Book Review – Conversations with Scorsese and Coppola

This book series portrays the emotional rawness, struggle and surprising insecurities of two great film directors. The collection of personal interviews with Martin Scorsese (Taxi Driver, Goodfellas, Casino, Wolf on Wallstreet) and Francis Ford Coppola (Godfather, Apocalypse Now, Rumble Fish) span over 20 years or more and reveal extremely personal information, giving the reader insight into the directors choice of theme, location, cinematography and storytelling techniques throughout their careers.Each book includes also excellent introductions, chronology and filmography. There is a good combination of Q&A chapters, essay-esque sections and summaries which make the book accessible to a variety of readers. Major cinephiles will be happy to read the deep passages on
Martin Scorese’s intense interest in Catholicism, the supernatural plane and discipline in an interview from 1988. Or the 1979 interview with Francis Ford Coppola where he discusses the monetary side of filmmaking, dismissing worries about money after personally spending 16 millions dollars on Apocalypse Now, as long as he can provide for kids.

The interviews are a variety of in-depth discussions on the directors’ films, success or failure (personally, I think the discussions about the failed films are way more interesting to read) personal history, current personal life, industry politics and professional relationships that have influenced these two directors, that in turn influenced the entire film community. The downside to these interviews is that if you aren’t a lover of “filmspeak” you might roll your eyes a few times.

Overall the series is so in-depth and personal it is more interesting than overbearing. The series really shows that behind every film, there is a human being in control, shaping the outcome through their own personal motivations and experiences.

Below are some of my favourite words from each director:

Coppola – “Oh, I am the original sell-out.”

Scorsese – “No, but I’ve always taken that word – the idea of love – very seriously.”

Coppola – “But during Gardens of Stone, I can’t say I was really myself. In fact, during the production experience I was extremely… I was in a dream. I just wanted to get through it.”

Scorsese – “Formal storytelling with a camera is very difficult for me. I’m constantly learning it from the beginning. I guess you never stop thinking about whether you really can tell a story with a camera. I’m nervous every morning before I start.”

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