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New Hollywood Movement and Coppola

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Good morning. So, yesterday we stopped where we were talking about Godfather’s claim to fame,and how it has been canonized over a period of 40 or last 40 to 45 years.And we stopped where we were talking about how Pauline Kael , one of the most eminent film critics,she called it the best gangster film ever made in this country which is a big shotbecause gangster is essentially an American product, the other being the western.So, there are two important influential genres, which are essentially American andwhich are; one is gangster and another western. And The Godfather is labeled the best gangsterfilm ever made by none other than Pauline Kael then it must have made quite an impact at that point.Now, from here we will talk about the advent of New Hollywoodand how Coppola was at the center of the, so called New Hollywood movement.So, we had the French new wave, we had the Italian neorealism and then we had the Hollywoodor the New Hollywood period, the Hollywood new wave and Coppola was at the center of it.So, how do you create a movement? How do you assure in a movement?So, whenever we calls that a particular period is new, if it is New Hollywood then there has to be oldHollywood as well, and old Hollywood was essentially; what we call, what we label as the classicHollywood, we will be talking about classic Hollywood as well.Today, we are not talking New Hollywood in much detail but understanding The Godfather as the canonical text.And we were doing it as continuation of understanding, what is a canon;we have already done Citizen Kane, so I am just recapping whatever we have been doing earlier.So, today, this class is not about New Hollywood per say, but just to giveyou an introduction to what is canon and then a brief overview of the New Hollywood period,and how Coppola became the center of the so called period of New Hollywood, which wasbasically assured in by Warren Beatty and Arthur Penn in Bonnie and Clyde.Warren Beatty acted and produced a movie called Bonnie and Clyde,majorly scripted by someone called Robert Towne.Is the name familiar to you; an excellentscreenplay writer.I want you to do a good search on Robert Towne, because today I am going to refer to RobertTowne with reference to The Godfather as well. So, Robert Towne was essentially, a screen writer,also a director but his fame is by being a screen writer and he started his career with Bonnie and Clyde.So, Bonnie and Clyde started the so called period of New Hollywood.Now, Coppola, who already had three art films, not so successful before The Godfatherand if you read up some of his autobiographies, all works on Coppola;you will find, how much he had to struggle against the studio bosses.And who was the studio boss?Student: ParamountParamount studio and headed by at that point?Student: Robert TowneRobert Evans, not Robert Towne; Robert Towne was a screenwriter,Robert Evans, the studio boss. So, and road blocks were put before Coppola at every step of the way.He was prevented from casting Al Pacino that was the major setback,and there were times when he was told he will be fired any momentand there are people who are willing to take over, because it was felt that he is experimentingtoo much especially with the cinematography and bringing in all these New York method actors.Remember, no one wanted Marlon Brando; today it may appear huge, today it may appear to you,that Godfather is inconceivable without Brando and Pacino combination, there was apoint when the Paramount pictures especially Robert Evans just did not want these two men on board.So, everyday it would be Coppola is going to get fired or Pacino is going to get fired.Marlon Brando came on board with much difficulty and that is another story altogether.Another successful movie, now the first Godfatherwas released in 1972, we are still not; we are still discussing 1972 Godfather not 1974.Now, when the 1972 Godfather was released, it was also the year of the famous movie, The French Connection.It got five awards, including best picture, best director andalso Gene Hackman, so starring Roy Scheider and others. So, that is The French Connection.Now, what kind of a movie is the French Connection, directed by William Friedkin?You know, he later on went on to direct the Exorcist as well but the French connection was Friedkin’smajor success, which came in 1972; a couple of months prior to the release of the Godfather.And what kind of a movie is the French Connection?Student: It is a heist movie. Gene Hackman plays a cope.Yes.Student: And there is a car chase sequence where he is chasing the train.Please watch the French Connection.He has given you some of the defining features of the film.William Friedkin was anothermember of this New Hollywood community who was extremely influenced by the French new wave directors,especially the Godard, the Truffaut and also the Italian neorealist,like