Sofia Coppola and the Art of Emotion

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Sofia Coppola – Image from theredlist.com

As a double major in journalism and film, the written word and moving pictures have sculpted who I am today and where I see myself in the future. I grew up as an avid reader and movie-goer. The values of each art form collectively resonate with me; I feel a deeper connection with the art I am exposed to. One such artist I increasingly appreciate is Sofia Coppola. Her films communicate an abundance of emotions that are nearly impossible to imagine understanding through any other medium and from any other filmmaker. Her distinct style summons feelings that have long been buried inside me or I never knew existed until viewing her work. Her films go beyond the restrictions of traditional cinema, evoking a nearly experimental quality that is still relatable and moving.

Coppola’s representations of youthful transition and growth capture an authenticity that no other filmmaker can match. Her film The Virgin Suicides perfectly distills the hidden pain of everyday teenagers growing alongside the oppressiveness of adult restrictions and expectations. Her films Somewhere and The Bling Ring captivatingly explore the loneliness and recklessness of growing up in the shallow and toxic culture of Hollywood. Coppola transcends this theme in a completely unconventional format with her film Marie Antoinette. This period piece does not aim for historic accuracy, but instead achieves emotional relevance by interpreting the young Austrian queen of France who struggled to live her teenage years under the harsh spotlight of her constituents.

A similarly threaded theme that is consistent among her work is the idea of loneliness. Almost all of her central characters struggle with isolation in an environment where they are often misunderstood. In her film Lost in Translation, two dissimilar outcasts form an unlikely bond while abroad in Tokyo. The setting of the film is essential in emphasizing that, despite their location, the two leads are constantly feeling lost and misinterpreted in a world of confusion. In the short film A Very Murray Christmas, Bill Murray wallows in loneliness and self-despair after a blizzard disrupts his televised Christmas special.

Coppola’s strong aptitude for conveying emotion is achieved through her powerful grasp of art cinema. Sofia Coppola is one of the few successful female directors being recognized in Hollywood today. She serves as an inspiration and a success story in a changing world where female directors are finally beginning to penetrate the strong sexist barriers of the film industry. Watching her films is practically like reading her diary; they feel so authentic that it must come from her own experiences. She grew up in Hollywood under her father and legendary filmmaker Francis Ford Coppola, growing in an irregular environment compared to the typical teenager. Her gift for storytelling is enriched by her incomparable perspective of life.

There are many films that do not have a proper sense of authorship by their creator. Movies have evolved to become less personal and more marginal with the only end goal in sight being profit. If I were lucky enough to create films in the future, I would attempt to invoke the genuineness and intimacy that Sofia Coppola so successfully encapsulates. Filmmakers must emotionally invest in their films in order for the end result to truly resonate with their audience. Coppola’s films are raw and beautiful; a craft that was developed using sincerity and most importantly, emotion.

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