On Sunday, Sofia Coppola became the second woman to win the Best Director Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, a remarkable landmark in the history of a 70-year-old festival that has awarded its top honor, the Palme d'Or, only once before to a female filmmaker.
That woman was Jane Campion, and Coppola made sure to thank her as “a role model" for "supporting women filmmakers" in remarks delivered by juror Maren Ade, herself a director, in Coppola's absence.
The Beguiled, which premiered at Cannes Film Festival and opens in the U.S. on June 23, is set during the Civil War, but like everything Coppola creates, it has a sense of timelessness.
From her first feature films, The Virgin Suicides and Lost in Translation (for which she won an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay), Coppola has always been inspired by popular culture. Who but
Coppola could reimagine the biography of Marie Antoinette with post-punk panache and a soundtrack that included Bow Wow Wow’s 1980s hit song “I Want Candy”?
Coppola’s vision as a filmmaker is informed by all manner of imagery and artifacts, so we asked her to deconstruct some of her latest projects, including The Beguiled, which was filmed in and around New Orleans and stars Nicole Kidman alongside Coppola muses Kirsten Dunst and Elle Fanning, as well as two commercials she created for Cartier and Calvin Klein.
As always, her mood boards featured images from the quirkiest fringes of the ’60s, ’70s, and ’80s—a time of authenticity, when personal style and photography weren’t so micromanaged by professional image-makers.
The Beguiled is based on a decidedly more macho film by Don Siegel from 1971 starring Clint Eastwood. But Coppola has always been attracted to a specific sort of woman, and in her version, a wounded Union soldier (played by Colin Farrell) is rescued by a group of young ladies who are virtual prisoners in a school for girls.
Since the onset of the war, they have not been able to leave the premises and have not laid eyes on a man; their reaction to their male charge is a toxic brew of desire and rage. In the end, sisterhood prevails, but the victory is bittersweet. As with most of Coppola’s heroines, their real triumph is their individuality.
Watch: The Best Advice Sofia Coppola Received From Her Dad, Francis Ford Coppola: "Don't Wait for Permission"