Coppola and Eliade: Youth Without Youth
New York Times film critic A. O. Scott wrote a lovely article for last Sunday’s paper about Francis Ford Coppola’s forthcoming film adaptation of Youth Without Youth—a surreal, philosophy-driven novella by Mircea Eliade (1907-1986)—the University of Chicago professor whose writings in the history of religions defined the field. Scott’s article begins:
Youth Without Youth, Francis Ford Coppola’s first film in 10 years, is about Dominic Matei, an elderly Romanian professor of linguistics who, after being struck by lightning, becomes young again. Though Matei, played by Tim Roth, retains a septuagenarian’s memories and experiences, his body, restored to 30-year-old fighting trim, is mysteriously immune to the effects of time.
The professor’s condition is presented as a medical curiosity and a metaphysical conundrum—like the novella by Mircea Eliade on which it is based, Mr. Coppola’s movie is a complex, symbol-laden meditation on the nature of chronology, language, and human identity—but it also speaks to a familiar and widespread longing. What if, without losing the hard-won wisdom of age, you could go back and start again? What if you could reverse and arrest the process of growing old, securing the double blessing of a full past and a limitless future?
Coinciding with the film’s international premiere at the Rome Film Fest, the Press will be releasing the first paperback edition of Eliade’s novel in late October featuring a new foreword by Coppola himself. The U. S. release of the film is scheduled for December. In the meantime you can find the official website for the film at http://www.ywyfilm.com/. You can also view a trailer at rottentomatoes.com.