cover image The Path to Paradise: A Francis Ford Coppola Story

The Path to Paradise: A Francis Ford Coppola Story

Sam Wasson. Harper, $32.99 (384p) ISBN 978-0-06-303784-7

Film historian Wasson (The Big Goodbye) explores director Francis Ford Coppola’s artistic process in this enthralling chronicle of his production company, Zoetrope. Founded by Coppola in the late 1960s, Zoetrope was envisioned as a “creative playground” for filmmakers tired of compromising with big Hollywood studios, a principle the director stuck to even as it became financially untenable. Wasson focuses his account on the personal and professional risks Coppola took to make Apocalypse Now (1979) and One from the Heart (1982). The stresses of filming the former—during which Coppola and his wife, who captured the making of the movie for a documentary, endured typhoons and ballooning costs while shooting in the Philippines—nearly ended his marriage. After a key funder pulled out from One from the Heart, Coppola had to put up as collateral $8 million worth of his assets for loans to complete the movie; its box office failure spelled doom for Zoetrope. Wasson’s immersive prose vividly recreates the circumstances of each shoot (“Coppola returned home to... a house illuminated only by candles, tore off his wet shirt, and sat down at the living room table to imagine, on paper, page after terrible, incredible, terrible page, the next day’s scene”), offering a complex portrait of an artist whose unwillingness to compromise cost him dearly. Movie buffs won’t want to miss this. (Nov.)