It would be easy to believe that Sofia Coppola effortlessly ascended to the ranks of acclaimed award-winning director. Born into one of Hollywood’s most celebrated families, she was raised on film sets with the likes of Marlon Brando and Al Pacino. She had all of the right connections and all of the right opportunities.
At first she fought her genetic inclination for film. As a child she had cameo appearances in several of her father’s films, however the scathing criticism that followed her role in The Godfather III put her off acting.
In her teenage years she dabbled in fashion with an internship with Karl Lagerfeld at Chanel, took photographs for magazines and studied painting. However, she eventually realised that all of her interests ultimately led her to film and after reading The Virgin Suicides decided that she would follow in her famous father’s footsteps.
Even with the best possible foundations, Coppola still faced the daunting reality of trying to make a name for herself away from her father’s shadow and in an industry that is not only extremely competitive but also male dominated.
At the 40th annual Women in Film Crystal & Lucy Award it was revealed that only 28 per cent of top grossing films in 2012 had speaking parts for women, and only nine per cent of all films made that year were directed by women. In fact studies have found that there is a ratio of 5 males to every female working behind the camera, a statistic that has not changed in the last five years.
Upon receiving a Crystal & Lucy Award, Coppola said, “I hope my getting the award encourages other women to express themselves.”
It is possible to see how her experiences in this environment may have influenced the themes of her work that often explore isolation but also depict a reality in which women are oppressed, not necessarily by men but by cultural myths that have become societal norms. Whether it be Marie Antoinette in a strict traditional monarchy or image-obsessed teens living through social media, Coppola’s female characters follow the rules dictated to them by the world and are punished for it.
“You can’t totally blame them, because they’re young and they’re being shown that this is what’s valued in that society”, says Coppola on her characters in the Bling Ring, based on an actual group of young teens that burgled celebrities’ houses.
However, Coppola is not a political filmmaker. She is never overtly feminist, but rather subtly weaves these themes seamlessly into her work. Despite having only directed five films, she has already made her mark on the industry with her unique style that has been celebrated by peers such as the Coen brothers, and critics alike.
Indeed it cannot be denied that despite her auspicious beginning, it is Coppola’s fierce talent and unique eye that has seen her move from under her fathers shadow and flourish as a respected professional in a difficult industry.
We are excited to see how she applies her distinctive lense to her next project- a real-life adaptation of Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid.
If you loved this article there are plenty more on woman with drive. Stay up to spend and receive all the latest articles first – before everyone else! Subscribe to our fortnightly newsletter here.
You may also like