the Fellini and Bartolucci, those were their Gods. There is a classical story,when William Friedkin was shooting a mini-series on Alfred Hitchcock, it was called;The Alfred Hitchcock Hour or something like that and the big man came to the set and he, he justwatched William Friedkin shooting a series called, The Alfred Hitchcock Hour and he didnot utter a word about whatever Friedkin was doing. He just said one thing,Hitchcock to Friedkin, famously; you must wear a tie, you must wear a tie and Friedkin said, see what the hell,I do not even like this guy. It is not I am a, I am a fan, I come from theschool of the Godard and the Truffaut, who is he to tell me to wear a tie and all.So, it is that kind of, I am just narrating this anecdote to tell you, that who were thesepeople and who were they influenced by. They were not influenced, perhaps Orson Welles,yes, that was a major influence but not the classic Hollywood types, definitely; perhapsElia Kazan, who’s the East of Eden you recently watched.So, New Hollywood was essentially a rebellion against the classic Hollywood school of filmmaking.So, Coppola, throughout the filming insisted on casting New York actors, rather than established names;apart from Marlon Brando, no one is an established name in the movie, everyone is the new comer.There was a call for actors and all these big parts were enacted by theatrepeople from New York theater community, Al Pacino, Al Pacino, Robert Duvall.Student: I think Duvall was famous.Duvall was, yes, yes, but not a box-office magnet,even Marlon Brando at that point was considered a box office poison; it was saidand Coppola admits that the studio told, the executives told him, that if you take Marlon Brandowhoever is coming to watch the movie, even they will stay away. He was that much of a poison to people.So, Marlon Brando was not wanted, Pacino definitely not wanted.James Caan, yes, people, studio executives; because he was considered quite good looking,movie star, good look, so the the actor who plays Sunny, yes.So, casting of Pacino wasmajor contentious issue and Robert Evans particularly disliked him, they wanted Robert Redford in that role.And Coppola insisted on using non-trained, non-professional actors.For example, the bodyguard Luca Brasi; he was a professional wrestler and if you look at him, he is huge,he looks the part.He is the one who gets strangulated in the rest room by whom?Student: Virgil Sollozzo By who?Students: SollozzoBy Sollozzo, good, good, you have been watching the movie, by Sollozzo.And adherence to the ambience, now what ambience is that; when is the movie set?Students: In 40's.Good, 40's. A dead giveaway clue is that Michael is a war hero, he returns from a war; andwhich world war could it be, the second world war, it is the 40's. So, he wanted to adhereto the ambience and that is very important because; if you remember the Mafia,the original screenplay, I am not talking about the novel, the Godfather by Maria Puzo.The studio had commissioned Puzo to write a screenplay called the Mafia, remember,which no one wanted to direct.So, the studio compelled Puzo to rework the draft of the mafia based on the Godfatherand set the ambience in the 70's with hippies in it and rock and roll music because theysaid this is selling; you know Easy Rider was a major success, Bonnie and Clyde.So, why it make a movie of the 40's, which will be such a cumbersome project?And it will definitely expensive, because you have to recreate a period; seventies are here and now,so let us try to do that, let us try to take advantage of the hippies around usand let us fill it with drugs and all kinds of interesting things, so that people will come.So, but Coppola yearned for a particular period,the post war America when American power in business as well as in politics was at its peak,that is the period he wanted to capture and it meant period cars, having period cars, period costumes,sets, restaurants, clothes.Everything has to be true and faithful to the period; that is the 40's.So if you watched the movie, you will find it is so real, it is so authentic.The famous scene where Michael first comesacross the news of his father being gunned down;he is not killed but he just reads it on one of the newspaper stands,Kay stops and she directs his attention to that and there is a newspaper stand.And do you, would you believe it that suddenly Coppola was toldand what by his art direction team that in the 40's there would be no newspaper stands.What does he do?And then the next shot is that Michael reads the headline and runs across the street,and goes to a telephone booth and it so happened that; because that scenewas shoot on location, so actually on an actual street,and he was told during the 40's there was no phone booth here.So, what do you do? So, he said, let us just get it; you know,some imagination, some poetic lies has to be there, let us create a chaos, let us create a phone booth.So, it was that. Shot on location, yes, but they also did a lot of