Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991) – A Review


A review of the 1991 documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse about the drama while making Francis Ford Coppola’s war film Apocalypse Now

Hearts of Darkness Apocalypse Now Francis Ford Coppola documentary

One of the best behind the scenes/making of documentaries ever. The film recounts the consistent obstacles director Francis Ford Coppola faced when he trekked out to the Philippines to shoot his 1979 film Apocalypse Now. When he arrived everything that could go wrong did.

Coppola’s wife Eleanor accompanied him and along the way shot footage recounting the production. Bad weather, heart attacks, confused actors, miscommunication with the Philipino government, an escalating budget, an endless schedule and an unfinished script helped create a swirl of bad fortune for the eventual revered film and the stressed director. However, at the time all of Hollywood was snickering at what Coppola got himself into.

The behind the scenes footage is fascinating to see. While we’ve become accustomed to seeing endless hours of ‘making of’ clips, interviews with actors on-set and botched takes today for every film, it’s not very often audiences are offered much of that insight into an older film, especially one that has become considered a modern classic.

The revisited interviews with Coppola, the actors and other filmmakers offer honest, revealing stories about their time spent on the film and they don’t necessarily paint everyone in the best of light.

Marlon Brando might be considered one of the greatest actors ever, but he sure does come off as a big pain in the ass. The film does a great job throwing you into the time and place of the filming when everyone wasn’t sure if the film would ever get finished and what exactly it would turn out to be if it ever did.

For anyone who’s seen Apocalypse Now, this documentary should be required viewing. In fact any fan of cinema should see it.


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