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

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 6 wins & 5 nominations. See more awards »

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During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Francis Ford Coppola ... Himself (as Francis Coppola)
Eleanor Coppola ... Herself
Orson Welles ... Himself - from 1938 radio broadcast (voice) (archive footage)
John Milius ... Himself
George Lucas ... Himself
Tom Sternberg Tom Sternberg ... Himself
Sam Bottoms ... Himself
Albert Hall ... Himself
Frederic Forrest ... Himself (as Fred Forrest)
Laurence Fishburne ... Himself (as Larry Fishburne)
Gian-Carlo Coppola Gian-Carlo Coppola ... Himself (archive footage) (as Gio)
Roman Coppola ... Himself (archive footage) (as Roman)
Sofia Coppola ... Herself (archive footage) (as Sofia)
Dean Tavoularis Dean Tavoularis ... Himself
Fred Roos ... Himself
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Storyline

Documents the sensational events surrounding the making of Apocalypse Now (1979)' and Francis Ford Coppola's struggle with nature, governments, actors, and self-doubt. Includes footage and sound secretly recorded by Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis. Written by Murray Chapman <muzzle@cs.uq.oz.au>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis

Taglines:

The magic and madness of making "Apocalypse Now"

Genres:

Documentary

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

6 December 1991 (UK) See more »

Also Known As:

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

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Box Office

Gross USA:

$1,318,449
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

American Zoetrope See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Stereo

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Included among the "1001 Movies You Must See Before You Die", edited by Steven Schneider. See more »

Goofs

In the end credits for musical listings under the Doors song The End, Elektra (Records) is misspelled (as "Electra.") See more »

Quotes

Francis Ford Coppola: First of all, I call this whole movie the Idiodyssey. None of my tools, none of my tricks, none of my ways of doing things works for this ending. I have tried so many times that I know I can't do it. It might be a big victory to know that I can't do it. I can't write the ending to this movie.
See more »

Connections

References The Godfather: Part II (1974) See more »

Soundtracks

Anything Goes
by Cole Porter
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User Reviews

Travel deep inside the mind of Coppola & the craft of filmmaking
18 April 2001 | by JawsOfJoshSee all my reviews

How lucky can a master filmmaker get when the tide is against you smacking you & your new movie deliberately in the face? Legendary director Francis Ford Coppola certainly knows. This documentary, probably one of the most fascinating & insightful examinations into the craft of filmmaking and the creation of art, chronicles Coppola's three year odyssey filming the surreal Vietnam War epic "Apocalypse Now". Directed & narrated by his wife Eleanor, who accompanied her husband throughout the entire shooting of the film, this is THE most splendid "making-of" documentary I've ever seen. The finished version of "Apocalypse Now" that we've come to know is a strange, mystical journey - which probably evolved out of Coppola's own bizarre experiences while making the film.

Most of these strange occurrences on the set of "Apocalypse Now" served to hinder the completion of the film. The fact that such a brilliant film was even salvaged from the wreckage that was Coppola's life at the time is a miracle, but the film also serves as a testament to the genius of Coppola that was already established with the massive success of the first two "Godfather" films. Plagued by constant typhoons, a mercurial Marlon Brando, an unreliable Phillipine army, a cast of actors whacked out on drugs & alcohol (especially the maniacal Dennis Hopper), endless financial woes, and Coppola's own self-doubt & inner demons ("I don't have the movie yet!"), there is no surprise in the eventual photo shown of an exhausted Coppola standing on the set of his film in a damp raincoat, pointing a revolver at his own head. This may be an experience other directors have experienced (many David Lean films were logistical nightmares), but how many directors can testify to enduring these types of repeated misadventures for three years, and still manage to find the light at the end of the tunnel?

The entire cast is interviewed (years afterward) about the making of the film - except, of course, for Marlon Brando (Larry Fishburne doesn't get much screen time in the documentary, but his character was relatively small anyway). Martin Sheen, Dennis Hopper, and Frederic Forrest provide the most insight. Sheen & Hopper seem particularly direct at disclosing the grim nature of their excessive drinking at the time. Actors Robert Duvall, Sam Bottoms, Albert Hall, co-screenwriter John Milius, and the Coppolas themselves also reflect back on the construction of the film. The film is loaded with deleted scenes, extended takes, and much behind-the-scenes footage (Coppola angrily berates a stoned Dennis Hopper for forgetting his lines). Eleanor Coppola must really love her husband, because it takes a strong person to document - on film, nonetheless - three years worth of strife & turmoil as you watch your spouse in their craft, fearful they are creating the genesis of their own demise as an artist. A powerful, absorbing documentary on the creation of one of the greatest films ever made.


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