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Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

Directed by Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper and Eleanor Coppola.
With Francis Ford Coppola, Eleanor Coppola, Dennis Hopper.
US, 1971, 35mm, color, 96 min.
Print source: HFA

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse documents the sensational events that unfolded during the making of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Featuring several hours of Eleanor Coppola’s documentary footage of the Philippines production—complete with secret audio recordings she made of her husband—the film details the director’s self-financed creation, teetering on the brink of complete collapse. Amid intense flooding, battles with the Filipino government over helicopters, Martin Sheen’s heart attack, rampant drug use among both cast and crew, and Marlon Brando’s prima donna antics, Coppola likens the experience of filming to his own personal Vietnam. The covert recordings reveal the director’s serious self-doubt and fear of failure in cahoots with a maniacal ego driving him to continue on at any cost—even bankruptcy—to bring Joseph Conrad’s legendary novel to the big screen for the first time. Both Apocalypse Now and Hearts of Darkness ultimately succeed in spite of themselves as triumphs of single-minded vision and will, ultimately illustrating the heart of Conrad’s novel from both the war’s front and behind the scenes.

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