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HEARTS OF DARKNESS: A FILMMAKER'S APOCALYPSE

USA, 1991 (MIFF 1991, Documentaries)

Director: Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper

Like Gone With The Wind, Cleopatra and Heaven's Gate, Apocalypse Now had one of the most troubled shoots in cinematic lore. Eleanor Coppola had been on most of her husband's previous shoots, but for Apocalypse, he asked her to make a documentary about the production for United Artists' publicity. The intended film never materialized, but its existence has been the stuff of Hollywood legend - 60 to 80 hours of raw footage chronicling the creation of one of the greatest films of its time. Now George Zaloom and Fax Bahr have created Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, combining generous portions of Eleanor Coppola's footage with current-day interviews with 30 Apocalypse principals, including the Coppolas, Martin Sheen, Dennis Hopper, Robert Duvall, Larry Fishburne, co-scenarist Michael Herr and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. The film includes interviews from the original Philippine set as well as never before seen Coppola footage such as the French plantation sequence and some of Marlon Brando's improvisations.

So star-crossed was Apocalypse Now that even a catalogue of the obstacles that hampered the filmmakers doesn't present a clear image of what they overcame. A typhoon wiped out alt the sets; the leading man was replaced after crucial scenes had been filmed; nearly the entire script was rewritten during production; the new lead actor had a heart attack; and so it went on... All this, and more, is captured in Hearts of Darkness, which as a behind-the-scenes, insider's view on the making of a modern movie classic, makes for compelling viewing.

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