"Should've been on the 'Apocalypse Now' DVD as an extra."
Or, how a young director’s romantic notion of a cinematic statement comes back to haunt him and turns into a prolonged nightmare.Probably nothing in this excellent documentary about the making of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is more telling than George Lucas’ admitting that he (who once planned to direct it) and writer John Milius wanted to shoot the movie in Vietnam while the war was still going on. That may not have been much worse than Coppola’s ordeal some years later, in the oppressively hot Phillippines, where monsoons destroyed entire sets, helicopters on loan from Ferdinand Marcos were recalled in mid-scene, original star Harvey Keitel left the film, replacement star Martin Sheen almost died of a heart attack, and so on.
Whatever our opinion of Apocalypse Now, we come away from the documentary with a profound admiration for Coppola, if only because he didn’t kill himself or someone else. His wife Eleanor catches him on camera saying things like “This is not a good movie” and “I don’t know what I’m doing,” not to mention the infamous, often-misquoted "If Marty dies, I want to hear that everything's okay until I say he's dead." The documentary actually outdoes the movie it examines in terms of illustrating a specific brand of madness and how it flourishes in the right heady atmosphere.Coppola went up the river as Willard and became Kurtz, and it’s all here on film.