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FILM: One from the Heart: Reprise (1982)

“I wish I had a dollar for each time I took a chance.”

Listening to Tom Waits sing the opening line from One from the Heart it now seems strangely prophetic. The film’s director Francis Ford Coppola had just completed a run of highly successful movies in the 1970s – The Godfather, parts I and II, bisected by The Conversation and followed by Apocalypse Now – four towering landmarks in cinematic history. One from the Heart was his next film thereafter. A musical fairytale that indulged Coppola’s high school passion for musical theatre it was a flop, both critically and commercially, and contributed towards the bankruptcy of the director’s own Zoetrope Studios on whose sound stages the film was almost entirely set. During its production the film’s budget had escalated quite staggeringly from $2m to $25m.

Now more than 40 years after its original release, and in keeping with a number of his other past movies, Francis Ford Coppola has reworked and reissued One from the Heart. He says he has “made some improvements, crystallising the story, imagery, and music”, refining the material into a newly restored version that is some 14 minutes shorter than its original release.

An unprepossessing couple, Hank (Frederic Forrest) and Frannie (Terri Garr) have been together for five years but have reached different stages in their lives. Following an argument they separate and whilst apart they each meet someone new, their idealised romantic fantasy – in Hank’s case, this is Leila (Nastassja Kinski), for Frannie it’s Ray (Raul Julia) – before eventually finding redemption back in each other’s arms. The plot to One from the Heart is fairly unremarkable. Where the beauty and splendour of this film lies is in its production, cinematography, and soundtrack.

The storyline to One from the Heart is set in Las Vegas, a most highly appropriate location for what Francis Ford Coppola describes as “love, the biggest gamble in our lives.” Yet, as noted above, Sin City is recreated here in all of its astonishing artificiality on the sound stages of Coppola’s own studios in Hollywood. The more mundane premise of the film is then acted out against a spectacular hallucinatory backdrop alive with the most hyper-intense colouring. Shot in the style of live television – albeit with only one camera – Coppola achieves this exploratory, highly-stylised, almost surreal setting aided by the combined brilliance and invention of his production designer Dean Tavoularis and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro.

Yet the visual virtuosity of the film would surely be diluted without its accompanying soundtrack. Francis Ford Coppola had first approached Tom Waits about providing the music for One From The Heart after having heard Waits duet with Bette Midler on the song ‘I Never Talk To Strangers’ on the 1977 album, Foreign Affairs. Waits then developed the idea of a lounge operetta with piano, bass, drums, and tenor sax. The music is ultimately woven into the very fabric of the film with the songs providing a lyrical commentary. The singers – Waits and country music icon Crystal Gayle (Midler apparently declined the initial invitation to take part) – are both integral characters to the development of the story, providing critical musical transitions as they do so. 

One from the Heart harks back to the days of classic cinema, not least because it is filmed using a more traditional 4:3 aspect ratio as opposed to adopting the more contemporary widescreen approach. It also serves as a wonderful homage to the Golden Age of Hollywood from the nod to Orson Welles’ Citizen Kane in the opening sequence when a scene is shot through one of Las Vegas’s neon signs to the 1951 musical romantic comedy, An American in Paris and the way in which studio-set backdrops are incorporated. Furthermore, the legendary American dancer and choreographer Gene Kelly – the leading man in An American in Paris – was one of One from the Heart’s dance consultants. 

One from the Heart: Reprise, along with the 1982 cut, and a bumper package of brand-new and archive extras will be available to own on a special 4-disc 4K UHD, 2-disc Blu-Ray, and Digital for the first time from March 4th via STUDIOCANAL. The film will also be released on DVD on the same day. The Reprise version boasts never-before-seen footage, brand-new titles taken directly from the original camera negative, and over 19 minutes of footage replaced with new source scans.

God is in the TV is an online music and culture fanzine founded in Cardiff by the editor Bill Cummings in 2003. GIITTV Bill has developed the site with the aid of a team of sub-editors and writers from across Britain, covering a wide range of music from unsigned and independent artists to major releases.