Apocalypse Now (1979) is Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War movie about a man’s descent into madness, as he struggles to finish his mission, is very reflective of how it was made.
Since it began its production in 1976, Coppola’s project was doomed to fail. Their shooting location in Manila was subjected to horrible weather conditions–thunderstorms and floods quickly destroyed expensive, custom-built production sets. Coppola’s vision from the onset was to create a war movie with authenticity. He championed expensive casting choices, pursuing big-ticket stars such as Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, Tommy Lee Jones and Al Pacino. With this kind of ambition and reckless optimism, it comes as no surprise that Coppola ultimately mishandled the budget.
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991) is the documentary of Coppola’s wife Eleanor, detailing the making of Apocalypse Now. The project delves into the madness of the film’s production team and is arguably the best documentary about the horrors of filmmaking. Eleanor Coppola went to extreme lengths to capture her husband’s obsession and change of heart while making his film. Despite countless tragedies, one can easily identify Francis Ford Coppola as an inconsiderate egotistic for doggedly trying to push the project forward. Despite multiple Academy Awards already under his belt, it seemed he was trying to prove something with this particularly cursed project.
Hearts of Darkness, much like Apocalypse Now, reveals how internal battles can easily interfere with the world around us. But despite the latter movie’s harrowing conclusion, Hearts of Darkness ended in a more positive note, as Apocalypse Now ultimately became an award-winning feature, celebrated in Cannes and the Oscars.