By Mark Harris
Updated January 05, 2001 at 05:00 AM EST

The Conversation

type
  • Movie
genre

If you think Steven Soderbergh is having a great year with ”Erin Brockovich” and ”Traffic,” consider this: 1974 brought two films from director Francis Ford Coppola, ”The Godfather Part II” and this subdued, wrenching, beautifully calibrated character study of a professional eavesdropper (Gene Hackman, in what may be his greatest performance) whose vocation turns on him, shattering his sense of professionalism, privacy, and even sanity. Though The Conversation started shooting in November 1972 and opened at the apex of the Watergate era’s national obsession with wiretapping, Coppola actually wrote the script back in the mid-1960s, and, as he explains in a feature-length commentary (a track, by the way, that proves him to be one of a small handful of great filmmakers who are also intelligent, forthcoming commentators on their own methods), his influences were really Hermann Hesse’s novels and Michelangelo Antonioni’s ”Blowup.” The result has arguably aged better than either of its sources: In its unsparing story line and superb synthesis of sound and image (the great Walter Murch, who also provides a commentary track, edited the film and oversaw its complex, fragmented sound mix), ”The Conversation” is thrillingly uncompromised. What higher praise than to note that it competed against ”Godfather II” for the Best Picture Oscar, and that 25 years later, which film is the best picture is still debatable?

Episode Recaps

The Conversation

type
  • Movie
genre
mpaa
  • PG
director
Advertisement

Comments