Documentary that chronicles how Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) was plagued by extraordinary script, shooting, budget, and casting problems--nearly destroying the life and career of the celebrated director.
Francis Ford Coppola was fond of saying 'Apocalypse Now' was "not about the Vietnam War; it was the Vietnam War", and this long overdue chronicle of the film's troubled production certainly proves his point. Using behind-the-scenes 16mm footage shot by Coppola's wife, Eleanor, and borrowing several passages from her published diaries, the documentary traces how what began as a modest wartime action movie (with nods to Joseph Conrad) would emerge, after several years, several tens of millions of dollars, and more than one physical and mental breakdown, as a brilliant, bloated, visionary epic. The production itself was often a living illustration of Murphy's Law: what could go wrong did go wrong, including a civil war, a devastating typhoon, a near-fatal heart attack suffered by actor Martin Sheen, and the appearance on the set of an unprepared, overweight Marlon Brando to play the emaciated Colonel Kurtz. Among the many revealing moments is Martin Sheen's drunken breakdown on camera (included in Coppola's finished film), and snippets of the fascinating, discreet audiotapes showing the director near the end of his wits. Invaluable hindsight is provided by cast and crew, including Coppola himself, who was never quite able to recover professionally from the experience.
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