Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse


Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

Critics Consensus

Chronicling the filming of Apocalypse Now through Eleanor Coppola's empathetic and frank point of view, Hearts of Darkness is a revelatory investigation of moviemaking and how creative obsession can impact an artist's family.



Total Count: 25


Audience Score

User Ratings: 9,354
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Movie Info

An intimate look at the making of Francis Ford Coppola's 1979 classic Apocalypse Now, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse combines the usual documentary interviews with outtakes from the film and rare documentary footage, some shot on the set by Eleanor Coppola. Not long after the arrival of Francis Ford Coppola and crew in the Philippines, the shooting schedule begins spiraling out of control; the film's cost has soon far surpassed the original budget, with the ending still unwritten. As the problems mount, from lead Martin Sheen's heart attack to the disappearance of several helicopters needed for a scene (because they went to fight in a nearby war), the making of the film begins to frighteningly resemble its subject -- an unending tale of madness and obsession in the jungle. The film provides a remarkably immediate look at the filmmaking process and the personalities involved, especially Coppola, who publicly acts the autocrat but privately proclaims his belief that he is making an awful film, and Marlon Brando, whose rambling, mumbled improvisations are among the documentary's highlights. Even more impressively, the documentary explores how, despite the chaotic environment, the filmmakers somehow managed to produce an acclaimed, lasting work of art.


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Critic Reviews for Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

All Critics (25) | Top Critics (8) | Fresh (25)

  • A fascinating 1991 postmortem on the making of Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now.

    Nov 19, 2007 | Full Review…
  • At once anecdotal and revealing, this excellent film both illuminates the catastrophes that beset one particular project, and shows, by way of comparison, exactly what American film has foregone since the '70s.

    Feb 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Geoff Andrew

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • There have been few sharper portraits of the film maker as alchemist than Hearts of Darkness: A Film Maker's Apocalypse.

    May 20, 2003 | Rating: 4/5
  • As the portrait of an artist in crisis, Hearts of Darkness is unparalleled.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • Harrowing and funny, a fine film on its own, Hearts leaves us with a new appreciation for the Vietnam War epic it documents.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Full Review…
  • The making of a film has never been documented with more penetration and truth than in Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse.

    Jan 1, 2000 | Rating: 3.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse

  • Oct 02, 2015
    Four stars is a little bit generous for "Hearts of Darkness" though it is a good documentary. It lacks something, and if I have to guess then I would say it is pacing. The film goes on for a time and then ends. Still, it has good footage and one gets to watch the director face problem after problem yet pull through. Definitely give it a view if you are a fan of Apocalypse Now.
    Robert B Super Reviewer
  • Jul 16, 2013
    The documentary "Hearts of Darkness" is fascinating not just as a behind-the-scenes look at a masterful film, but as a deeply relatable and fairly profound statement about creative ambition and insanity (and the fine line between the two). After all, it shows firsthand that even the guy responsible for "The Godfather" is nothing more than a fragile, yet hopeful individual (just like the rest of us).
    Sam B Super Reviewer
  • Mar 24, 2013
    Hearts of Darkness is a monumental documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now. With this film, we get to see the making of this epic war film, and the chaos it took to create such a monumental cinematic achievement. With in depth behind the scenes footage, the film gives the viewer the real story about this stunning work, and how hard it was for director Francis Ford Coppola. The film boasts interviews with everyone involved with the project. I feel that this is among the best documentaries ever made and it is a definite must see for fans of Apocalypse Now. Watching this film you get a sense of the dedication that Coppola had in making this ambitious film. Hearts of Darkness is an enthralling picture that is brilliant, fascinating and above all intense. This is a journey into a chaotic filmmaking experience that is brilliantly captured. Each person from the actors to the filmmakers gives their insight into the massive project. Coppola faced some serious obstacles in making Apocalypse Now, he financed the film with his own money, the project extended beyond the original shooting schedule and lead actor Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack on set. Coppola was faced with great doubt whether he was making a good picture or not. Throughout the shooting schedule, Coppola would go through great risk, almost to the point where his sanity was tested. The end result was not only a great film, but a standout piece of classic cinema. Hearts of Darkness is a terrific film that really plunges the viewer into the action of what it was like to make this cinematic classic. This is a documentary that is just as good as the film it documents. Another aspect of the film is that it shows the dedication that Coppola has to his craft, the dedication he has to make something unforgettable to watch. Apocalypse Now payed off for him and Hearts of Darkness is an exploration in how far filmmakers will go to convey his vision on celluloid.
    Alex r Super Reviewer
  • Dec 06, 2011
    All the more amazing for the fact that it's real. Full review later.
    Thomas B Super Reviewer

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