Cineastes the world over have been rejoicing at the news that Francis Ford Coppola is back making movies – and back making personal movies – with Youth Without Youth, based on a novel by Mircea Eliade. Expectations have been tempered, though, as Coppola has begun showing the film, first to friends and colleagues and now to distributors. The movie stars Tim Roth as a 70 year old man who is hit by lightning and becomes younger and more brilliant. Given a second lease on life he decides he wants to… explore the origins of language and consciousness. That sound you just heard was half the distributors backing away. By the end of the film Roth and his love interest have tapped into the basics of language and speak in tongues. And that sound was their car engines starting as they race home.
Sure, the film sounds odd. And difficult. And sure, someone described it as ‘an arty Raiders of the Lost Ark,’ which makes me think that Tim Roth doesn’t like snakes and a monkey dies. And sure, it’s been called ‘intellectually challenging and emotionally distant’ (this is by someone who liked it). But while the 5 million dollar picture may not be for everybody, United Artists is in talks to pick it up.
United Artists, you may recall, is now run by the Jesus Christ of Scientology, Tom Cruise, and Cruise might not be where he is today if it wasn’t for Coppola, who cast him in The Outsiders in 1983 back when he was a nobody. That film set Cruise right into the teen hearththrob firmament, and it was not long after that he became one of the biggest stars in the world. Could Cruise be repaying that early favor by helping out that old fat Italian I love so much? I hope so.