50 Documentaries to See Before You Die

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

Director: Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper, Eleanor Coppola

Art is pain—just ask Francis Ford Coppola. He'll tell you all about the nightmare that was his Apocalypse Now production, an endless succession of environmental interruptions, over-budget concerns, and health problems, both physical and mental. It's all captured with honesty and precision by the director's wife, Eleanor Coppola, who gave her raw behind-the-scenes footage to filmmakers Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper, who then shot all-new interviews and worked everything into the greatest documentary about the making of a movie ever.

There's Martin Sheen raving like a madman while getting ready for a particularly harrowing scene, roaring with such unbridled intensity that you're waiting for him to pounce upon Coppola and his crew. Marlon Brando, meanwhile, earning $1 million a week, hovers onto set without being fully prepared, quarrels with the director, and walks away mid-scene. All of which leads Coppola to a near breakdown, unaware that he's about to unleash one of the most powerful films of all time, when all's said and done. —MB

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