“Youth Without Youth” is Francis Ford Coppola’s 2007 film. It stars Tim Roth as Dominic and Alexandra Maria Lara as Veronica.
POSSIBLE SPOILERS AHEAD!
The story surrounds Dominic, an old man who’s suddenly struck by lightning and as a result begins to become young again. He can read books just by touching them and seems to have powers/abilities that no other human has. As a result he begins to think of himself as ‘superhuman.’ The price of such knowledge? Dominic now has a somewhat sinister double or twin, which could easily just be his conscience manifested, however in the film it’s clear that Dominic sees this double as a mirror image of himself, and moreover the double can enter Dominic’s body or perform actions on its own.
Dominic is a linguistics professor, and many interesting languages were spoken in the film, including Egyptian, Sanskrit, Romanian, Mandarin, Latin and Babylonian. It’s Sanskrit which the ‘cursed’ Veronica speaks when she becomes Rupini. The film even introduces a new language, which was made up but was chosen so specifically that it’s worth noting.
Yes, one could say this movie surrounds a love story. Dominic knows love when he sees it. Yet it’s more so a tragedy. Despite his superhuman powers Dominic is still hunted down and attacked for information, while we witness the dropping of nuclear bombs and Hitler’s war in the headlines. Dominic is an intellectual romantic, but the world is not yet ready to embrace the love that permeates from his knowledge and understanding. Dominic almost ensures that he gets respect from others, but in the end he has to make sacrifices- he has to chose between love and his life’s work. He can somewhat predict the future, but he can’t control the present. (It’s also interesting to note that when Dominic is struck by lightning he becomes young, but when Veronica is struck she ages faster).
The most interesting aspect of the story is the ‘evil’ double. This double pushes Dominic to finish his life’s work. What if Dominic was dreaming all along and his getting struck by lightning was only a dream? What if the double in the dream was actually the ‘real’ Dominic who was sleeping? In the film, we see that his main worry is failure- not finishing his book. But he ends up sacrificing his work in order to restore Veronica’s health. Essentially Dominic failed both in life and in his dreams to complete his life’s work. So what does this say about the importance of intellect? Or rather, what does this say about life in general?
Overall, this was a lush film with beautiful scenery. Roth was extremely convincing as Dominic. And I can guarantee you’ve never seen a film like this before. The ending is heartbreaking.