HEARTS OF DARKNESS is a fascinating documentary about the prolonged, chaotic filming of Francis Ford Coppola’s anti-war epic APOCALYPSE NOW. This cautionary tale about the excesses of money, pride and pretension features harsh language, battlefield violence and actual animal sacrifices. It mixes documentary footage with numerous interviews and clips from the finished epic. After assembling a talented cast and crew and building enormous sets in the Philippines, Coppola was beset by one reversal after another. Helicopters rented from Marcos suddenly flew away to battle insurgents in the jungle. A tropical storm delayed shooting for weeks. Actor Harvey Keitel was fired after the shooting began. His replacement, Martin Sheen, suffered a massive heart attack. As the months dragged on, the cast and crew became disoriented, leaving decisions and overall judgement strewn through the wilderness. Sequences were shot with actors loaded on speed, marijuana, or LSD.
Of course, the problem was that the filmmaker’s hearts were as dark and bent as the perpetuators of the Vietnam War. Although it is interesting to see Coppola’s creativity at work, the movie is basically an exercise in futility.
(LL, VV, A/D) 27 obscenities & 3 profanities; battlefield violence, man and woman mauled by machine gun, brief but graphic animal sacrifices; and, alcohol & drug abuse.