recreation of the period.So, that is how difficult it, it always is.Forties cars; I mean, if you watch the movie, it is not the 70's cars, all those black cars, little cars,they all belong to that period.Another important, and I think this is oneof the most defining feature and of New Hollywood period, as well as of the Godfather in particular;that they astute the theme of good versus evil. But then I am going to give you another example,which soon came after the Godfather and took a very regressive kind of cinemawhich took Hollywood again years back in time, but then we will talk about that soon in our later classes,so no good versus evil theme; which is again an import of the French new wave,You will also find that in the world of these Mafia, there are no civilian deaths.So, you do not get women being dishonoured orpeople just being shot dead, rampantly, it is all about a gang war.So, the only person whorepresents the law is the corrupt police officer and he is also shot dead early in the movie by Michael.So, the question, that the film raises very aptly is what is evil, the nature of evil?How many of you have read the novel?Oh, quite impressive, you have read the novel.Shweta, do you think that to the novel, the movie is quite faithful,Give me couple of reasons.Please focus on her (to Video recorder), she has read and he has read, so after thatand after that, the little girl is red. So, that is three people.Student: It is partly faithful and also have certain elements in the, are really focusedaccording to the movie. Like for instance, the wedding beginning, when Sunny is withthat woman and how all the rumor surrounding Sunny is very little and all that, is notreally touched upon in the movie as such. And apart from that, Luca Brasi is the moreprominent role in the books, it is mentioned in great detail how he butchers lot of people.Actually, there are plenty of plots which; when I first read, in fact I first watchedthe movie and then read the novel, and I felt what is this. Now, where is the movie here?And I am glad he did the movie, the way he did. So, the screenplay is written by Mario Puzoin collaboration with Coppola, and Coppola has gone on record stating that he was extremelyput off by the novel at certain places. And if you read the novel you will understand what places.He felt that what am I making? And you know there are subplots, which areso huge and which are so voluminous which have nothing to do with the main plot.We just go on and on and on and you wonder, what is happening here. So, its pulp to the core,but then Coppola raised it to the level of art.So, this is one instant where the movie is any day better than the novel.Forget that he has left out several things, but whateverand there are certain scenes which are not there in the novel, but they do figure in the movie;and I will tell you where and the reason, why I was trying to draw your attention to Robert Townewho wrote a couple of scenes and therefore you know, cinema is an art comes into picture.So, now, we are talking about how the moviewas photographed by Gordon Willis; this is an important name, cinematographer, Gordon Williswho like to shoot in closed spaces, dark shuttered rooms, just to give that feelof claustrophobic world of the mafia as contrasted with the Sunny brightly lit atmosphere of the wedding.And many, we were recalling the movie the other day, the best home movie Coppolaever made, that is the term he uses for the film, that is the best home movie I ever made.And there are instances, if you read up on the history of or the making of the Godfather,then in several of the sequences; for example in Baptism scene, in the wedding scene, Coppolauses his own family members as part of the crowd. It is like, you know; that is the uncle,that is an aunt, that is my mother kissing the baby and all those things.Influence of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro, a regular with Bernardo Bertolucci.So, the Gordon Willis was hugely influenced by Storaro but more than Gordon Willis, it was Coppola himself,because Coppola was a disciple of Bertolucci and therefore he wanted that kindof an impact, that kind of an Italian feel to the movie.Interestingly the hospital sceneswhere Michael is trying to save his father, the beautifully shot scenes are done by George Lucas;a great friend of Coppola, great admirer of Coppola.But then which film did he make?Forget American graffiti, yes? Students: Star warsStar wars, and after that equations were changed forever,then Coppola became a disciple that is another story.So, that hospital scenes and if you remember the hospital scene,one of the best scenes in the movie, they are shot by George Lucas. If you remember, howthe movie is generally, the look of the movie, earthy brown, yellow in places.And what Coppola wanted was an authentic church like influence.Music, music is composed by, one is Coppola credits his own father.Yesterday, I was talking about Coppola’s father being a musicianhimself, flutist; Carmine, Carmine