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Francis Ford Coppola: ‘You Can’t Be an Artist and Be Safe’

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The filmmaker discusses the inspirations behind the characters in "Megalopolis" and "The Godfather," as well as recent allegations.  

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Francis Ford Coppola's first film was selected for competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1967. He was 28, and the film was "You're a Big Boy Now," a neo-screwball studio comedy about a young man attempting to break free from his parents.  

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Coppola created it while attending film school at the University of California, Los Angeles, and it became his master's thesis project.  

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A month after the festival, he began directing his first major studio film, "Finian's Rainbow."  

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It flopped. He then put some of his savings into a low-budget studio film called "The Rain People." It flopped. The following film he directed was "The Godfather."  

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Coppola, 85, returned to Cannes last month with the epic fantasy "Megalopolis," a big-screen dream he has nurtured for more than four decades.   

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It's his first film since "Twixt" (2011), a little-seen horror story about a genre novelist who declares his desire to make something personal. Coppola has repeated this plaintive refrain throughout his career.  

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Coppola is and has always been an unmistakably personal filmmaker, whose love for the art of film has frequently brought him into conflict with the industry and its media mouthpieces.  

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