Let me start by saying that I adore Francis Ford Coppola; the man is a visionary and iconic filmmaker that will make prolific films until he decides to stop and his career will be remembered for years after it ends. That being said, there are times I question Coppola’s filmmaking decisions…while I can’t say that I question why he made Youth Without Youth, I really can’t say that I understand the movie at all.
In the early stages of Hitler’s Germany Dominic is a 70 year old professor who is tired of life, and goes away on a trip where he is immediately struck by lightning. Dominic should be dead, but instead after weeks of medical care he heals and reveals that he now has an approximately 40 year old body; he allows himself to be studied by the doctor that oversaw him until Hitler’s scientists discover his existence and try to take him into custody. Dominic then lives the life of a fugitive as he continues his research on the origin of language.
This is a strange film, not a bad one, but a strange one. Along his journey Dominic discovers that he is gaining “super powers” including the ability to absorb information from objects, manipulate objects, and he uncovers that the lightning strike has created multiple personalities within him. Dominic does not age but if he spends too long around a loved one they age at a rapid rate. The film is a study of language, history and the possibility of past lives, but does not settle on one topic for very long as it studies the life that Dominic now leads.
One of my favorite things about Coppola is that he is not afraid to take risks. One of my favorite visual hints in Youth Without Youth is Coppola’s use of the upside down image; I won’t say what Coppola is indicating by using this but the images that he chooses to invert are striking and aid in his ultimate goal which is to make the audience think about what they are watching and why.
Youth Without Youth shares some of the same ideas as The Curious Case of Benjamin Button; the ideas of love, youth, life and experience. However, while I cannot say I am a huge fan of Benjamin Button or Youth Without Youth I do have to say that I enjoyed the journey a bit more in the case of Youth Without Youth.
Director & Writer: Francis Ford Coppola
Dominic: Tim Roth
Veronica/Laura: Alexandra Maria Lara