The Conversation

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola, 1974


What does the film tell us about sound technology? How is the treatment of sounds different from the treatment of images? How do we interpret what we hear, and is this different from the way in which we interpret what we see?

Consider the film's themes of surveillance and paranoia. Who is listening? Who is in control? What is the role of the corporation that employs Harry, and whose offices he visits at several points in the course of the film?

What drives Harry Caul? How would you describe his personality? What are his relationships with other people like? Consider his obsessive need for privacy, his professional ethics, his sense of guilt, his childhood memories, his religious convictions, his love of jazz.

What actually happens in that room at the Jack Tar Hotel? Is Harry a reliable witness? Do we accept the objectivity of what we see (in brief glimpses) on screen, or do we read this as Harry's subjective fantasy?