By: Oberst Von Berauscht (A Toast) –
Francis Ford Coppola’s epic war movie Apocalypse Now had gigantic ambitions, and fittingly, so did the filmmaker. So much so, that he invested much of his own money into the project, just to ensure he maintained 100% creative control. His investors were more or less assured of a successful film, as Coppola’s career up to that point included three of the greatest movies of all time, all of which were very well received by critics and audiences alike. With such high expectations, a gigantic budget, a star-studded cast, and crew the size of an army, plus the assistance of an actual army, it seemed like nothing could possibly go wrong.
Yeah… about that
There has simply never been a more compelling filmed document of the filmmaking process. Aside from contending with hurricanes, drunken and/or drugged up actors (one having a frigging heart attack on set), and a real civil war threatening to envelope the set, director Coppola faced his own indecision. The result is a filmmaking process which paralleled the struggles of the fictional characters in the movie. Filmed by Coppola’s wife Eleanor, and edited with interviews by filmmakers Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper; Hearts of Darkness is arguably more harrowing than Apocalypse Now, a film which still stands as one of the finest war pictures of all time. Regardless of whether you prefer the documentary over the movie, it is an absolutely essential companion piece.
“Hey, man, you don’t talk to the director. You listen to him. The man’s enlarged my mind.“
It is fascinating to see how hard the experience affected the minds of those involved, many would argue that Coppola’s experiences damaged him in some way, as he never really was able to make another film as effective. Perhaps the film’s success is a miracle in itself, as at times the viewer gets the sense that Coppola had lost touch with reality, and is just making things up as he goes along. Coppola’s next film One from the Heart was a notorious commercial and critical flop, which was partly responsible for the end of the New Wave of Hollywood.
Though admittedly with a bitching soundtrack by Tom Waits…
God himself could not defeat Coppola. Only Coppola can defeat Coppola.
Take a Drink: when anything goes wrong
Take an extra Drink: when it’s the director’s fault
Do a Shot: when it’s an act of God