Coppola. He was a professional, quite well regarded artistso he contributed a lot. But the real music or the major part of the credit goes to Nino Rota,who was a regular of Fellini. So, look at Coppola’s influences again,Bertolucci, Fellini, all the great Italian masters.Now, at this point I would like to draw your attention to another great movie which ismade by Bertolucci, called the Conformist; which came a few years, just two years before the Godfather.And many critics, especially people like David Thomson have read thematicparallels between Michael Corleone’s character and the leading character, the lead characterin Bertolucci’s the conformist. Bertolucci’s Conformist; which is all about how a regularordinary decent guy is caught between the forces of, two opposing forces of ordinary life;leading an ordinary life and a life of betrayal and fascism.So, he is forced to choose between the two. So, loyalty towards his friends or be outcaste or be a misfitin a society where loyalties are sold every day, and he decides to choose to confirm.And if you look into Michael Corleone’s character, he decides to let go off his essentialhumanity, decency at, at least by the end of the 2nd godfather when he orders his brother’s death.So, he is now the face of Satan himself; that is what he turns into, and if you thinkof how he began and look at the graph of his character, the way he begins and the way heends in the 2nd godfather, quite a transition.So, what is the conformist all about?A regular decent fellow who becomes, to become victim of every sin, every weakness he has, he hasalways dreaded in himself; that is the conformist that is the basic core idea of the conformist.One of these days we will be watching the movie but then if you look at, if you watch the movie,you will find there are the strong parallels between the guy in the Conformist and Michael Corleone.When he has to make a choice, he chooses to conform.So this is Michael before.And yesterday I was trying to draw your attention to the way he looks, the way he dresses, the look on his face.And then by the end of the 1st Godfather, when he orders the killingof his brother-in-law and confronts Talia Shire’s character.And by now, he is almost The Godfather.Another feature of the New Hollywood cinema; like their French predecessors, like theirItalian influences, shot on locations and this is one of the main locations where Godfather,the Godfather was shot, Radiocity.When does this occur in the movie?Well, it is a theatre, you know and this is the timewhen they are coming out Kay and Michael. They are coming out and they discover, thatthe Godfather has been shot, the shot on actual location.So, legacy; what Godfather did to us and how everyone’s life changed after the Godfather?Brando made a stunning comeback, that is the most important legacy, but then equally important is thatthe movie made his stars. He gave us; the movie gave the cine- enthusiast and stunning actor called Al Pacino.And if you look at his body of work, then you will understand what I am talking about.Even till his very recent any given, any given Sunday or insomnia, we know what Al Pacino is.So, the studios were extremely wrong about him and of course,Coppola is the one who proved the studio is wrong about him. James Caan; he also achieveda reasonable degree of success, not as much as Pacino, not as much as De Niro but anyway.Method acting came into its own. Everyone started talking about method. Method was always there.James Dean method acting, right, Monty Clift, Marlon Brando, but then with Robert Duvall,Al Pacino, James Caan and also Robert De Nero, Dustin Hoffmanthe Graduate, which was released along the, around the same period. So, method actingbecame the new mantra of all actors. It was no longer necessary to be movie star,good look, good looking or to have the conventional good looking face associated with movie stars;I mean, Al Pacino, De Niro, Dustin Hoffman, Jack Nicholson, definitely not the conventionallygood looking actors but actors, and they are still around.So, influence on people. Coppola is couple of years older to these people; De PalmaGeorge Lucas, Martin Scorsese, Spielberg.Michael Cimino? Who is Michael Cimino?Other names, I am very sure you are familiar with, who is Michael Cimino?One great movie, after that never acted but you can see, you can sense the Coppola, the Godfather influence.One great movie, we will talk about it, it is there.And of course, Michael Mann, Michael Mann does not need any introduction.You know, who is Michael Mann? You know who is Michael Mann? No?Michael Mann is the director of Heat, the Insider, Collateral, Last of the Mohicans.What else?Public enemies, it is a very lengthy, very impressive list.So, look up Michael Mann, one of the greatest contemporary artists.Now, in between what happened? What did Coppola do, that is the question?What did Coppola do between the 1st and 2nd Godfather?Azhar?Student: The Conversation.Good, the Conversation. So, in between the