Megalopolis, the most anticipated film of the Cannes Festival and which marks the return of Francis Ford Coppola after a 13-year hiatus, has shipwrecked with its vision of a United States that is decomposing in the style of the fall of the Roman Empire. And this despite the ten minutes of applause that the director of the magnificent Godfather saga received after the gala screening last night at the Lumière theatre.

The film had aroused too much expectation. More than 40 years invested in a dream project that has resisted him more than once, which he has rewritten and in which he has invested more than 100 million dollars by selling part of his vineyards to finance a work that Tripictures will distribute in Spain. “I’m afraid the film industry has become more about hiring people to meet their debt obligations because the studios are very, very in debt. And the job is not so much to make good movies, but to make sure that they pay their debt obligations,” he said at a press conference in which he was accompanied by the cast of the film, including Adam Driver and Giancarlo Esposito, and his two granddaughters. .

“When I came with Apocalypse Now I was carrying Sofia in my arms,” the 85-year-old director, who won his second Palme d’Or with his peculiar vision of the Vietnam War – the first was with The Conversation in 1974 – recalled nostalgically. It was precisely during that chaotic filming in the Philippines, documented by his own wife Eleonor, that the filmmaker developed the idea of ​​making an epic Roman story that would take place in a modern United States. “I didn’t know that today’s politics would make it so relevant,” confessed Coppola, who was always clear about the parallels between the Roman era and his country, since the United States is based on “the idea of ​​the Roman Republic.” ”. Coppola, who recently suffered the death of Eleonor, to whom he dedicates the film, received applause from journalists when he entered the room leaning on a cane. At the press screening there were boos and lukewarm applause. The vast majority have referred to Megalopolis as “nonsense”, “an absolute disaster”.

The truth is that we are facing an excellent work, against the current and unclassifiable, very difficult to digest, which is presented as a fable surrounded by the most bizarre characters. Through the classic text The Conjuration of Catilina, by Gaius Sallust, the first historical monograph of Latin literature, the director traces a dialogue between Ancient Rome and the present, set in a New York that calls itself New Rome and in the that corruption reigns, bacchanals and there are even gladiators. We also witness a million-dollar bid for the virginity of a singer in a Roman circus. Everything very chaotic.

Megalopolis begins right with an Adam Driver who, from the heights of the Chrysler Building, makes magic and stops time. The actor plays César Catilina, a visionary Nobel Prize-winning architect who wants to build a city model based on well-being and respect for nature in order to avoid social collapse in a world in absolute decline, something that clashes with the interests of Mayor Cicero (Espósito).

The film wanders between betrayals and self-serving alliances and Driver’s character’s concern for managing time and imagining a better society. An idea that resonates everywhere in Coppola’s vision as an authentic wish for the future for future generations. “Men like Donald Trump are not in charge right now, but there is a trend in the world towards a more neo-right, even fascist tradition, which is terrifying because anyone who was alive during World War II saw the horrors that occurred. and we don’t want that to be repeated,” he says. And he believes that “the role of the artist, of films, is to shed light on what is happening in the world.”

Jon Voight, who supports the Republican Party, has been asked how he would make a better world. “You contribute to it by making this film,” the actor replied, in line with the admiration for Coppola’s vision of all the actors present. Lawrence Fishbourne, whom he met when he was 14, has said he is very proud of a “magical” film. “Francis has always talked about the possibility of stopping time.” Driver has highlighted his great generosity and Talia Shire, the director’s sister, has recalled that he was already a visionary at the age of 9. “Every day my brother makes you move forward.”

Asked about the risk of investing so much money out of his pocket, Coppola downplayed the importance and stated: “I have never cared about risking my money, I only care about friends, who never leave you stranded. My children don’t need any fortune because they already have wonderful careers,” commented the same man who already went bankrupt with Corazonada (1982).

In the press conference, which began late, they avoided asking him about the accusations of inappropriate behavior on the filming set that The Guardian published. The Cannes festival has been in charge of covering the figure of one of the most important directors in cinema in what is possibly his last film. Many hands raised but only a few questions because there was no time for more. And all of them were aimed at paying respect to Coppola, who has insisted that the film “was made thanks to a true collaboration” praising the actors’ roles.

Despite his advanced age, he continues to think about new stories and predicts that “in 20 years I will be here.” He proudly acknowledges that he has always done what he wanted and that when he dies “I will be thinking that I made every film I wanted to make, that I saw my daughter win an Oscar, that I made wine… I won’t even have time to realize it.”