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Hearts of Darkness - A Filmmaker's Apocalypse
Hearts of Darkness - A Filmmaker's Apocalypse
Actor: Francis Ford Coppola
Genres: Documentary
R     2007     1hr 36min

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker?s Apocalypse is an engrossing, unwavering look back at Francis Ford Coppola?s chaotic, catastrophe-plagued Vietnam production, Apocalypse Now. Filled with juicy gossip and a wonderful behind...  more »


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Movie Details

Actor: Francis Ford Coppola
Genres: Documentary
Sub-Genres: Film History & Film Making
Studio: Paramount
Format: DVD
DVD Release Date: 11/20/2007
Original Release Date: 11/27/1991
Theatrical Release Date: 11/27/1991
Release Year: 2007
Run Time: 1hr 36min
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 18
MPAA Rating: R (Restricted)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French

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Movie Reviews

A stirring portrait of the making of a masterpiece
Linda Linguvic | New York City | 01/03/2002
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Subtitled, "A Filmmaker's Apocalypse", this 1991 film is a documentary about the making of "Apocalypse Now", the 1979 film based on Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness". Set in Vietnam, it is the story of a captain, Martin Sheen, and his crew's mission to find and kill an insane colonel, Marlon Brando, who had created his own kingdom deep in the Jungle. On the way, everyone is touched with the evil around them. This summer I saw the re-edited version of the film and have been intrigued by it ever since. When I heard about this "Hearts of Darkness" I just HAD to see it.The filming of Apocalypse Now was supposed to take just sixteen weeks at a budget of $13 million. It wound up costing more than $30 million, much of it put up by Francis Coppola himself, and took almost three years to get to the public. Coppola' wife Eleanor and their three children went along on location in the Philippines. She was interested in making a documentary and shot a lot of behind-the-scenes footage, even secretly recording private conversations she had with her husband about the film. The authenticity of the experience really comes through, as everyone involved with the production seemed to go a little bit insane.Coppola had serious doubts throughout and we hear his words of despair as he thinks he's making a bad movie. We see the terrible typhoon that destroyed all the sets and realized that the helicopters that were being used for the shooting were actually property of the Philippine government who kept calling them away to fight a real disturbance that was going on just ten miles away. We see shots and scenes that never made it into the original film (although much of it eventually made it into the 2001 "Redux" version). We see and overweight Marlon Brando who insisted on being filmed in shadows. And we are right there to watch the filming of the scene in which Martin Sheehan has a mental breakdown. In order to do this he became bleary-eyed drunk, cut his thumb on a mirror and used the blood as part of the scene. The intensity is chilling and when, a short time afterward, he has a life-threatening heart attack at the age of 36, we're all there to see him as he is given first aid.Now, years later, some of the actors are interviewed about their experiences. We learn that they did a lot of drugs during many of the scenes - acid, speed, marijuana, alcohol, which certainly added to the authenticity as well as the craziness of the whole production. Robert Duval talks about how his famous line "I love the smell of napalm in the morning was improvised. And the whole cast talks about how they improvised a massacre scene. Laurence Fishburne was only 14 when the film was made, a real coming-of-age experience for him. But this very stirring film portrait belongs to Francis Coppola. We get to meet him as a very imperfect human being doing his best to create an art form out of the script, changing it constantly as he went along, and eventually turning out a small masterpiece which went on to be nominated for eight academy awards.I give this video my highest recommendation. It is a "must" for movie buffs. And an essential education for anyone involved in filmmaking itself. Don't miss it!"
Someone Please Release This On DVD!
J. Merritt | 08/19/2006
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Why this fascinating documentary is not in print I don't know, but it's a major shame. Taking us inside the making of Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece "Apocalypse Now," it mixes interviews with the principals (including Coppola, his star Martin Sheen, and others) with footage shot by Coppola's wife during the actual production. As the shooting dragged on and the budget skyrocketed and Coppola dealt with everything from Third World leaders to heart attacks to nervous studio heads, a drama unfolded that was every bit as captivating as the one he was trying to capture on film. An indispensable look at movie-making in the Decade of the Director, and worth half a dozen Masters courses in film. Plus, just plain fun to watch."
Wonderful Documentary Is Even Better than the Actual Movie
Weston J. Kathman | Lakeside Park, KY USA | 06/02/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Shot by Francis Ford Coppolla's wife, Hearts of Darkness is an incredible, one hour fifty minute documentary that reveals the horrors of making the very popular Apocalypse Now. The film took forever to make, driving many of its participants to the brink of insanity, not just Coppolla, who was emotionally-unstable for much of the film. Viewers of this fascinating documentary will be amazed to learn that Harvey Keitel was originally cast as Willard, but was dropped after only two weeks of shooting. Though only 36 years-old, Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack during filming, an event that further postponed its debuts in theaters. There is some really great footage included here, especially the shooting of the opening sequence of the film which involves a very drunk Sheen lashing out as both his character and himself (at that point, Sheen was experiencing a lot of hostility towards Coppolla and had it out with him right then and there, an episode that would appear in the finished movie). Even if you didn't particularly care for Apocalypse Now, you will most likely find Hearts of Darkness interesting, nonetheless. It is a magnificent look at the troubles and triumphs of a film crew headed by a somewhat mad, but brilliant director. This shouldn't be missed."
Get this to see a great documentary (shown without cuts) not
The Rocketman | Los Angeles, CA | 11/24/2007
(5 out of 5 stars)

"HEARTS OF DARKNESS is one of the few documentaries on film making where you get to see a true artistic process. After watching this, you will find nearly all "Making of..." pieces found on DVDs for what they really are: marketing fluff. As a result, I eagerly watched HEARTS OF DARKNESS on DVD after last seeing it more than 10 years ago. I was very nervous that Coppola would be releasing a butchered form of the documentary. After all, he bares his soul in a way that few real artists do in public -- the picture of him holding a gun to his head (and not all in fun) is pretty intense stuff.

I am happy to report that the whole film is here, there doesn't appear to any cuts and the run time (96 minutes) matches that of the official times listed on the Internet. Thank you, Francis!

Now to the DVD extra, an hour-long documentary called CODA: THIRTY YEARS LATER. It's this new documentary (40% of the total DVD content!) which explains why Coppola is finally re-releasing HOD. The title "CODA" it misleading (especially in this context) because CODA has nothing to do with Apocalypse Now. Rather it is a documentary on Coppola's newest film YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH. Perhaps because YWY looks to be an essential parlor piece with lots of dialog, CODA is, unfortunately, tedious. In fact, YWY has not yet been given a wide release in the US, so what we really have here is a (you guessed it) "Making of..." film for marketing purposes. Sure, it would have made a great extra on the YWY DVD, but it is a huge letdown after HEARTS OF DARKNESS. In fact, CODA didn't leave me wanting to see YWY and initial professional reviews reveal that the film itself is a letdown.

Instead, rejoice that Coppola decided to re-release HEARTS OF DARKNESS to home video to market his new film. Every single student of film should see HOD -- it is also a perfect companion piece to Lost in La Mancha, another documentary that shows that most of Hollywood isn't the glitz that it sells. (Fun fact: both HOD and LLM are documentaries about people trying to make films that eluded Orson Welles -- though Coppola succeeded where Terry Gilliam failed.)