two godfathers, he was keeping himself gainfullyemployed and he made the Conversation with Gene Hackman.Gene Hackman, fresh from the success of the French Connection.And what is ‘The Conversation’ all about?Espionage,surveillance tapping other people’s conversation; and he is the guy, Gene Hackman is a specialistand expert in this area and he is employed by rich people to spy on each other.And he never questions, again the notion of conformity. He never questions, he is not eveninterested in knowing why he is being asked to do as long as he is getting paid for it.He taps people’s conversation, but then there is lot of moral ambiguity in the movie;the conflict between the individual with himself and the society, we were talking about therecurring motives in Coppola, so that is what you will find in the Conversation as well.It is a great movie, it did not do well at all, obviously, because it did not have theingredients associated with the Godfather, and we have already seen what those ingredients were.Before I go to the 2nd Godfather, let me talk on;since I broached the topic, Robert Towne. Now, what is Robert Towne’s contribution to the Godfather?There is a scene between Brando and Pacino, a little before the DonCorleone dies and what does he tell to his son? It is a very intimate, father man ormanual kind of a sequence.What is it all about?Student: It is a conversation about how he wanted Sunny to become Godfather and neverwanted him (Michael) to become Godfather or don.Good Yes, he tells him, we were talking about theuniversal wisdom and he says the guy who comes to set the meeting, fix the meeting,he is the traitor; remember that.and who is that guy? BarziniStudent: I think Tessio. Tessio; fine, so the guy who comes to setup the meeting, so that father has given a very useful piece of advice to his son before die,and that is the scene which was written by Robert Towne. It does not exist in the novel.And why did they do it, can you guess why this scene was inserted at all in the movie?It came at the fag end. Coppola says that the primary shooting of the movie wasall over and he had been kicked around by everyone, and there were also studio henchmen to beat him up.And the studio head had employed people to beat him up at any point and justyou know, to pick him and throw him; Coppola was a huge man, he looks like a big bear,you know one of those tough teddy bears. That is one reason, why he employed so many ofhis family members on the set, especially his sister. And he says that before they couldfire me, I used to fire all the people who are loyal to the studio.So, it was a big tug of war between the studio and the director. So this scene, that scene was written by;and my question was, why you think this scene was written at all when he was so eager to finish,and rap the movie and get it out of his way?Student: I think there is not much interaction between Michael and Vito Corleone in entire movie, so.Exactly, Good, excellent. In the entire moviethe father and the son, they never meet face-to-face by themselves, they are always surroundedby other people; there is always someone, but this is one scene which is, which actuallylooks like the father is having a conversation with his son, giving him some pieces of worldly advice,etcetera, etcetera, which you never find throughout the movie. He is always, Brando is Brando,otherwise we had the hospital scene, but you do not find the father and the son having a conversation.And this scene brought a very strong emotional touch to the film.Also the fact that by that time, the movie was over everyone realized that what greatperformance is delivered by both, Brando and Pacino, and the studio insisted that we musthave a scene, that these two men come face to face. And Coppola said, he did not know what to do.So, he approached his good friend Robert Towne and he said help me out.And if you want credit, I will give you a writing credit as well. And Robert Towne said no,I do not want credit, any credit for that. Robert Towne also went, went on to write thescript for another great movie called; you must do your homework on Robert Towne,that is the way it is spelt, T, O, W, N, E, so all his screenplays.Now, so the second Godfather gave Coppola the freedom to do things his way.It is an original material; so that is what Coppola had always wanted, not to use someone’smaterial but to use his own material, by now he had already established his own studiofacility ‘Zoetrope’. Remember? We were talking about, that was his dream.The main reason why he agreed to do the Godfather was that he could make enough money to establishhis own studio and that was the ‘Zoetrope’. So, audacious in terms of its narrative style,it moves back and forth in time, between time and spaces, periods.The first Godfather, the young godfather played by De Niro; Vito Corleone,and then you have Michael now trying to face his own internal demons.So, when the movie was originally shot it had twentycuts between past and present, but then