While cinefiles debate the merits of Apocalypse Now Redux, the restless imagination of Francis Ford Coppola has already moved on to his next film, Megalopolis, scheduled to begin shooting early in 2002. In fact, Coppola's been working on the screenplay for Megalopolis off and on for 12 years. According to David Germain's summary in an AP story, the movie "focuses on a man who sets out to build a utopian city. He clashes with big business forces who fear that this dreamer's notions of societal perfection will undermine their financial interests."

Coppola fleshes out the vision of the film a bit in conversation with Germain: "I'm trying to say, what's really possible? Do we really have to live in this kind of pay-per-view world in which everybody's going to be in debt and a few people are going to own whatever the key resources are?

"Or are we going to live in a world that is really created by artists and scientists, and is just uplifting for people. Because we could." Coppola adds that in this future he envisions, "Everyone's going to be an artist. That's the destiny of the human being. We're not going to worry about doing dumb work."

Coppola's effusions provide more evidence, if any was needed, that even great artists can be idiots. But his "educated stab at future history" also reminds us of the powerfully ambiguous image of the city concentrated in the word "megalopolis." The first Megalopolis, as we saw last week, was a planned city in fourth-century B.C. Greece, an Attic Brasilia intended to serve as a unifying capital for a federation of city states. This would be a city greater than Athens, the supreme monument to the greatness of Greek culture. You can still visit Megalopolis today, but it is just a small town, a historical ...

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