ROME (AP) – It is Francis Ford Coppola’s first movie in a decade, and the Oscar-winning director said Saturday that audiences should be in no hurry before deciding if “Youth Without Youth” is good or bad.

“Youth Without Youth” is Coppola’s first movie since “The Rainmaker” in 1997. It was having its public premiere Saturday evening at the Rome Film Festival.

At an earlier screening for the media, reactions were mixed, and Coppola asked people to see it more than once.

“When you venture into new territories … you know that it’s different than ‘Spider-Man’ or ‘Shrek’ or other films that are immediately met with success.

So, part of being an artist who wants to look at new areas (is knowing that) it will take a while for people to be familiar with the film,” he said. “I only ask you to think that my film was interesting.”

“Youth Without Youth” tells a metaphysical story about a 70-year-old Romanian professor of linguistics (played by Tim Roth) who miraculously becomes younger after being struck by lightning.

The accident gives him abnormal intellectual abilities which attract the attention of the Nazis as World War II looms.

Turned into a fugitive, he is also tormented by dreams of his lost love.

The film, shot in Romania, is adapted from a novella by the Romanian philosopher-author Mircea Eliade.

In other comments, Coppola sought to play down critical remarks he was quoted making about Al Pacino, Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson in a recent magazine interview.

In the November issue of GQ magazine, Coppola was quoted as saying that the three

Oscar-winning actors have become apathetic and lost their passion for taking on good roles.

He also called De Niro “wealthy and powerful” – and more ambitious than Nicholson.

“I think if there was a role that De Niro was hungry for, he would come after it. I don’t think Jack would,” he was quoted as saying. “Jack has money and influence and girls, and I think he’s a little bit like (Marlon) Brando, except Brando went through some tough times.”

On Saturday, Coppola said his comments were taken out of context.

“I was astonished because it wasn’t true, and I have nothing but respect and admiration” for Pacino, De Niro and Nicholson, Coppola said.

“These are the three greatest actors in the world today and they are my friends. So I have nothing but affection for them.”

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