As I write today, I'm thinking about the first time I saw Francis Ford Coppola's truly extraordinary Apocalypse Now - at a preview of its original release - and the unbelievable thrill of hearing the sound of the chopper blades moving around the cinema, and the extraordinary, hallucinogenic flow of images that washed across the screen - and a narrative that was both visionary and experimental, yet grounded in fabulous storytelling - with, of course, a powerful element at its core of Joseph Conrad's already remarkable The Heart of Darkness.
Along with Nicolas Roeg's Performance and certain other films, Apocalypse Now was one of the movies that cemented both my belief that cinema could be GREAT and mind-challenging and provocative and enjoyable and thrilling beyond belief - and BEAUTIFUL - and also one of the movies that made me want to make movies, to aspire to make something as great and as fearless - it certainly was in my mind (there's a direct reference to it in the novel, if you look for it) when I wrote The War Zone.
I also remember reading Eleanor Coppola's (Francis' wife's) account of the making of the film, Notes, which detailed both a significant breakdown in their marriage, a significant breakdown in Francis' personal finances (he had to bet his own money on the film to get it completed - and a lot of money at that, millions of dollars), as well as some kind of profound personal/psychological breakdown on his part - all while filming in the Philippines with the full resources of the Philippine Navy and Air Force (hence, all the choppers) and the heat and humidity and insanity of the jungle.
It is still a remarkable film, and one that I measure others by: how often does a movie come along that sends the kind of charge through your senses that Apocalypse Now did and does? That makes you think about the wildest possibilities of film, or of shadow stories in the dark around a jungle fire?
I still want to create my own worlds of craziness and wonder. It might be in a romantic comedy - who knows, I'd love that? - or it might be with a tale of darkness and despair.