A few weeks ago, Khoi Vinh wrote “Conversation Pieces” about one of my all-time favorite movies, Francis Ford Coppola’s The Conversation. Then it was playing in The Galaxy Hut last week when I was hanging out with @princeofwhy. And now Jim Emmerson’s Scanners blog writes an Opening Shots piece on it. See also, from a few years ago, “What Netflix Could Teach Hollywood”, which goes into how Netflix has allowed The Conversation to become popular again despite being relatively obscure (Long Tail and whatnot).
I first saw the film in a class called “Philosophy of Narrative Art” at William & Mary, taught by Professor Lawrence Becker. Aside from getting “When the Red, Red Robin” fucking permanently stuck in my head, we looked at how the film was inspired by Julio Cortézar’s short story “Las Babas del Diablo” and Michelangelo Antonioni’s Blow-Up. Blow-Up features a photographer who thinks he sees something in a photo (and also the first instance of full-frontal female nudity in British film), where The Conversation moves the concept to an audio technician who becomes obsessed over a recording (and also an amazing performance by Gene Hackman, a different and ultimately more lasting claim to fame than that of the preceding parenthetical). Coppola naturally doesn’t credit either influence, but he didn’t mention Joseph Conrad in Apocalypse Now, either.