The Prince

At long last, the Godfather's son makes his first film, and it was not easy

His friend and mentor, Carson, would agree. "Roman had to go through all of this to get to the end of that journey of revealing himself, of being comfortable talking about himself, of showing more of his insides," Carson says. "It took him a long time to pick up the [family] spear, and I think that has to do with him wanting to make sure he was good enough to pick up the spear, and he did when it was an accidental combination of fate and life."

If CQ is a product of Coppola's experiences to this point, if it's a release of so many memories and expectations, then what follows? During his talk at the university, Coppola explained that it took so long for him to make his first movie because he never found something "genuine, from the heart." Later, he will insist that CQ, for all its allusions to fathers and sons and filmmaking, has but one function: It's a movie intended only "to make you smile," Coppola tells the auditorium, smiling.

"What turns me on is just having your imagination set free and to see things realized and spring out of your imagination," he says later, finishing his cigarette. "Just the pleasure of walking onto an empty soundstage and seeing the construction of a set and see it fill out, it's a total thrill. And I'm not at all cynical about that."

The mirror, reflections: Roman Coppola, like the main character in CQ, directs Dragonfly (Angela Lindvall) in her lair.
Jean-Paul Kieffer
The mirror, reflections: Roman Coppola, like the main character in CQ, directs Dragonfly (Angela Lindvall) in her lair.

Roman Coppola and L.M. Kit Carson, filmmakers and friends and co-conspirators, sit in front of an audience of 30 on the University of Dallas campus. Their appearance together, in this wood-paneled auditorium on this verdant site, completes a circle, or perhaps a dozen of them, and the moment makes Carson anxious. He feels the vibe. He vibrates. It was here in the late 1960s, on this liberal-arts college campus, where he hatched the idea for his celebrated 1968 mockumentary David Holzman's Diary, a black-and-white parody of cinema verité in which Carson, as Holzman, turns the camera on himself in order to "get it all."

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