Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse
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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

I like it

Author: Bert-back-a-rat Bert from New Zealand
3 January 2007

I liked it. The realities of film making. The goal he was driven to. Great documentary. Content as always wins again. Grainy as hell but adds to feel and the spontaneity. Interesting facts & inside info on making of film. His comments at re that in the future, filmmakers will be able to make a film without all this paraphernalia....yeah alright! Bring out those DVD cams! There are so many 'promo docos' now on the making of films...this is a real filmmakers look into the art of and the depth/trial and tribulations of making. The wild cards that get thrown at u-the storm-the opinions that try to change a vision. People & money what a combo.

OK so I'll watch it again because I liked it. You might too. No harm in checking it out. I found looking back at the technology used is so different from now. Maybe we will see the director & filmmaker approach creating his films in a different way.

The script/ideas are of course the hero. Without a great story u have eye candy. This is well worth the 'effort' to sit down and check it out and watch a great film maker & his wife making a true vision being burn't onto celluloid.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Watch Marlon Brando improvise his lines...and eat a bug.

Author: Alex Moeller (kubric2001@aol.com) from Iowa City
5 September 1998

This is a riveting behind-the-scenes look at the making of Francis Ford Coppala's masterpiece, APOCALYPSE NOW. This documentary combines interviews with footage shot on location in the Philippines by Eleanor Coppola. This is certainly a must-see for anyone with the slightest interest in how Hollywood movies are made. This is a unique and privileged look inside one of the greatest films ever made.

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3 out of 5 people found the following review useful:


Author: jtfsouth from St. Louis, Mo
16 June 2001

Never thought the making of a movie would be so in line with the story it portrayed. I am surprised the damn thing was ever made with as many problems it had.

I thought they did a great job of explaining of how Orson Wells originally wanted to make the movie but it was eventually thrown out.

The movie is pretty much in tune with how the U.S. military works. As chaotic as it may seem from an outside point of view, when it all comes down to it, everything seems to work itself out.

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4 out of 7 people found the following review useful:

Some minor flaws but overall a very good documentary

Author: bob the moo from United Kingdom
27 July 2002

While her husband made Apocalypse Now, Eleanor Coppola shot documentary footage recording the shoot. Years later this is put together with recent interviews and old footage to create this documentary recalling the disasters and accidents that followed this marathon production.

A must for any Apocalypse fan or even any film fan, this documentary is fascinating and is a mould for other documentaries. The footage covers everything from the fact that the military kept taking their helicopters back, the storms destroying all the sets, the star being replaced, the star then having a breakdown and Brando turning up overweight and refusing to play a fat character and didn't even read the book.

This is fascinating stuff – even if much of it is common knowledge for anyone who knows a little about the film itself. However it does have flaws. Mainly Eleanor Coppola! Her narration is dull and lifeless and she seems a little too distracted by issues away from the film – it was the same with her book, she went off o discuss how hard to was to buy Sophia shoes etc. Outside of her it's actually very good – most of the cast have come back for interviews and most of the information is really insightful and interesting.

My main complaint here is the issue of Redux. In the famous plantation scene we see Coppola shoot it but then tell everyone he's not happy with any aspect of it and that they should all forget it was ever made. Yet over 20 years later he's suddenly happy with it!? This documentary highlights many areas that Coppola wasn't happy with but yet he has stuck them into his redux version. I would like a redux documentary that explains why bits had suddenly become good were before they were so bad that everyone should just forget them?

Overall this is well worth a look. While many documentary `featurettes' on DVD's etc are thrown together with little thought or care, it's nice to see one that is really good and worth seeing as a film in it's own right.

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The Sympathizer (by Viet Thanh Nguyen) is the antidote to Apocalypse Now

Author: Parker Lewis from United States
6 November 2016

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Francis Ford Coppola is a distinguished director and a man of letters, and I'd be interested to see if The Sympathizer, the Pulitzer Prize winning book by Viet Thanh Nguyen, features prominently on his bookshelf. The book, published in 2015, was a reposte to Apocalypse Now, which in itself is an impressive movie in many respects.

Anyone who said that history is written by the victors has never watched Apocalypse Now or any other movie in the "Vietnam" genre from our great shores. Funny that no WWI movies pumped out from the USA are called "Germany" movies.

I like watching behind-the-scenes documentaries of movies, and Hearts of Darkness is one of the best. We empathize with Francis Ford Coppola on his enduring attempt to bring his vision to screen. He said at a press conference (featured at the beginning of the documentary) that "Apocalypse Now is Vietnam". That's kind of an insult to the millions of Vietnamese who suffered at the hands of the Americans in the War.

