Coppola recalls his feelings while making film

October 12, 1991|By Michael Hill | Michael Hill,Evening Sun Staff

The raw material for the Showtime documentary "Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" languished in Francis Ford Coppola's garage for more than a decade.

Gathering dust was more than 60 hours of footage shot by Mr. Coppola's wife, Eleanor, of her husband and his cast and crew at work in the Philippines during the making of this before-its-time epic on the Vietnam war.

"After 'Apocalypse Now' we were really trying to consolidate our lives and make it through," said Mr. Coppola during a recent interview in Los Angeles.

"We didn't know what we had left. We had a lot of material from many films that were made over my career that were in the garage. No one was really sure what it was."

Mr. Coppola said a reorganization of his company, Zoetrope Studios, led to an inventory. Some young filmmakers fascinated by Mr. Coppola's work were brought in to distill the footage into a thematic whole, which became the 100-minute documentary that premieres tonight.

"We didn't particularly have a real reason even to want to revisit that," Mr. Coppola said of the "Apocalypse Now" years.

No wonder. One of his stars, Martin Sheen, suffered a heart attack in the jungle. His studio made him put up his own money to back the film. And many ridiculed his spendthrift ways as he pursued his vision.

"I was feeling very isolated," he recalled. "I was an American filmmaker doing something risky, even, if I could say, courageous, because I was making the first film to deal with the Vietnam war. And I was using my own money.

"I felt really ridiculed," he added, "like I was being held up as an oddball. I couldn't understand that because I thought other people were making expensive films at the time, like 'Superman,' and nobody was making fun of them."

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