Baby Boomers and Their Generation Y Children
Ford Coppola led the 1970s wave of filmmakers with such classic films
as The Godfather trilogy based on Mario Puzo's best selling
book, and Apocolypse Now based on Joseph Conrad's classic,
Heart of Darkness. Now, his daughter Sofia has shown that
she has the potential to be an authoritative voice for a new generation
of filmmakers. Her first feature, The Virgin Suicides, is
based on the 1993 critically praised debut novel of the same name, by
elder Coppola taught moviegoers—quite sincerely—about family values, mafia
style, during the "me generation's" hey-day. The younger Coppola
explores the disintegration of traditional suburban values, a theme that
speaks to the understandably cynical, ironic youth of today, but without
the smug/hipster tone that so many recent films have fallen back on.
Coppola cast the film well by bringing together two up-and-coming young
stars, Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett, with two baby boomer actors, Kathleen
Turner and James Woods, who have shifted from leading roles to parent
figures. It's interesting to note that each of the four main actors is
"ruled" by, or associated with, one of the four astrological
Dunst is a Taurus (earth), and speaks to teenage girls of all eras as
she longs for the security and comfort of family, but also cannot deny
her sensual needs. Josh Hartnett, a Cancer (water), plays a youth who
feels compelled to deny his water sign feminine traits. Instead, he succumbs
to hyper-sexual/masculine behavior as a way to exert power and avoid more
complex emotional relationships. Kathleen Turner, a Gemini (air), plays
the suburban mom, a charming, sociable woman who possesses strong theories
about what her values are, but somehow is unable to bridge the emotional
gap between herself and her loved ones. James Woods, an Aries (fire),
plays the teacher/dad who feels most comfortable taking action rather
than exploring the subtleties of his own nature, his family and his world.
and Dunst: Voices of Kids Who Missed Out on Innocence
Dunst plays Lux Lisbon, one of five beautiful young sisters, all of whom
end up committing suicide in this morbid, yet dreamy tale of innocence
lost. Her character is the only sister to lose her virginity—to high school
heartthrob Trip Fontaine, played by teen idol Josh Hartnett. Both actors
will most certainly look back on this film as having provided them with
early "break out" roles—performances that show great depth and
range, and that urge the moviegoing public and the critics to take these
two pretty faces very seriously.
is impressive about these performances is that, although the film takes
place in the early 70s (before most of their fans, or the actors themselves
were born!), the sensibility is undeniably late 90s, or, in a phrase,
"post-Columbine." The feeling the stars in this film induce
are reminders of how today's kids have been denied innocence, not just
because of the massive sex and violence images that bombard them (the
same could be said of the 1960s Vietnam/free love generation), but because
of a non-stop parade of superficial "wisdom" (from confessional
talk shows to the information-heavy, but emotionally-isolated Internet)
that has left them jaded, confused and rightfully cynical about the world
they've inherited. These kids don't have a cause like Vietnam; instead
they have post-Watergate, economic boomtime, suburban boredom emptiness.
Hartnett seems destined to be a spokesman for this new generation of young
men. His Jupiter (good luck) makes a wide conjunction to his Sun (one’s
place in the world) in Cancer, the sign of the child and the parent. No
doubt, as he grows older he will find some of his most challenging and
satisfying roles playing complex husbands and fathers, who must find a
balance between their sensitivity and feminine traits (water sign characteristics)
and the sometimes hyper-masculine backlash impulses that many Cancer men
are prone to. (Other famous male Cancers include brilliant writer Ernest
Hemingway, who drank and fought bulls to smother his more gentle urges,
and Tom Cruise, a sensitive young actor of the 80s who fought against
rumors of homosexuality by taking one empty action hero role after another.
Not accidentally, Cruise found his real success when he deeply explored
his Cancerian issues in his two Oscar-nominated turns in Jerry Maguire
Dunst's North Node (what she's meant to accomplish in this life) is also
in the sign of Cancer, which is probably why she is drawn to the child/parent
issues associated with that sign. In additon, her Jupiter makes a wide
conjunction (intense connection) to Hartnett's Uranus in Scorpio. Uranus
is the planet of controversy, progress and generational change, and Scorpio
is the sign of sex, death and transformation. Their onscreen chemistry
is more than just a superficially sexy one; together these young stars
unconsciously transmit the struggles of all kids of their era.
and Woods: Changing Their Images With the Times
parent figures in The Virgin Suicides, Kathleen Turner and
James Woods, have also chosen career-transforming roles. Woods is a super
fire sign, with six planets in this masculine element. He's made a good
living playing tough guys, but in this film, he has gone "against type"
by playing a very nerdy, emasculated father who is overwhelmed by the
six women he lives with.
Turner, who plays the matriarch, is probably most memorable in her 1981
breakout role as the sultry post-noir femme fatale Maddy opposite another
Aries man, William Hurt, in Lawrence Kasdan's Body Heat.
But in recent years, she has found a new set of roles, all of them maternal
and a bit bizarre, from John Waters' Serial Mom to her recent
scandalous (because she bared all) theatrical role as seductive mother
Mrs. Robinson, in the London production of The Graduate.
Like Hartnett, Turner has Jupiter, as well as Mercury and Uranus, in Cancer,
so its no wonder she has such a gift for playing archetypal mothers.
actor in The Virgin Suicides brings a different astrological
element to the texture of the story but it is themes of Cancerian "family
values" and Plutonian themes of sexuality and transformation that are
the most prominent, and the most haunting. It's a dreamy Paradise
Lost for a new lost generation.