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A Film About War, A War Over Film

Author: gavin6942 from United States
29 September 2016

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.

While it may be blasphemy to say so, I have never been a big fan of "Apocalypse Now". Despite the wide range of talent involved, it just never hit home for me. But even so, I completely appreciate that this documentary was made, because I can't imagine many movies run into so many problems and still end up being successful.

There are some what-ifs, such as what if Harvey Keitel had stayed on in the role filled by Martin Sheen. I presume footage exists of the day or two he had filmed. What would it have done for Keitel, or the film? Certainly this is one of Sheen's best roles.

I love the footage of Dennis Hopper, both on set and later. He was a larger than life guy, and it's great to hear him reflect in two different time periods. The same for Larry Fishburne, who was a child when production started. His view of war as "fun" shifts as he ages, and that's an interesting transition.

A prophetic comment by Coppola is that he sees film at some point becoming less a profession and more an art. I am curious how he would reflect on that today (2016). While he is certainly right that independent film really took off in the 1990s, has it achieved what he wanted? And what of the ability now for movies to be made for pennies? Does this degrade the art form?

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epic film production

Author: SnoopyStyle
5 July 2016

In 1976 Philippines, Francis Ford Coppola would risk everything to make 'Apocalypse Now'. It's an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's 'Heart of Darkness' to the world of the Vietnam War. The budget explodes and principal photography gets extended to 238 days. His wife Eleanor joins him filming the behind the scenes. Coppola replaces his lead Harvey Keitel. The military's help would often be diverted to fight the rebels. Martin Sheen has a heart attack. The big French section is unworkable. A typhoon destroys the production. It is absolute madness as the production becomes its own Vietnam. This is definitely not a standard production. It is a compelling watch for any film lover. It is one of the best behind-the-scenes film and should be seen as a companion piece to Apocalypse Now.

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Excellent Look at Non-Stop Trouble

Author: Michael_Elliott from Louisville, KY
25 January 2016

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

**** (out of 4)

Excellent documentary about the madness that Francis Ford Coppola put himself through trying to make the epic APOCALYPSE NOW.

It turns out that Coppola's wife was shooting during the entire production of the movie so directors Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper took this footage, added new interviews with the cast and crew and turned it into a terrific example of what lengths certain people will go to in order to reach what vision they have. I think the film falls a tad bit short of BURDEN OF DREAMS but there's no question that this film is quite addicting.

I think the greatest thing about this movie is that it gives you a great idea of what it takes in order to get what you want. Throughout the shooting of the film we see Coppola slowly losing his mind as all sorts of production troubles happen. There are typhoons, a war where the helicopters he's paying for are needed for battle, Martin Sheen has a heart attack and then there's Marlon Brando getting paid a million a week but refusing to shoot anything until he understands his character.

It's fascinating to see the effect all of this has on Coppola and how he eventually begins to crack. My only complaint on the film is that it didn't run longer because I would have sat through another hour or so worth of material. The film also benefits from the terrific behind-the-scenes footage and especially the stuff with Brando. I've never been overly thrilled with the ending to APOCALYPSE NOW but after watching this it all makes sense.

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Outstanding documentary on the making of the hallowed "Apocalypse Now"

Author: Wuchak from Ohio/PA border
18 January 2016

Released in 1991, "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" chronicles the make of 1979's "Apocalypse Now," combining footage shot by Eleanor Coppola during the shooting of the film with more recent interviews with the cast & crew.

Documentaries or commentaries on how a particular film was made don't interest me because I'm not a filmmaker and only care about the final product. As a writer and former musician I'm familiar with the creative process and understand how some ideas fail to deliver the goods and must be thrown out, etc. As an example, I heard some demos of a couple of my favorite songs and they were lousy compared to the final product and almost ruined my view of those songs. This explains why I'm generally not interested in the harrowing details of how my favorite movies were made and the parts that were thrown out, etc. This documentary is an exception because (1.) "Apocalypse Now" is my all-time favorite movie (the original theatrical version, that is) and (2.) the documentary is just so well-done. In fact, it's fascinating from beginning to end.

