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What It Takes to Make a Great Movie

by Richard Brody.

This snippet of Merv Griffin’s interview with Francis Ford Coppola, from 1979, a few months after the release of “Apocalypse Now,” touches on some pretty crucial issues regarding moviemaking, then and now. The first thing that Griffin asked him—quite logically—concerned the grand scale of Coppola’s filmmaking (“You’ve always done things in a very big way”).

Coppola agrees, explaining that movies have to have “quality and integrity because they have such a tremendous influence on the world and on people.” The argument is a fascinating one—he felt that his power to make movies that were widely seen placed a moral obligation on him to affect people in ways he considered worthwhile, and part of that influence involved craft or finish—what might be called high production values, which take big budgets to realize.

At the same time, “integrity” implied his own integrity, the sense that he was telling the story as he imagined it, that the movie that came out resembled his vision of it going in—which entails a scale of onscreen action proportionate to the scale of the story being told.

Read the rest of this article from New Yorker.

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