Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)

R  |   |  Documentary  |  6 December 1991 (UK)
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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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Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 5 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Himself (as Francis Coppola)
Eleanor Coppola ...
Himself - from 1938 radio broadcast (voice) (archive footage)
Tom Sternberg ...
Himself (as Fred Forrest)
Himself (as Larry Fishburne)
Herself (as Gia)
Himself (as Roman)
Herself (as Sofia)
Dean Tavoularis ...
Fred Roos ...


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 <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


The magic and madness of making "Apocalypse Now"



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

6 December 1991 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Aux coeurs des ténèbres - l'apocalypse d'un metteur en scène  »

Box Office


$1,318,449 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Marlon Brando allegedly refused to be interviewed because he claimed Francis Ford Coppola still owed him $2 million. 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: If Marty dies, I wanna hear that everything's okay, until I say, "Marty is dead."
See more »


Referenced in Charlie Rose: Quentin Tarantino (1994) See more »


O Mimi, Tu Piu Non Torni
by Giacomo Puccini
See more »

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User Reviews

Blew Me Away.
24 April 2004 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

Never in my whole life have I ever watched a documentary that was so detailed down to every last thing and has been so influential and haunting at the same time. What Eleanor Coppola did was make a documentary that showed filmmakers not what to and how to solve the things that go wrong and also not to jump into something without realising it's outcome. What she also did was collect moments on the set and off of the greatest film ever made.

I have always made that known when reviewing a lot of films on IMDB how much this film means to me and when you watch Heart of Darkness without flickering an eyelid you kind of find out why. At the beginning of the documentary you see Francis ford Coppola talking about Apocalypse Now at a press conference and he says the famous line `The film wasn't about Vietnam, it was Vietnam' and after hearing it you are thinking what the hell is this guy on about and then you watch it and you think to yourself `Oh he was probably right bless him' because no one apart from the cast and crew knew what he really meant. Then you watch the documentary and you eat your words because we see how much pressure he was under and Brando and Martin Sheen's heart attack didn't help but he pulls through. It was like he made a pack with the devil for his film to be an absolute nightmare to make but for the final outcome to become a glorified Masterpiece which is what it is.

To see what had happened when filming stopped in the jungle with the tribe and the footage of the cow's and pigs being slaughtered to death was extraordinary and disturbing that this really happens. In the scene where the cow or bull (I don't know) gets hacked into pieces is well known for being real but it was well constructed before Francis said `action' but on the documentary you see a number of men just go up to the animal and do what they have to do. It' really sinks in when looking at that part what kind of film Apocalypse Now is. I would have liked to have seen a bit more of Brando but I think it's good that we don't because it just like the film in that respect that even in a documentary he continues to be secluded from the rest and kept in the dark. Francis Ford Coppola was wasted after making Apocalypse now. Never will Hollywood not even Peter Jackson ever see a director like Francis because films like Apocalypse Now will probably never be made again because of the financial side of the business but Coppola was beyond a director, he was a master that had no hold on itself and without his belief and madness we wouldn't be blessed with this outstanding film. It's not a point that I am making it's a fact and it destroys me to think there is nobody challenging the ways he did anymore, but in a way I like it like that.

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