Even with the hundreds of director’s interviews online nowadays, I’m always left feeling like I’m missing part of the story. Like, I’m getting the canned response that they have ready to go after doing their hundredth interview.
This is to be expected. High end, world famous directors like Coppola tend to spend as much time in front of the camera discussing their work as they do behind the camera, actually creating it. That’s gotta be frustrating.
That being the case, it makes me all the more excited when I see an unedited, and uncensored look into a director’s creative process. As Sophia Harvey writes in this NoFilmSchool article, Coppola wasn’t in the bestplace in his career when he started “The Godfather,” but afterwards, he changed cinema forever.
The time between when he got the phone call and when they started shooting is documented well in his development bible for the film that’s being released in this new special edition of the film.
What this development bible shows me is that there’s no such thing as genius. That word gets thrown around far too often these days. In fact, I’d say that it should almost never be used, because genius implies that there’s something within someone that’s unable to be duplicated (or closely duplicated).
Just like the years of trial and error that it took for Shakespeare to become Shakespeare, Coppola didn't just walk out of the womb as, “Coppola.” That’s not to say that anyone else would have made “The Godfather” the same way, but it is to say that “The Godfather” was made possible because of the insane amount of detailed work that Francis Ford Coppola put into the film.
“The Godfather” is the culmination of thousands of hours of work by Coppola and everyone else associated with the film. If you ever need a reminder, and peek into that creative process, this development bible is the perfect conduit.
Francis Ford Coppola's ‘Godfather Notebook' is the Development Bible of Our Dreams
Via No Film School:
“I took my huge notebook, bought a big brown satchel I could lug it around in, got my Olivetti Lettera 32 typewriter and blank paper, went to the Caffe Trieste in North Beach in San Francisco, and set myself up in the afternoons to work on this project.” Coppola describes, “I loved it; I was living a dream. I was in a café where there was lots of noise and Italian being spoken, and cute girls walking through, and that was my dream; it was La Bohème for me.”
Every thought Coppola had in that café, and throughout the entire adaptation process, is there on the page, in his own handwriting. And now, it's been published for the world to see.
We had the opportunity to read this intimate book, and it's even more glorious than it sounds. You'd be hard-pressed to find a more in-depth study of the development of a script. And knowing how it turned out makes it even more valuable. Here are the biggest takeaways from The Godfather Notebook.
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(cover photo credit: snap from No Film School)