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Matthew Arnold on: Times Magazine Slices, Dices Coppola

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Times Magazine Slices, Dices Coppola

Now and then? Then and now? Now and now? (Photos: Left, NYT Magazine; right, WireImage)

By S.T. VanAirsdale

It's no big secret to anyone who reads her (or especially to anyone who reads those who read her), but Deborah Solomon's weekly Q&A's in the front of The New York Times Magazine aren't exactly faithful transcripts of the conversations she has with her subjects. As the (relatively new) disclaimer at the end emphasizes, "Interview conducted, condensed and edited by Deborah Solomon." The interviewer historically comes out looking better than anyone on the receiving end; the reality that the questions are often longer than their replies is a part of the feature's appeal you generally accept as a condition of reading it.

That said, this week's "Questions for Francis Ford Coppola" made me more than a little uneasy, particularly this exchange about author Mircea Eliade, from whose book Coppola adapted his new film Youth Without Youth:

DS: His reputation has been tainted by his politics. He was one of several well-known Romanian intellectuals who reportedly had fascist leanings and supported the Iron Guard in the ’30s. Does that make you uncomfortable?

FFC: It’s sort of like saying my grandfather was an Italian fascist. In those days, in 1937, or even earlier, all the Italians were fascists. It might have been like the Communist thing in this country. If you were young in the ’30s, and very humanistic, you might have flirted with Communism, and then it came to haunt you.

DS: No, Communism was rooted in a utopian vision, the Iron Guard was rooted in hatred.

FFC: Well, there were people who felt that the Communist effort in the ’20s and ’30s among our writers was orchestrated by Stalin, but the people who got into it I’m sure got into it for idealistic reasons.

DS: It’s hard for me to talk about this with you, because my father was born in Romania and fled as a child in 1938.

FFC: That’s like going to Miami and talking about Cuba. Oh, boy, is that tricky.

The consummate knuckleballer Solomon uncorks a high-and-tight fastball or two as well ("You must regret some things. Are there any movies you regret making, like Jack?"), but the photo desk raises a few unusual questions of its own with the selection accompanying the interview, pictured above at left. The image at right was taken earlier this month at the Youth premiere in Los Angeles. Is everything there edited so dramatically, or are the archives just that deep?

Posted at December 18, 2007 2:39 PM

Comments (2)

Hey Stu -- sounds like you're abandoning your attempts to break into the Times. I'd say you're making a realistic choice there.

Thank you, Mr. Arnold! If five published NYT pieces in 15 months constitutes failed "attempts to break into the Times," then I guess I'm not going to be able to live up to your standard. I'd hate to be banished for just doing my job, but I suppose it's out of my hands. Alas.

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