By Shane Scott-Travis
“There’s a strong case to be made for The Conversation being Coppola’s greatest film.”
Paranoia, the destroyer
A bright, unclouded afternoon in San Francisco as a busy plaza teems with people in a sharply impressive telephoto shot as outlying music coalesces with electronic intonations. Tracking a circus mime through the bustling crowd before finding one Harry Caul (Gene Hackman), dressed in a plastic raincoat, and wearing a rather unemphatic hearing device, this tenuously nondescript man is the standard-bearer of Francis Ford Coppola’s analytical, Kafkaesque classic from 1974, The Conversation.
This opening shot, once the film starts to congregate into sharp focus, is as exact, revealing and concentrated as the screenplay, also written by Coppola, which he considers to be the most personal project of his career.
Made amidst an unprecedented swell of creativity, Coppola emerged between the exalted occurrence of Godfather I (1972) and Godfather II (1974), and while those paired epics are nothing to flout, The Conversation, on such a smaller scale, is still every bit as exciting. In fact, one could well argue that The Conversation rivals the Godfather films as far as being a pisstake on the moral disintigration of America.
Emblematic of a very 1970s filament of political paranoid cinema, The Conversation made it crystal clear that to observe the world was, unfailingly, to be paranoid.
“The Conversation is such a fantastic idea: being able to hear the same conversation six or seven times, and each time it takes on a slightly different meaning. It’s sort of like Blow Up where you see a photograph at different times and read all kinds of different things into it as the picture goes on.”
– Brian De Palma
Said discreetly, heard everywhere
As professional audio surveillance expert Harry Caul, Gene Hackman delivers an exceptionally withdrawn and vigorously internalized performance. Caul
From:: Taste Of Cinema