Written by: Michael Den Boer on September 18th, 2006
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1991
Approximate running time: 96 mins
Aspect Ratios: 1.33:1 Full Frame & Letterboxed
Directors: Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper, Eleanor Coppola
Writers: Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper
Cinematography: Larry Carney, Shana Hagan, Igor Meglic, Steven Wacks
Cast: Sam Bottoms, Marlon Brando, Colleen Camp, Eleanor Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Dennis Hopper, George Lucas, John Milius, Martin Sheen, G.D. Spradlin
“I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn’t even know it yet. Weeks away and hundreds of miles up a river that snaked through the war like a main circuit cable – plugged straight into Kurtz. It was no accident that I got to be the caretaker of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz’s memory – any more than being back in Saigon was an accident. There is no way to tell his story without telling my own. And if his story really is a confession, then so is mine.” – Captain Benjamin L. Willard
After the success of Godfather part one and two and the critical acclaim of The Conversation director Francis Ford Coppola would return to a project he had six years earlier envisioned as the debut film for his production company American Zoetrope. This project would become the film Apocalypse Now through a series of documentary footage shot on location, audio interviews with Francis Ford Coppola and new interviews with most of cast and crew filmmakers Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper try to figure out the enigma that is Apocalypse Now.
The films beginnings can be traced back to John Milius original screenplay about his Vietnam War experiences that he wrote in the late 1960’s. The film like those who would work on it would began to morph into something entirely different then the screenplay which original served as the films starting point. Francis Ford Coppola as the film progressed would rely more and more on Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness. Francis Ford Coppola who had originally intended to produce the film and George Lucas was the films original director. The two directors have styles that are so drastically different that one has to wonder what type of film would George Lucas have made and would he have run into the same problems as Francis Ford Coppola?
One other major change that occurred during the making of this film was changing of the lead actor during filming. Martin Sheen would come in and replace Harvey Keitel as Captain Benjamin L. Willard. The end result paid off as Martin Sheen gives the finest performance of his career. Tragedy would also strike Martin Sheen who suffered a heart attack while making the film and would end up missing five weeks of filming. The film would be plagued with a lot of bad luck and much of this contributed to films mammoth 238 day shooting schedule.
There is never a dull moment as all the footage past and present is perfectly edited together. The pacing is nearly flawless as filmmakers Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper give each story enough time to breath and they never let them overstay their welcome. The film is ultimately about ones inward journey to find their inner self and the Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse is a no holds barred look into the madness and great challenge that all involved with the project had to overcome to complete this epic film.