6 user

A Legacy of Filmmakers: The Early Years of American Zoetrope (2004)

Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and many others discuss the history, troubles, and legacy of American Zoetrope.


Gary Leva


Gary Leva


Add Image Add an image

Do you have any images for this title?



Cast overview, first billed only:
Richard Dreyfuss ... Narrator (voice)
Robert Dalva ... Self
Francis Ford Coppola ... Self
Steven Spielberg ... Self
George Lucas ... Self
Martin Scorsese ... Self
Carroll Ballard ... Self
Ronald Colby ... Self (as Ron Colby)
John Calley ... Self
John Milius ... Self
Walter Murch ... Self
Willard Huyck ... Self
Caleb Deschanel ... Self
Tony Dingman Tony Dingman ... Self
Robert Duvall ... Self


Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas and many others discuss the history, troubles, and legacy of American Zoetrope.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Did You Know?


This documentary is featured on the 2-Disc edition DVD for THX 1138 (1971), released in 2004 and later on the Blu-Ray release of THX-1138. See more »


References Pillow Talk (1959) See more »

User Reviews

A must-see documentary
12 April 2020 | by CriticalstaffSee all my reviews

I love this documentary. It is fantastic piece of knowledge on a pivotal time in American Cinema. I think more than any other it gives us a look at that late 60's-early 70s Californian/Hippie ethos of we are gonna change the world and we will not repeat the mistakes of our forefathers. Of course it is not all there is here, there is talk about generation at the beginning and how basically the ideological/thematic/cultural revolution these guys were leading was first and foremost generational. But it might just be me right now looking at it from 2020, when generational fracture is deeper than ever.

What I like about this doc is that it follows the film making business and industry more than the film making itself. it is pretty rare to have Scorcese, Spielberg and other talk about the movie industry in such a relaxed casual manner. Now when you hear them talk, it is to deplore the studio system and the fact that corporate greed/control crushes the soul of the artist filmmaker. Obvisouly it is on full display here, but it made more sense to me because you understand the motivation and you see the roots of the distrust between someone like Lucas and the studios. Usually these conversations are pretty shallow or political in nature, with an endgame or a message. Yet here it leads to this analysis of the studio system and it is back-up by facts.It is rather descriptive and analytical than enflammatory.

It is pretty funny to see this film in 2020. I had already seen this once like 5 years ago, but even so things have changed dramatically since then. Not only does the documentary capture the late 60s, it is also a time capsule of the early 2000 when it was made; When all these filmmakers where at the top of the food-chain.

On that last note : the documentary comes right after the prequels but before the Disney buy-out. It may have been the last time anyone treated George Lucas as a genius, without having to justify it. Then the prequels back-lash happened, Then Disney bought Star Wars and drove it to the ground.

I don't really know if it's fair from me to mention Marcia Lucas. Since the documentary came out, and the prequels opened up the question : Did Lucas actually knew what he was doing ? A lot of people look at his ex-wife as the driving force behind the success of Star Wars. "Saved in the editing" as it was. This subject is absent form this movie. And it is okay. But since they approach these questions like where were they in their lives, where did they got the money etc... I feel it was an intersting sidenote: was she even there?

The documentary ends on the idea that American Zoetrope was the stable that led to Star Wars, Apocalypse Now and all those masterpeices. I get it, but it feels a bit forced. Sure the ideas, the spirit, the talent percolated here, but ultimately those films were good on merits of their own. Marcia Lucas and Richard Chew saved Star Wars in the editing room. Hearts of Darkness shows how Coppola created Apocalypse Now through the hardships and difficulties he faced in the Phillipines. But hey, maybe in some years I'll see this with yet another look.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 6 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

This FAQ is empty. Add the first question.






Release Date:

14 September 2004 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dziedzictwo kina: Wczesne lata American Zoetrope See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.78 : 1
See full technical specs »

Contribute to This Page

Recently Viewed