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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Hearts Of Darkness glosses over one of the more important aspects of
the film's creation, the hiring and firing of the first actor, Harvey
Keitel, to portray Lt. Willard. We are simply told it was not working,
and cut to Francis's hiring of Martin Sheen. But, we never see any of
the footage shot with Keitel, we never learn if he was simply too
different from Francis's vision of Willard to work, or was he simply
doing a poor job, a malcontent, or clashing too frequently with
Francis. For a so-called documentary to leave such wide open says much
of the aims of the documentarian, in this case Eleanor. Also left
open-ended is a much talked about aspect of the filming that the
documentary does not cover, and that is Francis's infidelity on the
set, and how that contributed to the distance between the couple. How
this affected Eleanor's documentary, much less Apocalypse Now, is
certainly ripe for discussion. This is the rare instance where such is
not mere gossip for gossip's sake, but pertinent information about the
director's state of mind in the improvisatory aspects of the film. Was
his film more gloomy because of the infidelity's consequences? Hearts
Of Darkness does a great disservice to its viewers by totally avoiding
such questions, even as it claims a rare intimacy, due to Eleanor's
claim to have surreptitiously recorded conversations without Francis's
Overall, the DVD package is barely worth an investment, especially if a Coppola fan, but once again the studio that put out the DVD could have offered so much more for so little an investment. Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse is a good and worthwhile 'Making Of' feature for a DVD release, but, as a stand alone documentary, it is rather lacking. Thus, with two making of documentaries, and no real feature, the package is saved by the aforementioned pluses alone. Better than nothing, but most viewers will wind up asking, 'Well, that's it?'
You make few major choices in life... things so basic they transcend
the ordinary obsessions about who we are and how we live. The basic
choices have to do with how we approach such issues, how we structure
the parts of the worlds we live in.
We have power over that, the world. You choose your world. Art is your best friend in this, both the potential art of yourself and certainly the art you choose to digest from others. And of these, both of these, cinema can have a place. For most of us, it must have a place. Indeed, for most of us, the grandest decisions we make about the world and ourselves are made without our knowledge through being seduced by what comes our way through movies.
But we do have a choice about this. Film has two main hemispheres in this regard and "Apocalypse" is a visit to the jungles of one.
What we have in Coppola is the tradition that the world revolves around people. People have lives, those lives move and in moving generate an electricity that powers the forces that surround us. More, the smell of us flavors those forces. Everything we know is the simple aggregation of these forces into grand rivers whose currents we can fight or surf. In cinema, this tradition is rooted in Italian artistic traditions, hence is represented by Italian Americans in Hollywood: Coppola, Scorsese and those that follow in their streams like Lucas. ("Star Wars" is simply "Godfather" with different sets.)
It can create powerful cinema, should you choose to relinquish your soul to it. That's because one strength of film is the ability to inflate a single actor with qualities that clarify this mechanism, that the world bends to humans, and human "motivations." Copolla's voyage, Kurtz's world, Brando's approach are what makes "Apocalypse" a sort of touchstone for this philosophy the absolute commitment to "discovery" with the tools of examining self.
The other hemisphere of film cosmology is noir, the notion that the viewer and filmmaker collectively spin a world with dynamics apart from the mere humans therein. These incidentally get toyed with. The camera examines the world, not the beings though naturally the drama of those beings is always the focus. Noir is uniquely cinematic and equally powerful.
"Apocalypse" is a war movie from the one hemisphere where Kubrick and Malick chose the other. "Apocalypse" is a "Heart of Darkness" personal voyage by a filmmaker who folds his life into the enterprise, while "Fitzcarraldo" of about the same time is the complement. If it comes to choices as it always must I choose Herzog, Malick, Kubruck and the others.
Now we have a better option. This documentary is a view from one hemisphere about a man, events and a film in the other. Coppola's wife, his other half, gives us this view of a man buffeted by accident, a man who believes in insight and control but has neither for his film about struggles with the same. One world folded into the other.
Apart from being a fascinating story, this documentary gives us exactly what we need, the balance of looking from one world into the evil snappings of the other. If you need a character, the wife is the fascinating one here. All the others kick at the world as if they can sculpt it. Look at her closely and appreciate the other half that actually bears children, in her a thin, patient mage.
And now we have two of the skinny kids she has suckled (and we see here) as full filmmakers in their own rights. And we are presented with choices all over again. I choose Roman.
Ted's Evaluation -- 3 of 3: Worth watching.
I'm still trying to understand what "making of" means. As a film
student I was expecting to grasp useful informations that could explain
to me why "Apocalypse Now" took so much time to be produced, why
Coppola tried to kill himself and so on. Unfortunately I can say it's
one of the most tedious making of I've ever watched, because all the
horror, the problems, the dreadful filming diary don't explain
anything, in the end I feel like the irresponsibility or Coppola own's
money took over so that many production problems would come up due to
Maybe I'm being harsh, but for me the documentary was pointless to watch, there are very few things you can take into account, I turned off my TV and thought Coppola speaks too much and says nothing on Hearts of Darkness, he's not being clear but redundant all the time.
If you are like me and want something more solid, go for "Lost in La Mancha" that tell us Terry Gilliam's nightmare, It's much better, interesting and rather sad.
After reading some reviews on Hearts of Darkness I was looking forward
to seeing total chaos unfolding behind the scenes of the production of
apocalypse now. I was somewhat disappointed to find out that the
supposed chaos that went on during the filming of apocalypse now was
greatly overstated. Its true that the film faced many setbacks and some
really bad luck but it wasn't as gripping a struggle as I was hoping
We get to see a lot of scenes with Coppola whining about things like the Filipino army taking the helicopters away from the production to fight a war, how he's disappointed in martin sheen for having a heart attack and being worried about the film going over budget, but overall the problems they faced didn't give me the feeling that the film was all that out of control. Coppola's raving about how he's going insane in the jungle just comes across as pretentious.
