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.
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Francis Ford Coppola,
Documents the sensational events surrounding the making of 'Apocalypse Now' and Francis Ford Coppola's struggle with nature, governments, actors, and self-doubt. Includes footage and sound secretly recorded by Elanor Coppola, wife of Francis. Written by
Murray Chapman <email@example.com>
Fragments of Orson Welles' radio broadcast of "Hearts of Darkness" are used as a narrative device of the documentary. See more »
In the end credits for musical listings under the Doors song The End, Elektra (Records) is misspelled (as "Electra.") See more »
Francis Ford Coppola:
I'm sure I have missed a whole bunch of opportunities and I am going to miss others, but I caught a lot of them too. In the end it's about how many I catch, not how many I lose.
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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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