Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)

Seen: On dvd on my tv, from Miles's collection.

I don't think Apocalypse Now is the best thing ever but I have been interested in seeing the behind-the-scenes documentary Hearts of Darkness because of how crazy everyone supposedly is. Composed primarily of footage shot by Francis Ford Coppola's wife Eleanor along with interviews shot after the fact, the film is an intimate look into a grueling production. The cast and crew spent months in the Philippines as a revolution went on around them, their shoot basically following the journey of the characters down the river, deeper and deeper into the jungle and subsequent madness. Coppola is a bit of a mystic tyrant, choosing to allow the film to evolve organically and without clear direction, much to the frustration of his actors and crewmembers. It's kinda like that episode of Community, you know?

For the most part this was what I expected, since I had already heard so many stories about this production, but that doesn't mean it wasn't a really interesting documentary. Eleanor's narration (taken from her diary notes) provides insightful commentary and a personal touch, while the range of interviews offers various perspectives and hindsight. Martin Sheen candidly discusses his alcoholic rage during the hotel scene and subsequent heart attack, while Coppola breezily compares their experiences to actual soldiers in Vietnam. There is awesome footage of how certain effects were created, and wild sets being built. Several actors admit to being drunk and/or high for most of filming, and it's not a surprise.

So this is a good documentary, I just don't have that much to say about it. I'm just not super into Apocalypse Now or Francis Ford Coppola.


Pair This Movie With: Well if you have like 8 hours to spare I suppose Apocalypse Now makes the most sense.