Megalopolis, opus magnum by Francis Ford Coppola

a la une, Arts

“A Roman epic in an imaginary modern America in full decadence”

Francis Ford Coppola reminds us how America was created in the image of ancient Rome. As this concept evolved, it now finds itself on the brink of decadence, much like the Roman Empire. “There comes a time when its people don’t believe in it anymore. This is when an empire starts to collapse,” narrates Laurence Fishburne, embodying a Socratic figure. New Rome, a dystopian capital based on New York City, illustrates how *the sleep of reason produces monsters, urging us from the beginning :  “don’t let the now destroy the forever.”

Adam Driver, Giancarlo Esposito, Nathalie Emmanuel, Shia LaBeouf, and Jon Voight come together in a Shakespearean plot, weaving a narrative rich with names and patronyms that unveil the characters’ backstories. Love and jealousy, ambition, hypocrisy, and idealism clash in a battle for the future of humanity, creating a tapestry of epic proportions.

Edge magazine web, Megalopolis by Francis Ford Coppola

“Time, Stop !”


The film is laden with symbols, many of which are directly explained to the viewer. Initially, this bothered me, but I realized it makes sense within the story’s structure, as Coppola addresses a decadent, superficial society that has forgotten its own cultural roots on its road to pleasure and excess.

“We will eventually die of civilization…”

This is a movie about time. The very first scene plunges us into the concept of time control as we see Adam Driver’s character, a visionary architect, on the brink of the Chrysler Building. Throughout the film, he places a symmetry between the ancient and the modern – the idealist and the retrograde – in a sort of retro-futurism that allows us to become philosophers with grand expectations. “If our mind can invent gods…we can do anything.” What perspires from this movie is its extraordinary generosity, as Coppola creates an inspirational film that prompts us to ask many questions. He invites us to change our perspective on things. The genius of his signature lies in not taking a superior intellectual position but rather guiding the viewer toward an ideal. Often, I felt that today’s society lacks ideals and that it is hard to identify people capable of offering us this salutary platform. Coppola reminds us that Art bears this role in society, and artists have the capacity to stop time. Wasn’t Goethe saying, **architecture is frozen music?

Francis Ford Coppola red carpet canes 2024

Thus, Megalopolis approaches concepts of the future, physics, sociology, architecture, and even medicine, with Coppola spending 40 years in endless rewritings. Punctuated by a powerful rhythm in both scenes and music, this lifelong opus encompasses two major ideas: time and hope, bringing to the center love, family, nature, rebirth, and the importance of finding a new path. VTOPIAE – Utopias are not made of ready-made solutions, or they turn into dystopias. The universe is change, said Marcus Aurelius.

“Francis and I have been working together since 1976 (Apocalypse Now), when I was 14 years old… TIME… One of the things I always loved about Francis is that he always talked about stopping time. Even before he was talking about this movie, he would say: I can stop time, I’ll show you… it’s so wonderful to see it on the screen, the way it is depicted in this great film. I am so proud of you (Francis). I am so proud to be collaborating with you… this film is magic!”

Laurence Fishburne

Francis Ford Coppola remains true to his vision, despite current cinematic tendencies that prioritize financial success over artistic merit. Over the years, he has proven himself right, yet to produce this feature film, he had to invest $120 million of his own money.

“I never cared about the money…” he tells us with youthful assurance. “The money does not matter; what is important is our friends.”

The 10-minute standing ovation at the Cannes premiere was “a crowning joy,” says Coppola. “Having an idea and building it at different times, abandoning it, and then not abandoning it…” there he is, again, in the Grand Théâtre Lumière, 45 years after winning his second Palme d’Or in 1979 with Apocalypse Now – a work in progress, surrounded by his cast, his collaborators as he is underlining it. 

red carpet for megalopolis, Francis Ford Coppola , cannes 2024

“We did it together”

“This movie was truly a collaboration. When you make a film like this, you do not know how to (…). Adam delivered a beautiful performance, but he was also very helpful in the editing of the film with brilliant suggestions. Everyone here (cast/crew) contributed more than just their part; they were co-collaborators.”

Francis Ford Coppola

At the very end of the Cannes Film Festival, we had the chance to see again Francis one early morning before a screening:

“I’m going to tell you the message that the film gives: it’s a pledge, I pledge allegiance to our human family and all the species we protect, one earth, indivisible, with long life, education, and justice for all. That’s what the movie says.”

“I will not have time have dominion over my thoughts

I will not have time have dominion over my thoughts,

I will not have time have dominion over my thoughts,

I will not have time have dominion over my thoughts,

by Alexandra I. Mas

photos © Marco Tassini 

*Francisco de Goya : “El sueño de la razón produce monstruos.”

** Johann Wolfgang von Goethe :  “I call architecture frozen music.”  – “Ich nenne die Architektur gefrorene Musik.”