Ed Driscoll

MAO AND THE GODFATHER

Instead of my usual urbane voice of reason, allow me to risk sounding like Floyd R. Turbo for a moment. I was recently sent a copy of The Conversations: Walter Murch and the Art of Editing Film, written by Michael Ondaatje, to review for Blogcritics. It’s a series of interviews with Murch on the artistic choices that he made when editing the classic films he’s worked on over the years, including Francis Ford Coppola’s best films–The Godfather movies, The Conversation, and Apocalypse Now. Those are all staggering movies (The Conversation is criminally underrated), and Murch is, without a doubt, one of the most talented editors to emerge in the “new Hollywood” of the 1970s. And it appears to be a well-written, very readable book, which, while I haven’t finished digesting it (I’ll post a proper review of it on Blogcritics–this isn’t it), I can easily recommend to any film buff.

But the photo above, which I scanned from the book, “knocked me for six”, as the English would say. Here’s Francis Ford Coppola, at the height of his powers, shortly after making his fortune from the first two Godfather movies. It’s taken, I believe, in Coppola’s Napa Valley mansion, in what I assume is either his dining room, or perhaps a conference room.

In any case, notice the Warhol Mao print, and its placement directly behind Coppola, who it’s safe to assume always sat at the head of the table. It was clearly hung there to establish some sort of “we’re both powerful men” relationship.

Perhaps (and I’m being really charitable here), Coppola was making a statement about how dictatorships are powerless before the power of mass media (Warhol of course, cranked these prints out like mad). But probably not. Imagine dining with someone who had a print of Hitler, Stalin, or Castro (heck, that last one is probably still hanging in more than a few unrepentant leftists’ homes). Wouldn’t you have some second thoughts about your host?

What is it with the left and their love of evil men who have the murders of tens of millions of people on their hands? Is it the desire to seek some sort of weird, Palpatine-like father figure? Is it a belief that all of the evidence against their heroes is slanderous? (I’d pull off an Orwellian, “seeking the love of Big Brother” reference here, but that would be awfully cliched.) Or that the genocide they commit–all those broken eggs—is justified?

Remember this photo next time Sean Penn goes to Baghdad. Or Spielberg to Havana.

UPDATE: Here’s the review of the Murch book. Surprisingly–and enjoyably–free of overt politics, with the obvious exception of the above photo.

ANOTHER UPDATE: More on this topic, here.