Apocalypse Now: Hearts of Darkness Doc

apocalypse now coppola 1

Hearts Of Darkness, the no-holds barred documentary on the incredible making of Francis Coppola’s classic film Apocalypse Now, is taken from hours of footage by his long suffering wife, Eleanor, who faithfully followed the obsessed director on his quest. The finished documentary is edited by George Hickenlooper and Fax Bahr. Eleanor said the idea came about because:

“At that time, five minute promotional spots for movies were shown on television, so they wanted to send a team out to the Philippines to make a spot for Apocalypse Now. Francis was already starting to get into difficulties and didn’t want the studio to send people out to see what was going on, so he told them, “We’ll do it here.” He looked around for somebody to shoot some material but everyone had a job, except me. At the time I was feeling cut off from the creative art scene I’d left behind in San Francisco, and was getting depressed. I think Francis felt that I could do this project and it would give me a focus. I had made several very short 16mm conceptual art films although I hadn’t handled the camera myself. When the equipment arrived on our front porch I read the directions and went into the dark bathroom and taught myself how to load the magazines. I felt that if all that was needed was five minutes then sooner or later, if I just kept shooting, there would be something for the editors to make into a spot.

So I got the guy projecting Francis’s rushes at night who was free during the day; he took the sound equipment and I took the camera, and we set off. At first we practised where the production was training GI’s, and we just shot everything in sight. After a while, word came from the publicity department that they’d like to do a fifteen minute piece about the making of Apocalypse Now. After all, it wasn’t costing the budget anything, because I was unpaid, and the sound man was already on the crew – so we just kept shooting.”

eleanor coppola

Of course, hours upon hours of candid footage was shot, then edited into a feature length doc, narrated by Eleanor from her Notes On The Making Of Apocalypse Now. In those published notes , on February 17, 1978, in preparation for the first screening of Coppola’s rough cut at their house in Napa Valley, California, Eleanor writes:

When Francis comes this weekend, I will ask him how the cut is going. How many minutes he was able to cut out of the ending sequence, about the narration. I will say, “Don’t be scared. Remember those guys that jumped out of the windows when the stock market crashed? They thought they were their money. You are not your movie. If people think it is great, you are not God. If people think it stinks, you are not a fool. You are a human being who gave it everything you had. You didn’t spare anything, or anybody, including yourself. There is no more courageous act than that.” 

Here’s Coppola’s on-set opinion, and the filming of the final Kurtz / Willard confrontation:

 

Originally posted 2013-09-11 22:07:42. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

Read and post comments on this article