Sofia Coppola transforms 70's pulp in 'The Beguiled'

Oscar-winner Sofia Coppola made history last month with her film "The Beguiled." She is only the second woman in the Cannes Film Festival's 70-year history to take home the prize for best director. Fresh off her momentous win, the acclaimed writer-director dropped by Build Series, with star Kirsten Dunst, to talk about remaking a pulpy Clint Eastwood star-vehicle into a modern, female-focused thriller.

The film is set in Virginia during the Civil War, where only five students remain at the Farnsworth Seminary for Young Ladies. When a wounded Union soldier (Colin Farrell) is discovered in the woods, his presence at their cloistered school threatens to turn their lives upside down. Miss Martha — played by the incomparable Nicole Kidman — dresses his wounds, and allows him to stay until he's well enough to surrender himself to the Confederacy. But Corporal McBurney (Farrell) has a different plan.

Passions, and rivalries, are ignited by McBurney, as the women compete for his favor. McBurney tries to gain his freedom by manipulating the women. "We have girls of different ages, from 12 to women in their 40's," says Coppola. "He has to figure out how to play each one by what they need."

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Sofia Coppola & Kirsten Dunst at Build Series
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Sofia Coppola & Kirsten Dunst at Build Series
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Sofia Coppola and Kirsten Dunst visit Build Studio to discuss 'The Beguiled' at Build Studio on June 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Kirsten Dunst and Sofia Coppola visit build Studios to discuss their new movie 'The Beguiled' at Build Studio on June 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Sofia Coppola visits Build Studio to discuss 'The Beguiled' at Build Studio on June 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Kirsten Dunst visits Build Studio to discuss 'The Beguiled' at Build Studio on June 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Steve Mack/FilmMagic)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Actress Kristen Dunst (L) and director Sofia Coppola attend the Build Series to discuss the film 'The Beguiled' at Build Studio on June 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Director Sofia Coppola attends the Build Series to discuss the film 'The Beguiled' at Build Studio on June 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - JUNE 21: Actress Kirsten Dunst attends the Build Series to discuss the film 'The Beguiled' at Build Studio on June 21, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Gary Gershoff/WireImage)
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Kirsten Dunst plays tightly-wound school teacher Edwina. "She's very different from me," reveals Dunst. "My dimple doesn't even come out in this movie."

Desire rages against the repressive customs of the antebellum South. "For the roles of women at the time, there were a lot of ideas," says Coppola, "which we can still feel [today], but then, it was in a really extreme way." Perhaps Dunst's character struggles most against the culture. "A lot of things are happening for Edwina," says Dunst, "but she is very reserved and doesn't say them."

Coppola's "Beguiled" is a far cry from the 1971 original. "Clint Eastwood's kissing a six year old within the second scene," laughed Dunst, "so I knew that Sofia would have a very different take, but I also knew why she was attracted to all these women together."

"It's fun to watch, but it's a totally different thing," explains Coppola of the original, "and the women are crazy and deranged. I tried to make them human and relatable."

"The Beguiled" is now playing in select cities, and opens in wide release June 30th.

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