If anyone has the potential to make special-edition DVDs cool again, its Sofia Coppola. On April 24, Criterion Collection will release the Academy Award winners macabre directorial feature debut—a dreamily shot, deeply unsettling meditation on loss, voyeurism, and the enduring mysteries of teenage girlhood, centered on the brief lives of the elusive Lisbon sisters and adapted from Jeffrey Eugenidess 1993 novel—via a special-edition Blu-ray.
“Its really thrilling to me,” Coppola said by phone Tuesday afternoon. “I was so excited to be included in their collection, because I love what they do. Obviously, it was my first film, and it didnt have much of a release at the time and there wasnt a good DVD of it. So to be able to have a really nice one, with all the content—its a thrill.”
Beyond the restored edition of the film itself, the DVD includes new interviews with Coppola, cinematographer Ed Lachman, and Eugenides, actors Kirsten Dunst and Josh Hartnett, and Tavi Gevinson, as well as Lick the Star, a 1998 short film by Coppola that set the tone for the directors interest in exploring the micro-dramas and heightened emotions of youth.
Coppola says she felt compelled to write her first feature-length script soon after falling in love with Eugenidess novel. Now, as Criterion essentially enshrines the film as a classic in its own right, she joked that she recently asked the distribution company whether anybody buys DVDs anymore. “And they said, yeah, there is this small niche of people that collect them—like vinyl.”
Coppola remembered the films summertime shoot as a family affair. “I have fond memories of that time,” she said. “We had a lot of enthusiasm from the young cast and the crew. I had my brother [Roman] and my husband [Spike Jonze, at the time] helping me. It was definitely scary, but there was so much to do, so we just figured it out.”
The Virgin Suicides also marked the start of Coppolas ongoing collaboration with a then 16-year-old Kirsten Dunst, a partnership that continued through 2006s Marie Antoinette and The Beguiled in 2017. “I loved working with Kirsten. I mean, obviously I guess. Thats when we met and had our first connection,” said Coppola. “We just clicked right away, and she knew what I had in mind . . . she was really there for me.” And of course, she added “it was fun to have Josh as Trip Fontaine.”
Post-Virgin Suicides, Coppola would famously go on to write and direct her second feature, Lost in Translation, which would gross $120 million worldwide and win her an Oscar for original screenplay. But Coppola insists that until she made her first film, she did not envision a future as a director, let alone one with the audacity to write a script set in Tokyo and starring Bill Murray. “I was in my twenties, and I was still trying to figure out [what I wanted to do],” she said. “But I really the credit [The Virgin Suicides] for making me a director . . . I feel so grateful to this book and to be able to [have made] this movie. It really started this career that I didnt quite know that I would follow.”
Another harbinger of her directorial personality is Lick the Star, Coppolas 16mm, teenage ennui-filled short, released in 1998—a year before The Virgin Suicides. The film, included in the forthcoming DVD, follows a group of seventh-grade girls who plan to poison some boys at school, as inspired by the latest installment on their syllabus, Flowers in the Attic. The film features a cast of relative unknowns, save for Peter Bogdanovich and Zoe Cassavetes as the school principal and P.E. teacher, respectively—plus an early cameo from Coppolas cousin, Robert Schwartzman.
Lick the Star offers a rare glimpse at Coppolas fascination with how hierarchy and group dynamics affect young women. “I feel like that time was so dramatic and heightened,” Coppola said. “I dont know, this thing happened in my junior high [that inspired the film] . . . and then I was talking to my daughters middle-school teacher who was telling the sixth graders that in seventh grade, girls are the worst. And I thought, Oh, its still the same. Seventh grade is the worst!”
Since its initial, limited U.S. release, The Virgin Suicides, has become a lightning rod for the young women who connect to its beautifully crafted, psychologically rich depiction of their inner lives. Even today, Coppolas interest in this subject is sometimes misunderstood—which proves just how pivotal her point of view remains. Coppola remembered speaking at Harvard earlier in the week, where someone asked her a question about why she so often films “women lying around, or characters lying around.”
“I was like, I dont know, I never thought about it. Thats what teenage girls do. Thats what you do when youre alone—you lie around and daydream . . . Its when you really have time to be lost in your interior.”
Adapting the Lisbon sisters story for the screen instilled Coppola with the confidence to call herself a director—and has likely inspired other young women to do the same. “[I wanted] to see my experience, or something I could relate to, or what I was into, in a film, because I didnt see teenage girls treated in a way that I connected to,” she said. “Except for John Hughes, who I loved. He was the only person who made films about young people that I related to—most movies were kind of cheap for kids, and they didnt have good cinematography. . . . I wanted to make something beautiful and poetic for girls, because I didnt see that—so I made something that I wanted to see.”
Get Vanity Fairs HWD NewsletterSign up for essential industry and award news from Hollywood.Full ScreenPhotos:Sarah Jessica Parker, Helen Mirren, and More Stars Unafraid to Repeat Red-Carpet Looks
Photo: Left, by David M. Benett/Dave Benett/Getty Images; right, by Vinnie Zuffante/Getty Images.
The dame wore Dolce & Gabbanas kids drawing print dress from the fashion houses fall 2015 collection on three separate occasions. First, at the 2015 Ischia Global Film & Music Fest in July; then, to opening night at the Metropolitan Opera in September; and finally, at the Gotham Awards in November.Photo: From left: by Venturelli/Getty Images, by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images, by D Dipasupil/FilmMagic.
The 20-time Oscar nominee first wore this Catherine Malandrino American-flag dress for the premiere of her film Doubt in 2008. Nearly eight years later, she pulled out her patriotic garb again at the Democratic National Convention in July 2016. She referenced wearing the dress one other time—to a White House screening of 2009s Julie and Julia—in a Times TalkPhoto: Left, Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/Getty Images; right, by Francois Durand/Getty Images.
Marie Claire noted that the model wore this high-necked Versace at the brands AW fashion show in Paris in 1998 (she reportedly kept it on for the afterparty) and again to the 2015 Fragrance Foundation Awards.Photo: Left, by Jim Spellman/WireImage; right, by RICHARD YOUNG/REX/Shutterstock.
Mendes wore the same Atelier Versace dress back to back at the Rome International Film Festival in 2010, first to a cocktail party, and then to the premiere of Little White Lies the next day.Photo: Left, by Elisabetta A. Villa/WireImage; right, by Tullio M. Puglia/Getty Images.
The actress wore this gauzy Chanel dress to the BAFTA Awards in 2008. The same dress became her wedding gown in 2013, and she wore it again (with sleeves and bejeweling) to a charity event that same year.Photo: Left, by Richard Young/REX/Shutterstock; right, by Karwai Tang/WireImage.
The Mindy Project creator wore this black cocktail dress to the Verte Grades of Green's Annual Fundraising Event in April 2013, two months after shed worn it to the Writers Guild Awards in L.A.Photo: Left, by Amanda Edwards/WireImage; right, by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic.PreviousNext