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Thursday, March 2, 2023

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse 1991 * * * Stars


If you're gonna do a documentary about a film, it might as well be a great one. The film I'm talking about is 1979's Apocalypse Now and it happens to be one of my faves of all time. In 1991, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse became the first of its kind and we haven't seen many since. It's like the blueprint of a movie within a movie in which no one has ever attempted to really replicate its modus operandi.

"Hearts of Darkness" is a docu that is somewhat unfocused just as Apocalypse Now is unfocused. There's still brilliance and enrapture to be had. Francis Ford Coppola has never been the most concentrated storyteller but his imagery, tone, and scoped camerawork are the stuff of legend. Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse splices together interviews, archive footage, soothing narration, cross cutting, and rushed editing in order to fulfill its 96-minute running time. It lets you get inside director Coppola's head like creepers.

So why chronicle the making of something that clocked in at 30 on the AFI list? I say why not. I mean Apocalypse Now had a troubled production. Star Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack (in his 30s), sets were destroyed, script changes were abundant, Marlon Brando showed up obese, and the flick took over a year to shoot (no joke). All this info for searing cataloging is there for the taking. "The horror!" The horror!" Indeed.

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse is haunting and grainy and dense. It's also an alternative and antithesis to viewing the bloated Apocalypse Now Redux (a 202-minute recut that I thought ruined the flow of the original). Three helmers had a hand in making "Hearts of Darkness" (one of them was Coppola's wife). The pic felt like a bruised journey as opposed to a cinematic celebration of completion. I still dug it though.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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