"Hearts of Darkness" shows the monumental problems Coppola and crew encountered in making the movie: The sudden firing of their leading man (Harvey Keitel) after three weeks of shooting and replacing him with Martin Sheen; the delays in filming due to the Philippine Army taking back their rented helicopters to quell an uprising; a hurricane that ruins the sets; Sheen having a heart attack at only 36 years of age and the corresponding delay; overweight Brando arriving to the set totally unprepared and making $1 million a week with an unwritten, improvised ending; the amusing tiger incident; Francis venting in genuine uncertainty at various stages of the creative process, particularly the entire ending; etc.

The interviews with cast and crew are also very informative and entertaining, like Frederic Forrest's commentary on the tiger sequence and John Milius' insights on his original screenplay and his encounter with Francis during filming where the latter convinced him that it'd be "the first film to win the Nobel prize."

This documentary came out ten years before the "Redux" version of the film was released and, as such, it was the public's first glimpse of various scenes that ended up on the cutting room floor, like the French Plantation sequence and the typhoon-with-the-bunnies sequence. In my opinion, "Redux" is a failure and those scenes should've never been inserted into the movie as very little of the added footage works, but those sequences ARE interesting as deleted scenes or viewing them (in part) in the context of "Hearts of Darkness."

For some good laughs, be sure to check out the spoof of this documentary: "Hearts of Hot Shots Part Deux: A Filmmaker's Apology," which was released in 1993 and is available on Youtube in a couple parts.

The film runs 96 minutes.


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A Must Supplement For Everyone Who Has Seen Apocalypse Now

Author: CinemaClown
6 July 2015

Almost as powerfully haunting, profoundly disturbing & incredibly harrowing an experience as the motion picture whose troubled production it brings to life on the silver screen, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse validates the claim that notable director Francis Ford Coppola made about his 1979 feature, that his film wasn't about Vietnam... it was Vietnam.

Deriving its name from Joseph Conrad's novella on which Apocalypse Now is based upon, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse covers the behind-the-scenes production work of Coppola's final masterpiece, chronicles the countless problems the project kept running into, and also captures the extremity its entire cast & crew were pushed to during its filming in the Philippines.

Co-directed by George Hickenlooper & Fax Bahr, who used the footage that was filmed & later provided to them by Coppola's wife, Eleanor, this documentary is highly gripping from the first frame to the last and while it's not an easy sit, it's too difficult to take your eyes off the screen because it all looks so surreal. Everyone knew on paper about the troubles Apocalypse Now was going through yet it's through the Hearts of Darkness that we get our first look at just how nightmarish everything actually was.

Brilliantly narrated by Eleanor Coppola, Hearts of Darkness opens with Francis Ford Coppola uttering the now iconic quotes about his harrowing experience of shooting his picture during its premiere at 1979 Cannes Film Festival, which is then followed by the depiction of each n every encountered problem, starting with the replacement of the lead actor within days into principal photography and concluding with Coppola arriving at the feature's premiere, where it is quite evident that he's not the same person anymore.

It's actually upsetting to see the visionary filmmaker who had two of the greatest films ever made to his name reduced to a person who was contemplating suicide. Apocalypse Now hit Coppola the hardest for it planted the seed of self-doubt in his mind, drove him to the point of insanity, and with all the costly sets getting destroyed due to bad weather, actor's health issues, the continuously inflating budget & other things, it's no surprise that it eventually took such a toll on him that he still hasn't fully recovered from it.

It's a soul-crushing moment when a clear ambition is marred by aggravating circumstances which is what happened in that film's case as Coppola himself got the first-hand experience of what he intended to capture with his picture; a descent into primal madness. But what eventually came out from the abyss is a cinema that has horror written all over it and while it can be disputed, it's difficult to imagine that Apocalypse Now would've been the same film if everything that did go wrong during its production hadn't actually gone wrong.

Hearts of Darkness is methodically paced from start to finish and there's a very natural flow to how all the events unfold on the screen. Coppola's weight fluctuations, Martin Sheen's drunk acting, his heart attack, weather playing spoilsport, government not fully cooperating, production running over budget & over schedule, Coppola having no proper ending in sight, Marlon Brando bringing an all new sets of problems, all this & other interviews are infused into this documentary in a manner that makes it an enlightening, entertaining & informative experience.

On an overall scale, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse is regarded by many as the finest documentary ever made and of all the documentaries that I've seen so far, it's the best. It has the same vibe of the deranged classic whose highly frustrating production it chronicles, is tightly structured & cleverly paced throughout its runtime which makes its content all the more engaging & intriguing, and is absolutely unflinching in shedding light on the life-changing impact it had on several members of its cast n crew, most notably Francis Ford Coppola. A must supplement for everyone who's seen Apocalypse Now, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse comes strongly recommended.

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