Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now is a nightmarish fever dream that details one man's descent into madness in a chaotic, irrational environment and in many ways so was the making of the film. In Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, George Hickenlooper and Fax Bahr, in collaboration with Coppola's wife Eleanor (who provides narration from her on-set diary and secretly recorded video footage) document the tumultuous shoot on location in Philippines. From its massive delays and overages (which its director covered out of pocket), constant on-set headaches, a problematic cast (with issues ranging from rampant drug use to uncooperative stars--the outtakes with Marlon Brando are hilarious--the firing of Harvey Keitel after a few weeks, and a couple heart attacks for his replacement Martin Sheen) and coupled by the fact that Coppola seems to be apparently losing his mind. What makes this intimate, fascinating documentary all the more intriguing is that amid all this chaos, Coppola was able to fashion only one of the greatest war films of all time.