It’s not surprising that an
with filmmaker Sofia Coppola could go just about anywhere. It can go back to assess the aesthetics she successfully captured from her films
The Virgin Suicides
. Or go further back: to 1971 when the Clint Eastwood drama
was released — a story that Coppola has translated for the screen with stars Nicole Kidman and Colin Farrell.
Or on to today: to the appeal of the state of Louisiana, to embracing a Southern Gothic style of filmmaking, and to the draw of shooting a film in a ‘real’ location where the Spanish moss growing wild outside is as much of a story as living local in a slow-paced charming Southern town.
For Coppola, filming
brought together a dream cast, including Kidman, Farrell, Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning. Set during the Civil War, the story is one of an injured Union soldier who arrives at an all-female Southern boarding school.
The roles pushed the actors to take on characters quite unlike their real selves: Elle as a vain temptress; Kirsten as repressed and buttoned-up. And Kidman and Farrell were cast for what they do best: regal Nicole with nonetheless funny and twisted humor; Farrell for his charming and beguiling Colin-ness.
While Coppola isn’t a fan of remakes (“Why remake something that somebody’s already made?”) she felt this story was different. “[This] one I felt I could do a totally different version of the same story,” she says. “When I saw the [Clint Eastwood] movie it was so fascinating to me that these macho filmmakers would make a story set in a girl’s school in the South. It’s such a male point of view of a group of women that I thought ‘Okay, I want to tell that story from the women’s point of view.’ “I felt like I had to give these women a voice, and then I thought to flip it over from their point of view and [show] women during wartime; you always see stories about men at war, but I don’t think I’ve seen what happens to the women left behind,” she explains.