Following careful thought on which director to study, I chose Francis Ford Coppola. Although he has directed more films than I have had the opportunity to experience, I have viewed enough to understand his progression and style of his work. Over almost forty years of work, Coppola has directed about twenty-five films, produced near forty-five, composed two, and acted in eight. He is known predominantly for Apocalypse Now (1979) and The Godfather I (1972), II (1974), and III (1990). However, he has worked in other genres, such as Horror/Romance, Musical, and even Comedy.
In the few of his numerous films that I have seen, Coppola appears to use much of the same aesthetic techniques. Most of his works mise-en-scene, with some exceptions, seems to be very basic. When he is filming, Francis Ford Coppola does not put too many unnecessary items into the scene. When using a Wide-angle lens, the frames are very open and spacious. This allows the viewer to focus on what is happening, rather than distract their attention. This technique can also prove useful. For example, if he wanted to make a character seem alone, abandoned, and insignificant, this type of shot would work well. Opposite a number of his films, in Apocalypse Now, it was important to some of the frames full. However, they still were not completed with excess objects, instead they were lavishly filled with the natural, lush greens of the Philippines. Francis Ford Coppola also uses dissolves in his works. In The Cotton Club (1984), this technique was used a couple of times, when both dancing and singing was being performed. His editing style proved continuous. It was neither choppy, nor disruptive to the viewer, which allowed for a more pleasant experience.
Francis Ford Coppola uses sound in a rather conventional way, but at times adds a touch of his own creative style. The character that the audience is meant to empathize with may have their own particular motif, displayed through music. In The Conversation (1973), whenever Harry Caul, played by Gene Hackman, was intensely thinking about something, the same piano music would play.
His direction of the actors was executed extremely well. He knew exactly what he wanted from them, and did not give up until it was as he had expected. Some of his setbacks in Apocalypse Now support this opinion. He wanted every part to be performed perfectly. It is because of this that he allowed a conflict with Marlon Brando to arise. Coppola rewrote the end of the script, to suit Brandos weight gain and personality. It is circumstances such as these, where Coppola demonstrates his flexibility that allows him to be such an extraordinarily successful director. This flexibility and knowledge is useful in other areas also. Francis Ford Coppola does not look onto other races ass if they are insignificant. Throughout The Cotton Club (1984), Coppola portrays the black race as educated people. They are talented, just as the white race, although there is segregation, they still try to make a living through their dancing and singing talents.
In the past thirty-eight years of his career, Francis Ford Coppola has achieved more than anyone could ever dream of. Coppola is, in my opinion, an auteur. He has written produced, composed, and acted in over forty-five films throughout four decades.
His style and choice of genres, along with knowledge, experience, and flexibility has allowed Coppola to become a well-known, idolized director. After experiencing only a fraction of the numerous films that Coppola has worked on, I find myself wanting to experience more.