Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

Synopsis: Documents the sensational events surrounding the making of Apocalypse Now (1979)' and Francis Ford Coppola's struggle with nature, governments, actors, and self-doubt. Includes footage and sound secretly recorded by Eleanor Coppola, wife of Francis.
Genre: Documentary
Production: Showtime Network
  Won 2 Primetime Emmys. Another 6 wins & 5 nominations.
 
IMDB:
8.2
Rotten Tomatoes:
100%
R
Year:
1991
96 min
61 Views

My film is not a movie.

My film is not about Vietnam.

It is Vietnam.

It's what it was really like. It was crazy.

And the way we made it was very much

like the way

the Americans were in Vietnam.

We were in the jungle.

There were too many of us.

We had access to too much money,

too much equipment,

and little by little, we went insane.

This movie I'm making

is not in the tradition

of the great Max Ophuls

or David Lean even.

This movie was made in the tradition of

Irwin Allen.

I made the most vulgar, entertaining,

exciting, action-full, sensoramic,

give-them-a-new-thrill-

every-five-minutes,

have it everything, sex, violence, humor,

because I want people

to come and see it.

But the questions that I kept facing

or running into,

into the stupid script about

four guys going up to kill a guy...

But that was the story.

But the questions that that story

kept putting me, I couldn't answer.

Yet I knew that I had constructed

the film in such a way

that to not answer would be to fail.

The film Francis is making is

a metaphor for a journey into self.

He has made that journey

and is still making it.

It's scary to watch someone you love

go into the center of himself

and confront his fears,

fear of failure, fear of death,

fear of going insane.

You have to fail a little,

die a little, go insane a little,

to come out the other side.

The process is not over for Francis.

My greatest fear

is to make a really shitty,

embarrassing, pompous film

on an important subject,

and I am doing it.

I confront it. I acknowledge.

I will tell you right straight from

the most sincere depths of my heart,

the film will not be good.

It's like going to school.

You finish your term paper

and maybe you get a B instead

of an A+ that you wanted,

so you got a B.

But I'm gonna get an F.

This film is a $20-million disaster.

Why won't anyone believe me?

I am thinking of shooting myself!

Good evening.

This is Orson Welles

inviting you to listen now

to The Heart of Darkness

by Joseph Conrad.

Imagine the feelings of a skipper

of a fine frigate or a bark.

A civilized man

at the very end of the world.

He'd land in a swamp,

march through the woods,

and in some inland post

feel the savagery,

the utter savagery that stirs

in the forests and the jungles

in the hearts of wild men.

In 1939, Orson Welles planned

to make Heart of Darkness

as his first motion picture.

Heart of Darkness is the story

of a ship captain's journey

up the Congo River

to find Mr. Kurtz, an ivory trader

stationed deep in the jungle.

A brilliant man of high ideals,

Kurtz intends to enlighten the natives.

Instead, he succumbs

to the primal temptations

of the jungle and goes insane.

Screen tests were done

with Welles as Kurtz

and sets were designed,

but the studio backed away

from the project,

fearing the elaborate production

would go over budget.

Welles made Citizen Kane instead.

Heart of Darkness was abandoned

in pre-production.

In 1969, Francis founded

American Zoetrope,

a company dedicated to filmmaking

outside of the Hollywood system.

One of their first projects

was Apocalypse Now,

a Vietnam War story based loosely

on Heart of Darkness.

Apocalypse Now concerns

a Captain Willard on his mission

to assassinate

a Green Beret colonel named Kurtz.

Kurtz has gone insane

and is conducting the war

on his own terms deep in Cambodia.

George Lucas was to direct

John Milius' screenplay.

Francis said that Heart of Darkness,

which was one of my favorite things

I'd ever read,

he said it had been tried

and no one could lick it.

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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