8 December 2009 | bobsgrock
A personal journey into the heart of darkness.
Never before has a documentary so closely been able to capture the spontaneity, the ambition, the determination needed to make a movie. It is a well-known fact that Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola's epic tale of the chaos and confusion surrounding America's involvement in the Vietnam War, was at first glance a financial and monumental disaster. It took almost twice as long to shoot as expected, went way over budget and Coppola had numerous problems with actors and in writing the script. Yet, 30 years later, we look at this film and it is quite simply perfect. How could this be and what is it that drove Coppola to make this movie despite all outside forces against him? These questions are what is at the center of this fascinating documentary shot by Coppola's own wife, Eleanor. Shot without her husband's awareness, we get the full and unedited explanation of why things went so bad. Bad luck, bad weather and just plain bad results led to the debacle Coppola found himself in; driving so close as to contemplate suicide. In-depth interviews with many of the cast and crew reveal even more. But at the heart of this documentary, the film Apocalypse Now, and the career of Francis Ford Coppola, is a desire.
He mentions it several times; he always had the desire and ambition to go as far as he could, to make a great movie and not just make money. He put up all the money he had to make this one, a personal journey and one that very well may be the highlight of his career. Looking at movies today, I realize that this is what makes Coppola such a great filmmaker and auteur. He has that ambition and desire to go way above and beyond what most other directors do. No movie studio would even dare make another Apocalypse Now today because it is too incredible for their own good. One of the very last great filmmakers of all time, watching this documentary is an account of a personal journey of Coppola into the real heart of darkness: fear and anxiety that he would make a forgettable and deplorable movie. Thank God he did not.