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Hearts of Darkness: A Filmaker's Apocalypse

Dennis Hopper , Martin Sheen , Eleanor Coppola , Fax Bahr    R (Restricted)   DVD
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
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Hearts of Darkness: A Filmaker's Apocalypse + Apocalypse Now Redux
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing in depth, personal documentary Aug. 26 2011
By K. Gordon TOP 50 REVIEWER
Maybe the best film about the making of a film ever.

Funny, frightening, informative, sad and triumphant, it fully
captures the madness of creating one of the great epic films
of the last 50 years.

It also offers insight into how much of art is accidental or discovered
instead of planned.

If you are interested in film, the artistic process, Francis Coppola or
anything else about 'Apocalypse Now' this is a must see.

Indeed, it's pretty much a must see for anyone.
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0 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By falcon
this is a fascinating documentary at times.it goes into all the
problems there were with getting the movie Apocalypse Now finished.the
film went over budget and over time and was beset by weather
problems,as well as problems with government in the Philippines,where
they were filming.as i was watching this documentary,i got the feeling
that there was no way the movie Apocalypse now would be a movie i would
want to see.based upon what was shown,i don't think the movie could
have made much sense.as much as the documentary was fascinating,it
didn't go into enough depth for me.there are also some disturbing
images of animals being killed for a a local ritual,which i felt were
much too graphic and unnecessary.i give Hearts of Darkness a 3/5
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  40 reviews
14 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars DVD is different than original release March 5 2010
By Christopher B. Murray - Published on Amazon.com
HEARTS OF DARKNESS is not only a great documentary, it is perhaps one of the best ever made. It is up there with CRUMB, THE THIN BLUE LINE, WOODSTOCK, MY BEST FIEND, and GREY GARDENS. However, a few changes have been made to the DVD version of the film. The songs "Suzie Q" and "(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction" have been replaced with some corny, cheap imitations--to save money, I suppose. Likewise, in one scene in the original version of the film, Francis Ford Coppola serenades a little girl sitting on his lap--the song? "Anything Goes." In the DVD version of the film, Coppola's singing has been removed, which makes the footage pointless. I don't know if the song was removed because of the potentially immoral implications, or due to more fees for the rights to the song "Anything Goes." Either way, I feel that someone has messed with a masterpiece. Of course the film is still great and should not be missed. Perhaps you have to have seen the original as many times as I have to notice these changes. I only hope I encounter no more changes as I resume watching the film. (I hope someone has not removed The Doors' "The End" and replaced it with something "similar.")
15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Get this to see a great documentary (shown without cuts) not for DVD "extra" Nov. 24 2007
By The Rocketman - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
HEARTS OF DARKNESS is one of the few documentaries on film making where you get to see a true artistic process. After watching this, you will find nearly all "Making of..." pieces found on DVDs for what they really are: marketing fluff. As a result, I eagerly watched HEARTS OF DARKNESS on DVD after last seeing it more than 10 years ago. I was very nervous that Coppola would be releasing a butchered form of the documentary. After all, he bares his soul in a way that few real artists do in public -- the picture of him holding a gun to his head (and not all in fun) is pretty intense stuff.

I am happy to report that the whole film is here, there doesn't appear to any cuts and the run time (96 minutes) matches that of the official times listed on the Internet. Thank you, Francis!

Now to the DVD extra, an hour-long documentary called CODA: THIRTY YEARS LATER. It's this new documentary (40% of the total DVD content!) which explains why Coppola is finally re-releasing HOD. The title "CODA" it misleading (especially in this context) because CODA has nothing to do with Apocalypse Now. Rather it is a documentary on Coppola's newest film YOUTH WITHOUT YOUTH. Perhaps because YWY looks to be an essential parlor piece with lots of dialog, CODA is, unfortunately, tedious. In fact, YWY has not yet been given a wide release in the US, so what we really have here is a (you guessed it) "Making of..." film for marketing purposes. Sure, it would have made a great extra on the YWY DVD, but it is a huge letdown after HEARTS OF DARKNESS. In fact, CODA didn't leave me wanting to see YWY and initial professional reviews reveal that the film itself is a letdown.

Instead, rejoice that Coppola decided to re-release HEARTS OF DARKNESS to home video to market his new film. Every single student of film should see HOD -- it is also a perfect companion piece to Lost in La Mancha, another documentary that shows that most of Hollywood isn't the glitz that it sells. (Fun fact: both HOD and LLM are documentaries about people trying to make films that eluded Orson Welles -- though Coppola succeeded where Terry Gilliam failed.)
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hope that a little fat girl in Ohio will be the next Mozart of film. April 20 2008
By Mike Liddell - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
Destroying professionalism and making it an art form. This is some of the wisdom from Francis Ford Coppola on this documentary made by his wife Eleanor on the making of his film, the godfather of Coppola films in my opinion, Apocalypse Now - The Complete Dossier (Two-Disc Special Collector's Edition)

The interesting thing about Apocalypse Now is that with probably over 1,000 reviews here on Amazon counting the different versions you could probably get a different interpretation for each review. It's so good and so deep and has so many metaphors that it could mean any number of different things for viewers and nobody would be wrong.

