“Happiness is happiness.”
Francis Ford Coppola - Quotes and Commentary
"There's something in my heart that isn't yet fulfilled. Maybe it's a sickness. But I'm definitely not satisfied. It's nothing to do with money - I'm richer than I ever thought I would be. It's not fame - I'm more famous than I've ever been. It's something else. Something personal. I would like to leave ten films that I have written, original work. That would satisfy this itch.
I wanted to make films like Youth Without Youth (2007) and the one I'm doing next in my 20s. Instead, I made The Godfather (1972). In a way, Youth Without Youth is a natural continuation of what I was doing with The Rain People (1969) and The Conversation (1974). I made The Godfather and it just totally changed my life. Suddenly I was an important director. I wasn't this young, experimental filmmaker that I'd hoped to be.”
“I had been so conditioned to think the film was bad - too dark, too long, too boring - that I didn't think it would have any success. In fact, the reason I took the job to write The Great Gatsby (1974) was because I had no money and three kids and was sure I'd need the money. I heard about the success of The Godfather from my wife, who called me while I was writing Gatsby. I wasn't even there. Masterpiece, ha! I was not even confident it would be a mild success.”
“Initially, the idea of a sequel seemed horrible to me. It sounded like a tacky spin-off, and I used to joke that the only way I'd do it was if they'd let me film 'Abbott and Costello Meet the Godfather'- that would have been fun. Then I entertained some Russian film executives who were visiting San Francisco and they asked me if I was going to make 'The Godfather Part II'. That was the first time I heard the phrase used; I guess you could say I stole the title from the Russians. In short, it seemed like such a terrible idea that I was intrigued by the thought of pulling it off. Simple as that.”
He did pull it off and went on to do Godfather III. Why wasn’t there a Godfather IV? Coppola had begun work on a script that would delve into the early lives of Sonny, Michael, and Fredo. But when author Mario Puzo died in 1999, Francis Ford Coppola lost interest without his longtime friend and ally to spur him on.
“I didn't particularly want to make Godfather II! I always felt that The Godfather was a perfectly good drama and ended all the aspects of the story: it resolved the character and was really meant to be one movie. ... I only did Godfather II because I thought it would be interesting to make a film about a man and his father at the same age and tell the two stories in parallel, which is what I did. And that was an achievement.”
Apparently it was an achievement. He won three Academy Awards for Godfather II, Best Picture, Best Director and Best Screenplay (Original/Adapted).
“The Godfather (1972) films are personal. And they are, even though our family was never gangsters, and we only heard about somebody who knew a gangster. But still, the real day-to-day reality of the Italian family that was put into the gangster film was based on my family and what I remember as a kid. You can't make films without them being personal to some extent.”
Yes, film making has always been personal, or, a family matter for Coppola. The senior Coppola, Carmine, a professional musician and composer, co-wrote music for The Godfather and The Godfather Part II (received an Oscar for "Best Music, Original Dramatic Score"). During the street fight scene and Don Corleone’s funeral, his two sons were cast as extras. His daughter, Sofia Coppola was in front of the camera in all three Godfather films. In Godfather III he directed his sister, Talia Shire, in the role of Connie Corleone, a performance which received an Oscar nomination. Interestingly, his relatives’ roles in relationship to Michael Corleone reflected their real relationship to Coppola.
“The Godfather changed my life, for better or worse. It definitely made me have an older man's film career when I was 29. So now I say, 'If I had my older career when I was young, as an older man, maybe I can have a young film-maker's career.'”
For The Godfather (1972) Francis Ford Coppola made $175,000.00. The Godfather: Part II (1974) earned him $1 million to write, direct and produce. For The Godfather: Part III (1990) he was paid $6,000,000.00 plus a percentage of the profits.
“I just feel that at a certain point you have to go back to the beginning again. The best thing for me at this point in my life is to become a student again and make movies with the eyes I had when I was enthusiastic about it in the first place.”
“As I grow older, I realize that I always wanted to be a writer… I view Tetro (2009) as the second film of my second career. From now on I'm always going to writing the scripts, and every film will be personal. I'm going to be the kind of filmmaker I wanted to be when I was beginning.”
Now that is the American dream! Do what you love, get rich doing it, then do it again without anyone telling you how to do it.