Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Hearts of Darkness:
A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991)

The long and painful ordeal that was the making of Apocalypse Now will probably be the closest that Francis Ford Coppola will ever come to knowing what it's like to give birth. And I've enjoyed the finished product over the years on a number of levels, but there will always be something about his attitude towards his art that doesn't quite sit right with me. Here's what he said about the experience: "The film wasn't about Vietnam, it was Vietnam." Let's see...jungles? Check. Explosions? Check. Illicit drugs and general insanity? Checkaroo. Several million deaths during filming? Not exactly. Imagine if one of the presidential candidates uttered something similar: "You know, I had a troubled upbringing. In fact, I often refer to my childhood as The Vietnam War." I'm pretty sure it would mean the end of his campaign. Mostly I just think it's amusing, and I would never let something silly like a pretentious director ruin my enjoyment of a good film. But after watching this fascinating documentary I have to ask myself: where would Apocalypse be today without Martin Sheen's legendary performance? And is there any other actor whom I could tolerate in a nearly three-and-a-half hour "Redux"?


Wiwille said...

It's funny how you refer to him as pretentious, which I agree. I remember a scene from this film where he spews into the camera the dangers of being so.

A great look into the film, but his whining kind of got to me. I guess it's to be expected with something as revealing as this film.

scituate said...

Yeah, I remember that part. His worst fear is that he'll try to make something great and it will turn out pretentious. But I don't think the film itself is pretentious, but when he talks about it he sure is.