Director reunited with lost Apocalypse Now typewriter

Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.
Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now.

Francis Ford Coppola has been reunited with the typewriter he used while working on Apocalypse Now, nearly four decades after he left it in a Tokyo hotel room.

The acclaimed US director also got back a reel of film believed to be a rough cut of the legendary Vietnam war movie, which he had also abandoned during his stay in the Japanese capital.

The inn's owner, Miyako Yanagiya, returned the now-valuable items at the glitzy Hotel Okura, where the filmmaker made a media appearance ahead of his receipt of Japan's top arts award, the Praemium Imperiale.

Yanagiya said Coppola had left them behind after a two-week stay in her Tamagawa Inn, a traditional-style lodging in Tokyo, in the mid- to late-1970s as he grappled with editing and financing an epic that would become one of the most acclaimed war films of all time.

The kimono-clad Yanagiya, who had been hovering at the back of the room, came forward as journalists wrapped up their questions to present Coppola with his lost property.

The director accepted the film reel, but autographed the typewriter and gave it back to his one-time hostess.

"You keep that and I will come back there sometime to stay in my room," he told her.

Apocalypse Now, the 1979 epic based on Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, had a difficult birth, Coppola recalled.

"I was very depressed," he told journalists.

"I was in a financial disaster, and I was in a tough place. I came to Japan to try to think and write.''

He took a moderate room on the first floor of the Tamagawa to focus on his work.

"At night, I would sleep and I would hear geisha going up the stairs ... Click, click, click. I never saw them, but I heard them," Coppola recalled.

At the end of his stay, he borrowed the kitchen at Tamagawa and cooked "a big Italian dinner" for about 25 people he knew in the city.

"It was very good. Geishas came and they were eating with chopsticks," he said.

Tokyo enjoys unusual public safety for a modern metropolis, with inhabitants and visitors accustomed to getting back their lost property.

Wallets and passports, for example, are likely to be handed into police with all money and credit cards still inside.

Coppola, whose daughter Sofia is expected in Japan for the Tokyo International Film Festival (TIFF), which starts on Thursday, said he was excited about the future of the cinema industry.

Technological advancement in filmmaking equipment and personal gadgets like high resolution smart phones and tablet computers opened new doors for auteurs.

Coppola is one of five recipients of the Praemium Imperiale this year, which also honours Spanish tenor Placido Domingo, Italian painter Michelangelo Pistoletto, British sculptor Antony Gormley and British architect David Chipperfield.

Each laureate receives money, as well as a medal and testimonial letter to mark their lifetime service to the arts.


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