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directed by Eleanor Coppola, Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper
USA 1991


Long-desired by cinema enthusiasts and completists, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse finally arrives on DVD in November 2007. In the United States alone, there have been three official, separate releases of Apocalypse Now (original theatrical, Redux, Complete Dossier) and a Circuit-City exclusive (containing an extra disc with trailers that were left off the Complete Dossier). However, as we all know about the existence of Hearts of Darkness, The Complete Dossier is an obvious misnomer.

Hearts of Darkness is a documentary with footage shot during the production of Apocalypse Now. Much of the footage was shot by Eleanor Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola’s wife. Hearing and reading about the production’s travails pales in comparison to seeing the chaotic shoot with our own eyes. I think the true value of Hearts of Darkness lies in its demystification of Coppola. Clearly, he’s no “great man” but a frequently out-of-control director whose fall from grace with his next movie, One From the Heart, shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone after seeing Hearts of Darkness. (In fact, One From the Heart’s failure basically bankrupted Coppola, forcing him to work as a gun-for-hire on junk like Captain EO and Jack for much of the 1980s and 1990s in order to pay off his debts.) Even with The Godfather, The Godfather II, and The Conversation on one’s résumé, one ought to be wary of buying the hype.

David McCoy


Theatrical Release: 7 September 1991 (Toronto Film Festival)

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DVD Review: Paramount - Region 1 - NTSC

Big thanks to David McCoy for the Review!

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Region 1 - NTSC

Runtime 96 mins

1.33:1 Original Aspect Ratio
Average Bitrate: 6.15 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.


Audio DD 2.0 surround English
Subtitles Optional English, French, Spanish
Features Release Information:
Studio: Paramount

Aspect Ratio:
Fullscreen - 1.33:1

Edition Details:
• audio commentary by Francis and Eleanor Coppola
• CODA: Thirty Years Later

DVD Release Date: 20 November 2007
keepcase with cardboard slipcover

Chapters 31





The picture appears in its original 1.33:1 aspect ratio. Generally, the quality is poor since the footage was shot with 16mm cameras. Some scenes were shot or mastered on video, so parts of the documentary is dark and muddy. The raw footage that Francis Ford Coppola shot for his movie was un-restored (scratches, sprocket jumps, etc.), though scenes from the finished film look very good. The source could be analog video, which would explain ghosting and mild interlacing.

The only audio option is the movie’s original DD 2.0 surround English track. It has survived the ages well; voices and on-set recordings remain crisp and untouched by pops/drop-outs. However, the movie is a straightforward documentary, so expect much of the sound to come from the front center channel.

Optional English, French, and Spanish subtitles as well as optional English closed captions support the audio.
The big extra here is an audio commentary by Francis and Eleanor Coppola. The two were not recorded together, with Francis on the right-hand speaker and with Eleanor on the left-hand speaker. He defends and explains his behavior, though he doesn’t repudiate anything that we’re shown. She provides context about the history of her involvement in Hearts of Darkness.

CODA: Thirty Years Later is practically a feature film of its own. Eleanor Coppola shot a documentary about the making of Francis Ford Coppola’s Youth Without Youth. There are clips from the new film as well as home videos of Francis as a child. CODA is much more laudatory of Francis than Hearts of Darkness, and I think this is due to CODA’s function as a promo piece rather than as a retrospective analysis.

Still, fans of Coppola will want to see everything that they can, so enjoy.

A cardboard slipcover accompanies the usual keepcase.

 - David McCoy


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Region 1 - NTSC


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