francis ford coppola

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Lucas & Coppola: the inspiration for Obi-Wan and Anakin’s relationship.

So I was going through this old article of The New Yorker and came across this quote:

“Just as a benevolent father figure (Obi-Wan) helps Luke in his struggle against his dark father, the older Coppola took young George under his wing at film school, and helped him get his first feature film made.”
– John Seabrook, The New Yorker, 1997

Now, it’s known that Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas were close friends, but after looking further into it, there’s some interesting parallels to be made:

Coppola started out as a mentor figure, taking Lucas on as a protégé.

He helped George get THX-1138 and American Graffiti off the ground. Lucas filmed second unit shots for The Godfather and assisted in the editing, developed the script for Apocalypse Now with John Milius.

Overtime, their relationship had blossomed into a more brotherly one, with them becoming “equals”.

“[Our relationship is] sort of "mentor-mentee”. I mean, he’s taught me everything. He’s five years older than I am but, you know, when you’re 20 and 25 years old, that’s a big gap.
And so
, he’s always been my mentor and helped me get through everything. You know, we’ve know each other for, you know, what? Over 35 years now. And so, the relationship is more brotherly than it probably is mentor-mentee at this point. It’s more older brother-younger brother kind of thing. […] We pretty much are equal in terms of what we know about what we’re doing.“

Sound familiar?

Wait ‘til you hear about the dynamics of their friendship:

"Francis and I, we were very good friends right from the moment we met. Uh, we’re very different.”

“Francis is very flamboyant and very Italian and very, sort of, “go out there and do things!”

“I’m very, sort of, “let’s think about this first, let’s not just jump into it.” Um, and so he used to call me the “85-year-old man.””

“But together, we were great. Because, y’know, I would kinda be the weight around his neck that slowed him down a little bit to keep him from getting his head chopped off.

“And, uh, on— aesthetically and everything, we sort of had very compatible sensibilities in terms of that. I was strong in one area, he was strong in another, and so we could really bounce ideas off of each other.
Bu
t we were very much the opposite, in the way we operated and the way we did things… and that, I think, allowed us to have a very active relationship.”

  • A mentor-mentee relationship that turned into a brotherly one.
  • Two men with opposite personalities – one more outgoing, the other more cautious – that complemented each other’s beautifully.

Yin and Yang.

Just like Obi-Wan with Anakin (or Obi-Wan with Qui-Gon, if we wanna talk about the mentee needing to slow the mentor down a bit so he doesn’t get into trouble).

So I dunno if there’s more to it, but when I read all this… I read one more reason (in addition to the others) for why the “Anakin and Obi-Wan weren’t compatible enough, Qui-Gon should’ve been the Master because they had more in common” interpretation doesn’t track.

Like, if that’s your opinion/theory, cool.

But there is no way you’ll convince me that the author – who had almost that exact bond with Coppola – would then go and intentionally write Obi-Wan and Anakin’s bond as lacking and “a failing for Anakin”.

“Despicable”

There are other things going on in the world right now, far more important things. To be talking about some old men having an opinion on some popular films seems like an exercise in futility, and yet…

Francis Ford Coppola’s comments on Marvel movies, and Martin Scorsese’s ones before that, they irritate me no end. Coppola’s especially, because here’s what he apparently said:

When Martin Scorsese says that the Marvel pictures are not cinema, he’s right because we expect to learn something from cinema, we expect to gain something, some enlightenment, some knowledge, some inspiration. I don’t know that anyone gets anything out of seeing the same movie over and over again. Martin was kind when he said it’s not cinema. He didn’t say it’s despicable, which I just say it is.

This comes off as very hypocritical considering his positive comments on the MCU’s big hit Black Panther. Ryan Coolger specifically asked for his opinion and showed him an early cut of the movie. Now it seems he’s changed his mind. What a way to treat someone who looks up to you, don’t cha think?

But I digress…

I love the MCU and superhero movies in general. There’s a few of them I feel like I could say “This movie was made for me.” But, you know, they’re not made for me. The people behind them I feel are fundamentally making them for children, giving children good role models and good lessons. I mean, say what you want about Marvel movies as cinema, but they do generally contain the sort of thing you’d want your children to learn, you know? “Bad people should be stood up to” “Respect your friends even when they’re having problems” “Seek help whenever you need it”… yeah?

Like, take the ending of Black Panther. That’s an amazing scene and frankly I think a lot of real-life world leaders ought to take it on board.

And I think everyone can take something away from “I don’t like bullies, I don’t care where they’re from.”

Morally I don’t think the Marvel movies are despicable, not remotely. Disney as a company… I suppose you could debate til the cows come home about what their morals actually are besides money, but also I think it’s fair to assume that the individual directors of the various MCU movies probably came into the enterprise without any ill intentions. (Or, y’know, hopefully at least.)

Speaking as a former child, I love that more kids are getting the sort of stories I longed for as a 12-year-old… stories with women and girls in leading roles especially. Look at this fabulous list of Marvel heroines, and that’s only a handful of them.

And speaking as an adult, I look very forward to seeing the sort of things a generation raised on MCU movies will create. I suspect only some of them will be to my taste but I know what I’m not gonna label the ones I don’t like.