Books for the News, Literature

Youth Without Youth

jacket imageFrancis Ford Coppola’s newest film, Youth Without Youth, opened on both coasts last Friday. The film is based on the book of the same name written by Mircea Eliade, who was a professor in the history of religions at the University of Chicago. The first paperback edition of Youth Without Youth features a new foreword by Coppola.
Bookforum has an interview with the director that makes some interesting comparisons between the film and the book. Coppola discusses his decision to adapt the book for the big screen:

Originally, for another project, I had been thinking about the twin challenge of cinematic language, which is the expression and manipulation of time while finding ways to try and tap into our unique human consciousness. It’s hard to explain it, but we all kind of know what it is: that little thing in your head that seems to be you, through which you see all your experience and feel your emotion. A lot of filmmakers in the past, even the great Sergei Eisenstein, had thought about the representation of human consciousness. He wrote about it in the second of his books [Film Form (1949)], I think. A friend of mine who was an Orientalist and a scholar pointed me to some quotes from Mircea Eliade, whom I didn’t know much about. I read some of these references, which ultimately led me to this novella. And it was a hell of a thing. It surprised me at every turn: Just when I’d think I got the story, it would turn a new page. It starts off with this lightning strike. And then he’s rejuvenated. And suddenly he’s talking to his double. And then the Nazis are after him. And he meets this woman who seems to be the reincarnated figure of an ancient Indian nun. I kept thinking, “What next?” I felt it could be made into a film that could be enjoyed on first viewing as a surprising story, but then you could see it again and find things to ruminate on more, about our perception of reality. Given my age and where I was at the time, I found myself with the opportunity to just go off and make it and not even tell anyone that I was making it.

Manohla Dargis reviewed the film last Friday in the New York Times. You can read the review and view a slideshow and the trailer for the film on their website. But take heed of the note about the film’s rating at the end of the review:
Youth Without Youth is rated R (Under 17 requires accompanying parent or adult guardian). Gun violence, sexual congress, female nudity, metaphysics.”
Ah, metaphysics. We have the opening pages of the book.