Filmmaker Coppola warns of “loss of the republic” in the USA

US star director Francis Ford Coppola has warned of a deterioration of democracy in the USA. “America is founded on the ideas of the Roman Republic, but politics have reached a point where we could lose the Republic,” said Coppola on Friday in Cannes. The previous evening, the old master had presented his film “Megalopolis,” in which he draws a parallel between the USA and the Roman Empire shortly before its collapse.

“Men like (former President) Donald Trump are not in power right now, but there is a global trend towards far-right and fascist tendencies,” said Coppola. It is the role of artists and films to shed light on these developments.

Coppola had been pursuing the idea of ​​his film for decades. He said he had not expected it to become so unexpectedly relevant. “There are parallels between the USA and ancient Rome.”

The film “Megalopolis” triggered conflicting reactions in Cannes. Some critics see it as a masterpiece, others as a flop. Nevertheless, the 85-year-old director was given minutes of applause.

Der Spiegel described the film as “a crazy and euphoric plea for freedom”. “Megalopolis is a real mess – unruly, exaggerated and full of arrogance”, wrote the magazine Deadline. The Guardian called the film “mega-bloated and mega-boring”.

In “Megalopolis,” residents of a decadent New York indulge in wild parties, enjoy chariot races and wrestling matches in Madison Square Garden, and are surrounded by crumbling ancient statues. An architect played by Adam Driver with magical powers and big plans and a conservative mayor compete to plan the future city.

The almost two-and-a-half-hour-long film is a mixture of science fiction and experimental film with numerous historical references such as Shakespeare quotes and archive images of Adolf Hitler. In the second half of the film, Coppola has an actor in the theater react to what is happening on the screen.

The US filmmaker had already worked on the script in 1983. Several of the actors who were supposed to take part in the film died before the film was completed. In 2001, the first filming began in New York, which Coppola initially stopped after the attacks of September 11.

To finance the $120 million project, Coppola sold off a large part of his Californian vineyard. “I don't care about money. Friends are more important,” he said in Cannes. His children have good jobs and are not dependent on the inheritance.

As the veteran star walked down the red carpet in Cannes wearing a straw hat and walking stick, at the side of his granddaughter, he was cheered by the audience. Coppola dedicated the film to his wife Eleonore, who died a few weeks ago and to whom he was married for 60 years. 45 years ago, Coppola won his first Golden Palm in Cannes with the Vietnam film “Apocalypse Now”.

In the 1970s, Coppola was one of the young rebels of “New Hollywood” who brought socially critical themes to the cinema and no longer wanted to know anything about films with happy endings. The mafia trilogy “The Godfather” is one of his best known works.

Coppola did not rule out reworking “Megalopolis” later, as he has done with other films in the past. “I promise I'll still be here in 20 years,” he said. “I've also already started writing the script for my next film,” he added.