it was felt; that it was befuddling and too confusing,so then Coppola decided to reduce the length, reduces the cuts to twelve only and not twenty.Again, great actors, two great actors coming back, are coming together for the first time; De Niro and Pacino.However, they never come face-to-face together, but they are in the movie.In counterpoint to Michael’s struggles, both inside, inner and outer, we also seedon Vito’s constant, consistent rise to power.The movie, you would be surprised to know, that the first Godfather was the modestly budgeted movie.People did not want to spend money on Coppola or his team or whoever he had brought on board.By the second movie he was big enough to invest his own money andto make certain demands, and he got what he wanted and its epic in scope.So, there are certain movies; in the 1st Godfather, which was supposed to be shot on locationin New York, but then they were forced to shot in LA to cut cost etcetera but here he did whatever he wanted to.And then you can see Hebrews coming and striking Apocalypse nowthen what he did to himself after Apocalypse now; because then it, you know the downfall began.Because he, there was a point when it was felt that Coppola can do no wrongand that is how great people fall.So, the second Godfather is epic, it is shot in New York, actual locations;LA, Las Vegas and Cuba, Havana, if you remember those scenes, and Sicily,especially the childhood scenes.And of course, money was spent on the movie,gave us the great De Niro, but then De Niro was already great, he had Mean Streets behind him and Taxi Driver,he was working on Taxi Driver simultaneously, so he was there, and again method acting at work.The second Godfather, as opposed to the classicGreek tragedy structure of the 1st Godfather; again more experimental in its narrative style,more inward looking, more elegiac and reflective.Al Pacino got nominated seven times for theacademy award before he won it for Scent of a Woman. De Niro won it for the second Godfather,very early in his career.Great scenes from the second Godfather,one is the investigation scene, lengthy, but again, very brave, very courageously shot scene,too many people, lots of people involved there. Then you, you know, it is a very, very chaoticensemble; but if you watch it, you will, you know, you get swept away by the magnitude of the scene.De Niro scenes in Little Italy, Fredo’s shooting at Lake Tahoe.And of course, Coppola himself never had a very easy relationship with his brother andthat is what, you know, Coppola is always interested in these sibling rivalries andall and Fredo’s killing, by his own brother could be a reference.As we were talking, as the Godard has already told us that; everybody owes everything to Orson Welles.So, influence of Citizen Kane, palpable.Journey of a protagonist.Here Michael Corleone;his spiritual, his material,his rise to power,his alienation and then final decline and fall of a megalomaniac.So, he suffers, he becomes a victim to his own pride,his own hubris, almost like a Greek hero.Coppola, holding his three Oscars.Now, that is the first and who was he competing against that year in 74? Against himself;The Conversation, for the Conversation also he was nominated. So, you can imagine therefore,it is not for no reason, that we call Coppola at the center of the universe.There was a time when he was the center of the universe of the so called, New Hollywood period.Now, it may appear very strange to you, that whatever happened to Coppola? What was his last movie?No one remembers? You remember, what is the Spielberg’s last movie?Student: LincolnLincoln, you do remember and Lincoln is still hot, it is honoured.Oscars are around the corner, are you betting on Lincoln?Are you betting on Dave Lewis?Student: YesAre you Yes! Yes, how many of you are betting on Dave Lewis? At least best for actor? Watch the movie,he is Lincoln, watch the movie. Have you watched the movie, Palery?You are not betting on him? You did? Azhar?Watch the trailer at least on You Tube, and you will find,he is not Dave Lewis, you feel that is Lincoln talking to you.So, whatever happened to Coppola;he won three Oscars in one year while he was competing against himself.Student: Till now which is his (Coppola’s) last movie?Tetro.Student: When did it release?2009 No one knows, no one cares, unfortunately.And that is what he says. You see, he is an honest man and he says, ‘in some ways theGodfather ruined me, it just made my whole career, go this way instead of the way I reallywanted to go, which was into doing original work as a writer, director’.He could never live down that success, that those expectations because see, from when you are at the topthe only way to go further is to go down. And he started at the top.He influenced that generation of filmmakers but then for him, it was like how to excel himself and thenhe went into the 2nd godfather, which was a huge commercial success, as well as, a critical.For some, for many people and if you ask me, it is m