Sofia Coppola Talks About Remaking The Brutal And Feminine ‘The Beguiled’

Remaking a movie can’t be easy. Before even shooting the first scene, a director knows their film will have to stand up to the comparison to a past work. A remake too close to its original might be called a ripoff, but one that strays too far could get an equal amount of criticism. Which is why director Sofia Coppola was hesitant to remake any story, but as she describes in the interview above, she knew she had to make an exception for her dark adaptation of The Beguiled.

The plot centers on an injured soldier who is taken in by a sheltered girls’ school during the Civil War, but instead of focusing on the male as in the original, Coppola found a new angle to explore by telling it from the female perspective. Being a woman — well, a white woman with money — in that place and time meant your life revolved around manners and etiquette even in the face of inherently savage and bloody wartime, which was a juxtaposition that Coppola enjoyed toying with while making the movie. Elle Fanning, one of the stars of The Beguiled, shares how Coppola instilled the importance of etiquette for a Southern girl in that era, although the nature of the tale slowly unravels all that. It may be a period piece, but Coppola sees the mystery of men and women to be a timeless story.

The Beguiled, for which Coppola earned the Best Director prize at Cannes, is in theaters now.