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Youth Without Youth

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola

by Review


Time. Consciousness. Identity. The dreamlike quality of life. Jungian psychology. Purpose and meaning. Love. These are some of the themes explored by Francis Ford Coppola in his remarkable new film, Youth Without Youth, based on a novella by Mircea Eliade The stunningly beautiful and profoundly engaging film, his first in ten years, reflects his current personal passion; "... now I think I’m most captivated by consciousness," he says in the film’s press notes. "The reality in which we live is beyond our immediate perceptions."

Youth Without Youth displays the multi-dimensionality of life, provoking us into an appreciation of its ultimate mysteriousness. Coppola does this with the unique beauty, style, and storytelling mastery that has made him one of the most acclaimed American auteur filmmakers of the past forty years. The film stars Tim Roth as Dominic Matei, an aging Romanian professor of linguistics who finds his youth miraculously restored after surviving a cataclysmic event.

The story’s timeframe is 1938 to 1969, and involves Nazi intrigue, an exploration of reincarnation in India, and a lifetime-transcending love story with pervasive impact on Matei’s life. From the opening sequence, to the repetitive metaphoric nature of much of the imagery, to the film’s conclusion, we are carried on a dreamlike journey through Matei’s life experience, his own inner commentary underscoring the primacy of consciousness in validating our reality. Eliade, who was a friend of C. G. Jung and worked with him in the 1950s, was one of the 20th century’s most acclaimed historians of religion. Osvaldo Golijov’s piquant score lends a delicious Argentine-tinged counterpoint to the essentially Eastern European-based story. Youth Without Youth is a Coppola tour de force, well worth the ten-year wait. The first time you see it, just take it in in all its richness, beauty, and provocation. When you leave the theater, let it roll through you, see what emerges in your experience. Then go back and see it again. It’s one of those films. As Coppola himself says about the film, "That’s the kind of movie I like to make: one that gives more as people give more of themselves to it."


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