I'm not going to try to analyze this documentary however because you have the people involved with this masterpiece giving their own perspectives on the doc. What I will do is list some things I found interesting in hopes of generating some curiosity for people to see this fascinating work. It made me want to see the film again and read the book Heart of Darkness (Norton Critical Editions) and if you haven't seen Apocalypse Now, as a film lover I envy you.

- Harvey Keitel was originally cast to play Capt. Willard and was fired and replaced for Martin Sheen.

- The part in the hotel room where Capt. Willard is spiraling out of control was just as much Sheen. It was his 36th birthday he was drunk and actually punched and broke the glass mirror and broke down.

- Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack while filming and was actually given his last rights, halting filming for a couple of months.

- Coppola mortgaged his own house and used his own money to make the film.

- The boat going down river and the crew specifically Sam Bottoms character was actually under the influence of drugs while filming most of the time.

- Some filming was shot during a typhoon that killed nearly 200 local people.

- Hearts of Darkness was supposed to be Orson Welles first movie instead he did Citizen Kane when it fell through.

- Some of the script was written and altered by Coppola while filming influenced by his dreams and most of the movie he did not have an ending for.

- A civil war was taking place in parts of the Philippines while shooting and helicopters used for the film from the Philippine govt had to be taken straight out of filming and into battle.

The film really shows you art imitating life.
12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deep into the darkness of film and man Oct. 24 2007
By Don Eldredge - Published on Amazon.com
It took a lot of guts on the part of the Coppola family to release this documentary in the first place. Not many people would make public filmed footage of a family's patriarch losing his mind and coming dangerously close to total mental meltdown while making a movie. And in this case we are talking about a highly respected and honored director.

Francis Ford Coppola's descent into madness during the plagued filming of "Apocalypse Now" wasn't entirely the fault of the Philippines Army, horrific weather, Martin Sheen's heart attack during filming, or Marlon Brando's prima donna attitude. It wasn't just the rampant use of pop drugs on the set. Much of the trouble, including the lack of a cohesive script, falls directly on the shoulders of the director. And "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse," shot by the director's wife, Eleanor Coppola, and released 12 years after the original movie, never turns away from the truth. It is a fascinating account of how everything went wrong and still a remarkable film ascended from the madness.

Anyone who believes FF Coppola either botched or somehow missed great opportunity with the compound segment of the film can upon viewing this begin to understand how chaos during those dark days on the set in the late 1970s led to the final outcome. The director said, his film isn't about Vietnam; it is Vietnam. That statement is somewhat validated with this documentary.

It is amazing that such a powerful piece of filmmaking could come out of such a calamity. But, flaws and all, it is among the best films produced out of Hollywood. And this companion piece is a vital part of the story. It is a MUST SEE for fans of "Apocalypse Now." It is engrossing for all.

The late coming DVD release (November 2007) reportedly includes an update piece ("CODA: Thirty Years Later") that is most welcome. It's icing. Buy this one.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Solid July 29 2009
By Cosmoetica - Published on Amazon.com
Hearts Of Darkness glosses over one of the more important aspects of the film's creation, the hiring and firing of the first actor, Harvey Keitel, to portray Lt. Willard. We are simply told it was not working, and cut to Francis's hiring of Martin Sheen. But, we never see any of the footage shot with Keitel, we never learn if he was simply too different from Francis's vision of Willard to work, or was he simply doing a poor job, a malcontent, or clashing too frequently with Francis. For a so-called documentary to leave such wide open says much of the aims of the documentarian, in this case Eleanor. Also left open-ended is a much talked about aspect of the filming that the documentary does not cover, and that is Francis's infidelity on the set, and how that contributed to the distance between the couple. How this affected Eleanor's documentary, much less Apocalypse Now, is certainly ripe for discussion. This is the rare instance where such is not mere gossip for gossip's sake, but pertinent information about the director's state of mind in the improvisatory aspects of the film. Was his film more gloomy because of the infidelity's consequences? Hearts Of Darkness does a great disservice to its viewers by totally avoiding such questions, even as it claims a rare intimacy, due to Eleanor's claim to have surreptitiously recorded conversations without Francis's knowledge.

Overall, the DVD package is barely worth an investment, especially if a Coppola fan, but once again the studio that put out the DVD could have offered so much more for so little an investment. Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse is a good and worthwhile 'Making Of' feature for a DVD release, but, as a stand alone documentary, it is rather lacking. Thus, with two making of documentaries, and no real feature, the package is saved by the aforementioned pluses alone. Better than nothing, but most viewers will wind up asking, 'Well, that's it?'

'Tis.
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