Hearing all the hype about this movie you'd think that the crew were living in shacks and eating bugs but in reality they were all living in expensive hotels and being pampered with catered food like any other big budget Hollywood production.
If you want to see a documentary about the making of a film that really has you scared for the sanity of the cast and crew I suggest watching either Empire of Dreams: the making of the star wars trilogy. (only for the making of star wars though, the rest of it is completely self serving) or Apocalypse soon: the making of citizen toxie. These documentaries do a much better job portraying the desperation a filmmaker can go through trying to complete their vision.
Even though i seem to be bashing the movie I would still recommend it. If you're a fan of Apocalypse Now you will definitely enjoy seeing what was going on behind the scenes.
When one sees Coppola saying what a disastrous movie he is making, or
sitting on the set and telling the actors (with absolute belief) that the
french plantation scene is not at all what he imagined and that it would
never never never find its way into the finished film...
One wonders at how MONEY changes a man's values. The lesson here is that you do not tamper with a thing after you've put it aside. EVER. Get on with the rest of your life Francis and leave your masterpieces alone. You only succeed in devaluating them for posterity.
The documentary film makers should go back and add two or three minutes on how, after a lackluster decade as a has-been film maker in the 90's, Coppola needed major studio backing for his up-coming MEGALOPOLIS, and so enthusiastically went back to pee on Apocalypse Now to curry favor.
I know that Apocalypse Now! has this great reputation and all--even though I
don't remember it being so great--but after viewing this documentary I was
left thinking of that famous anecdote from Marathon Man. Method actor Dustin
Hoffman went without sleep for days to prepare himself for being tortured by
Olivier's character--and when he told this to Olivier, the famous
Shakespearean actor is reported to have replied: "Why not try acting? Its
I do not think the end results of Apocalypse Now justifies the insane expenses and misery that apparently went into the making of it.
If anything, this film shows the crazy extravagances filmmakers will go to in order to make "art," and in this case the end certainly does not justify the means.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Every director should have a vision, but so should every dictator. Francis Ford Coppola must have worshiped Stalin at some point because his directing style in Apocalypse Now seems to indicate a predilection for ruling with an iron fist. Personally I've never thought much of Apocalypse Now, but respect it in that many good points and observations of human nature are made. Kurtz, being shown and introduced as almost god-like. Having complete control over his men who speak of him as if he was the second coming of Christ. Willard is somewhat of a curiosity. He mulls on about how he admires Kurtz and......this is so hard. I am completely indifferent to this movie. Most of the performances are unbelievable in that the actors always seem like they're acting. One only has to watch Dennis Hopper to realize that. " I...I..I wish I had the words man..", Hopper says of describing Kurtz, but what he really means is " Hey man...I cant think of anymore dialogue man". Marlon Brando so full of himself and self aware of the clout and power he has in the entertainment business that he just rambles on for days while Coppela is hoping enough of the footage will be usable or make enough sense that it can be used in the movie. Francis pushes all his actors like he is the plantation owner and they are the slaves. After seeing Hearts of Darkness I lost even more respect for this film. The continuing battles of Coppela's obsession with making his epic, Brando trying to prove that big stars have the power to do anything they want, and a bunch of actors that don't know what they are doing. Sure the film is nicely shot, but it couldn't be taken seriously. Apocalypse Now is a very funny movie, and perhaps that was all intended to end when Willard killed the woman on the boat showing that he is completely obsessed with getting up river to Kurtz, but then the laughs continue. Let us not forget Kilgore, the name alone is hilarious. Not a slight on Duvall but Kilgore comes across as more of a cartoon character than a real person. Perhaps intended, but it took me right out of the movie. Improvisational movie making is not my cup of tea. The real madman here is Coppola; he spent an unbelievable amount of time and money on a complete mess, and only through generous editing found some meaning in it. The original version of Apocalypse Now was somewhere around six hours....one can only wonder.
this is a fascinating documentary at times.it goes into all the problems there were with getting the movie Apocalypse Now finished.the film went over budget and over time and was beset by weather problems,as well as problems with government in the Philippines,where they were filming.as i was watching this documentary,i got the feeling that there was no way the movie Apocalypse now would be a movie i would want to see.based upon what was shown,i don't think the movie could have made much sense.as much as the documentary was fascinating,it didn't go into enough depth for me.there are also some disturbing images of animals being killed for a a local ritual,which i felt were much too graphic and unnecessary.i give Hearts of Darkness a 6/10
APOCALYPSE NOW is my favorite war film that tries to deal only with the
combatants. Coppola was one of the best directors of the seventies
(though I think Godfather is a bit overrated) That did not convince me
this was a good documentary.
There is so much potential here that is wasted. Take the famous helicopter attack, a scene filmed in the middle of an uprising against Marcos. While we do get the humorous scene of FFC complaining about a war taking priority over his movie, the treatment of the rebel situation is painfully slim. Was their uprising justifiable? Was Coppola potentially in the wrong by working with Marcos? What was the end result? That was not dealt with. It's a very suspicious omission, and seeing the whole story would have greatly enhanced the scenes power.
Another part that irritated me was the showing of the deleted scenes (the Bunnies and the French Plantation) These were very justifiably cut scenes which provide nothing but impatience, but they were restored for the REDUX. This convinced me that this is nothing more than a promotional piece.
I've never seen a "making-of" documentary that made me hate the film
involved more than this one. So self-important, so self-indulgent, so
pretentious. All these come to mind where "Hearts of Darkness" is
And to think--I used to like "Apocalypse Now."
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