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"?