Eleanor Coppola on Hearts of Darkness

By Walter Donohue | November 26, 2010
Hearts Of Darkness Faber & Faber

Eleanor Coppola discusses Hearts of Darkness: a Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, directed by Fax Bahr and the late George Hickenlooper, a documentary which gives a front row seat on the making of Apocalypse Now.

To mark 19 years since the release of Hearts of Darkness: a Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, Faber & Faber’s Walter Donohue presents an extract from Eleanor Coppola’s Notes: On the making of Apocalypse Now in which she talks about the movie.

Hearts of Darkness: a Filmmaker’s Apocalypse is a searing, yet illuminating, behind-the-scenes glimpse into the making of Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. The documentary includes footage shot by Coppola’s wife, Eleanor, who has this to say about how it came to be made:

“The documentary footage I shot in the Philippines during the course of the production of Apocalypse Now was edited in several different versions. Squabbles ensued over what point of view the film should take and finally the project was abandoned. Sixty hours of film and forty hours of audio tapes were put into storage and essentially forgotten.

In 1990 two film-makers who had been young students when Apocalypse first came out approached us with the idea of making a documentary from the perspective of looking back at the experience years later. With our approval they took on the task and created a film using my original material plus their own new interviews. I visited the editing room several times and watched many hours of footage. As I sat there in the dim light, caught up by old images and sounds, I felt drawn into a maelstrom of memories and emotions from that intense period of our lives and yet I was impressed with how much I still treasured the whole experience; it was a time when the boundaries of my thoughts and feelings were stretched in ways I had never imagine possible.

The film-makers used excerpts from my memoir Notes as narration for the documentary and directed my reading of it in the recording studio. The film, entitled Hearts of Darkness: a Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, is a memorable and emotional reminder of the force of Francis creative spirit in the face of every conceivable obstacle.”

Extract taken from Notes: On the making of Apocalypse Now by Eleanor Coppola (Faber & Faber, 1995)  

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