The year 2022 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the release of the masterpiece. The Godfather (The Godfather). For the occasion, the Paramount+ platform and the Paramount studio, once rescued by the phenomenal success of Francis Ford Coppola’s film, offer The offer (review in box), a historical series mixed with fiction dedicated to this great work. The initiative is not surprising, since Hollywood has always liked to look in the mirror.
Only in the last month The unbearable weight of Massive Talent (A talent in solid gold), where actor Nicolas Cage parodies himself, and Xwhere the apprentice pornographers are murdered on the estate where they came to shoot, offered contrasting examples of this fascination of the seventh art for itself.
Do the ordinary with the exceptional
From sunset boulevard. (dusk boulevardfrom Billy Wilder, 1950) to The memory part II (by Joanna Hogg, 2021), via Singing in the rain (let’s sing in the rainby Gene Kelly and Stanley Donen, 1952), 8 1/2 (from Federico Fellini, 1963), the american night (by Francois Truffaut, 1973), lobster day (the day of the plagueby John Schlesinger, 1978), Postcards from the edge (hollywood kissesby Mike Nichols, 1990), The player (Leaderby Robert Altman, 1992), ed wood (from Tim Burton, 1994), Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (Unusual Nightmare by Wes Craven1994), Mulholland Drive (from David Lynch, 2001), Pass (by Bertrand Tavernier, 2002), or even The artist (The artistby Michel Hazanavicius, 2011), to name a few, films set in the wonderful world of cinema, or in its less brilliant fringes, form a subgenre in themselves.
A subgenre, therefore, of which the big screen does not have a monopoly, as shown by television series such as Surroundings Where barry (not to mention all those related to the television industry). The offer it is, however, unique in that its foundations (but not all of its developments) are historical. In this sense, the fact that the series is related to the story of a real movie brings it closer to menby David Fincher, on the origins of the film Citizen Kane, hitchcockby Sacha Gervasi, on the set of psychology (Psychosis), Whereshadow of the vampire (the shadow of the vampire), from. Elijah Merhige, both making of and pure fiction about that of Nosferatu.
save his soul
Whether or not it is based on fact, there is more to this self-reflective tendency than mere vanity. In an essay published in variety In 2015, John Anderson started with this hypothesis:
“What’s consistent with movies about movies, a genre that goes back to the Edison studios, is that they always seem to be about transformation, which makes sense: the almost miraculous alchemy of light, words and chemicals. [ou pixels] in the art of entertainment makes cinema synonymous with change and reinvention. And since one of the byproducts of transformation is redemption, it makes sense that saving the soul would be the other theme of movies about cinema. »
It should be noted here that for the artist, the soul is generally synonymous with artistic integrity. Hence the recurrence, in these productions, of protagonists facing innumerable creative and logistical difficulties, as well as the interference of fundraisers and other executives with an accounting mentality. Furthermore, the antagonist in The offer is such a character. Inexplicably relegated to the background in the series, Coppola for his part corresponded in every way with this idea of the “besieged” artist, as evoked in a recent wide-angle dedicated to The Godfather :
“Coppola fought hard to impose his artistic vision. However, he was not in a strong position: despite the good reviews, his films […] it had been unsuccessful, and the young director was struggling to feed his family. »
In short, in the face of so much adversity, each film is a miracle: a reality that anyone who has known or been interested in the process is aware of. Depending on the sensitivity of the filmmakers who lend themselves to the exercise, the variants are endless: satirical, hagiographic, tragic, elegiac, realistic…
The temptation of complacency
However, there is a risk of looking in the mirror in this way, as introspection sometimes gives way to self-satisfaction. Inside The Guardianwrote Steve Rose in 2021 on the subject:
“But when these stories are rewritten into fiction and run through the machine that made them, they are prone to a mythological and generally self-satisfied glorification of Hollywood. »
If the films mentioned stand out, it is in particular because they avoid this pitfall. Many others do not escape it and, losing themselves in a superficial narcissistic contemplation, in the long run they leave no trace other than a selfie. It’s probably the fate that awaits The offerwhose complacency is the least of the problems here.
It doesn’t matter, after television, the cinema will take back its rights to this story with the film Francis and the godfather, in which Oscar Isaac will play Francis Ford Coppola. Let’s hope that for this second look back, the rearview mirror does not become, again, a mirror with larks.