Monday, June 8, 2009

"My movie is not about Vietnam, my movie is Vietnam" HEARTS OF DARKNESS DOCUMENTARY MARATHON

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse-1991- Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper


Making of documentaries are usually meaningless little additions added on to a DVD package to give the consumers a little more for their buck. Rarely do you find within the confines of one of these films a narrative so deeply reaching at the reasoning behind making such a film. In Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, we are given the behind the scenes story of Francis Ford Coppola's struggle to get Apocalypse Now made.

Eleanor Coppola, Francis' wife, kept a diary about the on set struggles of not only Francis and the crew, but of herself and their family. She also documented behind the scenes footage for Francis, and unknowingly to him, recorded private conversations between the two of them that shows a vulnerable, scared side that is rarely heard of from a director of his caliber.

Hearts of Darkness works because it almost becomes a remake of Apocalypse Now. It is a film about obsession, it is shown through a war(filmmaking), we watch our lead character slip deeper and deeper into his obsession until it completely engulfs him. The only difference is Coppola isn't forced to deal with "the horror, the horror", as all of his fears cause him to make a film that opens to widespread universal acclaim. This is, unless you account for Coppola's sudden decline as a filmmaker after Apocalypse Now, which is interesting to note. Not that he never made another good movie, but that he never made another masterpiece.

"My greatest fear is to make a really shitty, embarrassing, pompous film on an important subject, and I am doing it. And I confront it. I acknowledge, I will tell you right straight from the most sincere depths of my heart, the film will not be good"

The documentary is both scary in it's presentations of obsession and doubt mixed with the fear of an unfulfilled dream, and uplifting in Coppola's perseverance at any cost. In the end, that's what makes it so compelling. Oftentimes it's hard to decide to cry out of grief or elation, you just have to look away. It's almost like a horror film because everything happening to Coppola, be it physical, emotional or mental, truly is horrific. Coppola himself seems to become a monster.

Ultimately, Hearts of Darkness reminds me of one of Nietzsche's famous quotes, " If you stare into the abyss long enough, the abyss stares back at you." It is that kind of thing that the artist must so often face, and Coppola does head on, for the good of his art at the time, but possibly to the detriment of the artist.

1 comment:

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