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One From The Heart

*gasp* I wasn’t sure until this very scene, when they’re using screens and lighting to shift between that guy in the sofa and a different scene behind the screen.

I remember seeing this movie when I was thirteen (with one of my older sisters). I have no idea what made us (or probably me) choose this movie — I remember knowing that it was a film people hated (or at least “critically slated”), but I don’t remember why I dragged us to watch this film. On the other hand, when I was visiting Oslo when I was twelve, I remember just going to a multiplex and staying there all day, watching like five movies in a day. I was starved for cinema — in my home town, the cinema had just like the biggest movies (and only a couple per week), which I wasn’t that interested in anyway.

So I (presumably) dragged my sister to watch this movie (did it have a higher-than-thirteen age limit?) and I remember just being riveted by the colours and these flourishes of artificiality…

But I forgot what actual movie it was we were watching, and I’ve been trying to triangulate, and finally I found it.

Ooh! I thought this was in real Las Vegas for a while, but it obviously can’t be. So Coppola built all this in his studio?

The neon cost alone must be more than the budged of most movies!

And all these people on the lot!!!

It’s sometimes not clear whether they’re supposed to be in a dreamscape or actually outdoors… It looks amazing anyway.

Most of the actors here are perfect, but I think this guy (Frederic Forrest?) isn’t quite right for the role. I know he’s supposed to be an average Joe, but he’s er lacking in charm, and he’s a hammy actor.

The mattes!

I remember from when I was thirteen that I walked out of the cinema, discussing this with my sister, and I thought that it was a really cool movie. I loved the artifice of it all (although I phrased that as “those screens were near”), but I wasn’t totally enthused about it. I thought… that it wasn’t the disaster the critics made it out to be? But that the storyline left something to be desired.

But now, 42 years later, my brain has obviously atrophied, and I like this movie even more. I’m flabbergasted at how great and how artificial it is, and I’m just wondering how it was made. And… like… did Coppola spend absolutely all his Godfather money on making this fever dream a reality?

Ah, right.

Well, I made my sister contribute at least $10 of that worldwide gross. (I forget how much cinema tickets were at the time.)

So it was a total, absolute box office bomb with a pretty big budget.

Oh, the music really is by Tom Waits? I thought it sounded like… somebody trying to do Tom Waits, but softer…


The film’s cinematography has come to be lauded in recent years. In the Los Angeles Times, Susan King praised One from the Heart as “so visually arresting, it’s shocking that it wasn’t well received back in 1982.”

[time passes]

This DVD has a bunch of extras and documentaries, and they’re interesting. Coppola really bet everything on this movie, and it was really panned by the critics. And his Zoetrope Studios went up for sale after the premiere, because he was out of money, and he spent the next decade paying off his debt from this film.

There’s an entire DVD of extras, and they’re longer than the actual movie. Coppola is amazingly forthright about what he was trying to do… it’s interesting stuff.

This has never been released on blu-ray. The DVD I have is in 1.33:1, which it was filmed in 1.37:1. So I guess they cut off the edges? But it’s not a lot of edge.

I think when I was thirteen, I would have given this… . I was riveted while watching it, but not entirely convinced by the hokey ending. I’m more sentimental now, so:

One From The Heart. Francis Ford Coppola. 1981.

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