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.
by Judd Blaise synopsis