Another novelty like 3D...doomed.
"Coppola’s Vision for Twixt: Director as DJ"
July 23rd, 2011
July 23rd, 2011
Legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola’s unlikely vision for the future of cinema would turn directors into DJs, touring with their movies and “performing” unique versions for audiences.
“Why do movies have to be canned?” Coppola asked the crowd Saturday during the Comic-Con International panel for his upcoming gothic horror movie, Twixt. “I mean, everything else is…. Cable news is entertainment. If it’s not canned, it’s certainly predigested. Politics is entertainment, and it’s predigested. Everything. All we have that’s vaguely alive are the concerts you go to, some theater or sports.”
Coppola turned members of the Hall H crowd into test subjects for his wild idea to turn movies into live entertainment. Accompanied onstage by musician Dan Deacon and actor Val Kilmer, Coppola used a touchpad to select scenes from Twixt on the fly as Deacon tweaked the soundtrack.
Coppola said Twixt was conceived as a way to inject a live feel into cinema.
“What I’d love to do is go on tour,” he said, “like a month before the film opened, and go to all the cities myself, with my collaborators, with live music and actually perform the film for each audience uniquely for them — a different version for each audience. That’s what opera was like.”
Twixt centers on a horror writer who stumbles onto strange goings-on, and maybe vampires, in a small town. During one segment screened Saturday, the writer, played by Val Kilmer, brainstorms alone in his hotel room. Coppola and his tech crew spliced together different mixes of the montage, during which Kilmer assumed various personas.
“Theoretically, I could push the Shuffle button,” Coppola said.
At another point, the director replaced Tom Waits’ voiceover with his own live narration. There were plenty of glitches and false starts during the presentation, but Coppola’s “dress rehearsal” drew enthusiastic applause from a Hall H crowd obviously intrigued by the concept.
“It has some kinks,” said Deacon, “but we’ll work it out.”
Twixt’s interactive cinema is just the latest creative impulse from a director who’s been a lifelong fan of innovation. The director of Apocalypse Now and The Godfather trilogy said he’s always had a soft spot in his heart for 3-D cinema, but doesn’t like wearing special glasses to watch a movie.
“I always loved 3-D,” said the 72-year-old director. “I mean, my attic in Point Lookout when I was 13 was littered with red and green gel, and motors, as I was trying to invent the spinning disc that would enable glasses not to be necessary,” he said.
Remembering films like Bwana Devil, House of Wax and Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder, he said the rise of computer animation and digital television might be enough to keep 3-D trend alive this time.
“Although for me — and this is just a personal opinion — I don’t like watching 3-D with glasses,” he said. “I enjoyed very much Avatar, but I confess that I took the glasses off during much of the movie. And whenever I saw the images start to show that it was going to be 3-D, I put them on and saw a wonderful sequence, and then I took them off again.”
For that reason, Coppola shot only key sequences of Twixt in 3-D. During the Comic-Con screening, viewers lifted paper masks shaped like Edgar Allen Poe’s head — with polarized film where the eyes would be — to their faces. On-screen cues instructed audience members to hold up the masks before certain scenes, including a segment that showed whirring gears in a creepy bell tower.
Throughout the panel, Coppola came off as a kind of cross between a film historian and a Ham radio afficionado tinkering in his basement. He waxed nostalgic about Napoléon, a 1927 French film shown in Polyvision, with key scenes projected on three screens, before looking to the future.
“Cinema has some real surprises up its sleeve,” and will continue to evolve just as theater did before it, Coppola said.
“Movies are so young,” he said. “I mean, barely a hundred years old. How dare anyone think that all [cinema's] got up its sleeve is some more 3-D…. Cinema has many more surprises that you and your children will invent, because it’s at the beginning of this expression of image and sound, in many ways. Music and theater are thousands of years old. Cinema’s a baby.”