"Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" Is Released
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991) is an award-winning documentary about the making of the film Apocalypse Now.
The title is derived from the source material for Apocalypse Now, the Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness. Using behind the scenes footage, and narrated by Eleanor Coppola, it chronicles how production problems including bad weather, actors' health and other issues delayed the film, increasing costs and nearly destroying the life and career of Francis Ford Coppola. In 1990, Eleanor Coppola turned her material over to two young filmmakers George Hickenlooper and Fax Bahr who then shot new interviews with the original cast and crew and intercut them with her existing material. After a year of editing, Hickenlooper, Bahr, and Coppola debuted their film at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival to universal critical acclaim.
An intimate look at the making of Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 classic Apocalypse Now, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse combines the usual documentary interviews with outtakes from the film and rare documentary footage, some shot on the set by Eleanor Coppola. Not long after the arrival of Francis Ford Coppola and crew in the Philippines, the shooting schedule begins spiraling out of control; the film's cost has soon far surpassed the original budget, with the ending still unwritten. As the problems mount, from lead Martin Sheen's heart attack to the disappearance of several helicopters needed for a scene (because they went to fight in a nearby war), the making of the film begins to frighteningly resemble its subject -- an unending tale of madness and obsession in the jungle. The film provides a remarkably immediate look at the filmmaking process and the personalities involved, especially Coppola, who publicly acts the autocrat but privately proclaims his belief that he is making an awful film, and Marlon Brando, whose rambling, mumbled improvisations are among the documentary's highlights. Even more impressively, the documentary explores how, despite the chaotic environment, the filmmakers somehow managed to produce an acclaimed, lasting work of art. ~ Judd Blaise, All Movie Guide