Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now has been one of my favorite films of all time since the first time I watched it many years ago. While I may not have been alive during the Vietnam War, that doesn’t prevent me from being able to appreciate spectacular film making when I see it. Thus, it should come as no surprise that I am now a big fan of the documentary – Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse – covering the making of Apocalypse Now.
Wow. I mean, you can tell when you watch the original (or the Redux) that an insane amount of effort and energy went into its making, but I never knew that it was literally almost actual insanity that made the film so captivating. From Martin Sheen suffering a heart attack 3/4 of the way through filming to Marlon Brando’s almost entirely improvisational role to Laurence “Larry” Fishburne being only 14 at the time to the multi-year/multi-million dollar production, Apocalypse Now was a film project of immense proportions.
Perhaps the most redeeming quality of this documentary is that it was largely filmed and overseen by Eleanor Coppola (Francis’ wife) who was along for the entire ride. Seeing what was really going on behind the scenes adds a whole other layer to the film itself, especially in light of the fact that it was teetering on the edge throughout the entire production.
Bottom line – if you like or love Apocalypse Now, you should definitely see Hearts of Darkness.