Francis Ford Coppola has fond memories of seeing Michael Powell’s The Tales of Hoffmann with his brother August. "As you can imagine, I’d never seen this type of thing. Whenever I think of my brother, some part of me thinks of The Tales of Hoffmann." When Coppola settled into a filmmaking career during the 1970s, he — along with other directors on the rise, such as Martin Scorsese — praised the stunning work of Powell and his moviemaking partner Emeric Pressburger (who dubbed themselves the Archers). They revived an interest in the duo, rallying for home video releases and more throughout the years.
Although Powell — who did the majority of the directing — has now been established as a premiere filmmaking talent, his career tells a different story. Powell's 1960 movie Peeping Tom vilified the English director and essentially destroyed his career. The voyeuristic tale about a serial killer who murders women and captures their death on film was controversial at the time for its sexual, violent overtones, but the 1970s dream team of upcoming directors helped reveal its genius and influence.
It should come as no surprise then that Coppola modeled his famous Zoetrope studio after Powell's home base in England. The British film studio Pinewood was where Powell made most of his movies — many of them landmarks in British filmmaking, like Oliver Twist
and The Red Shoes
. There is now a theater there named after the director. Before Powell's death in 1990, Coppola invited the filmmaker to Zoetrope and they had several meetings. Powell became
his technical advisor, and a video of the two filmmaking greats discussing the importance of studios was recently posted on Tumblr Cinephilia & Beyond
. (Is that Coppola's son Roman tagging along?) "There's something about the atmosphere of a studio which is for me home," Powell says to Coppola in the brief, rare clip. Both men clearly consider the studio a heart of a film, and the clip is a neat look at two generations of auteurs sharing a common bond.