1974’s abrupt end to the presidency of Richard Nixon was an example of an espionage debacle. Somewhere along the way, through the mazes of private investigators involved in political slander, the whole gambit was found out. This experience right in American’s first front yard brought forth the notions of an inescapable, all-seeing network of surveillance that watched all, and the only thing safeguard from it was the length of a secretary’s arm. Somehow, the same year that the prolific The Godfather Part II was released under the direction of Francis Coppola, a completely unrelated film was released, also directed by Coppola. Written and shot long before Watergate entered public consciousness, The Conversation somehow managed to evoke all of the fears and anxieties over mass surveillance, before it was relevant to even visit the topic.
The Conversation isn’t action-packed, there’s not many points where you get excited. The whole film is a brief look into the life of a shut-in surveillance, while he obsesses over a single conversation, the conversation that occurs at the beginning of the film. A distinctly and purposefully flamboyant Harrison Ford makes an appearance, Gene Hackman continually falls back onto his Catholic faith for reassurance when nobody is there, and the same conversation from the beginning endlessly repeats throughout the movie. Somehow, these long, recurring, silent sequences build suspense. By the middle of the movie you’re already wondering what to do next, helped by the many claustrophobic and lonely scenes. Finally, at the end of the uncomfortable journey, and without spoiling anything, the symbolism is unmistakable.
Put on your headphones, dial your Collegiate Lenses to the right frequency, and obsess about The Conversation with our drinking game.
The Conversation Drinking Game Rules:
Take a drink…
- Every time an excerpt of the original conversation is shown or played
- Whenever Harry Caul has a distincly Catholic experience
- If Harry is obscured to the viewer with some kind of translucent set-piece
- When Bernie asks how Harry did it, or to enter into a partnership
- Whenever Harry plays the saxophone
Take this list as a suggestion, and drink responsibly. As always, enjoy the show.