November 28, 2003 at 05:00 AM EST

One from the Heart

Current Status
In Season
Crystal Gale, Tom Waits
Soundtracks, Reissues

Francis Ford Coppola wants a do-over. The visionary who put Michael Corleone on the screen and gave rise to a generation of Tarantinos with Apocalypse Now has rereleased the most obscure work in his oeuvre: the critically panned money pit One From the Heart (in select theaters now and on DVD Jan. 27).

”You tend to love your children that have the afflictions,” says Coppola of his 1982 digital ”experiment” that went so wildly over budget it almost brought down his studio, American Zoetrope. The highly stylized romantic musical, which starred Teri Garr and Frederic Forrest, with songs written by Tom Waits, was to be Coppola’s first foray into a new era of digital cinema. What it became instead was an expensive embarrassment that threw Coppola into debt for a decade. ”I shook my head and said, ‘God, this is going to destroy me,”’ he recalls. ”’The bank now owns everything that I thought I owned.’ It was all done for something I didn’t write.”

The director now holds the deed to the film — a lesson he passed on to his filmmaking daughter, Sofia, who owns Lost in Translation and her 1999 feature directorial debut, The Virgin Suicides. Clearly, he has a soft spot for Heart, and it’s not just in his wallet. It helps that he’ll collect from the box office (the film will eventually open on 28 screens nationwide) and the jam-packed two-disc DVD set. But the rerelease seems less about money than about snatching the film back from failure. ”I would just like it to be seen out of the context of ‘Oh, this is the guy who made Apocalypse Now and he was crazy then and look, he’s still crazy,’ and just be seen as this little thing, as what it was: a simple love story.”

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