Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBBB
USA, 1979. Zoetrope Studios. Screenplay by Francis Ford Coppola, John Milius, narration by Michael Herr, based on the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Cinematography by Vittorio Storaro. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola. Music by Carmine Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola. Production Design by Dean Tavoularis. Costume Design by Charles E. James. Film Editing by Lisa Fruchtman, Gerald B. Greenberg, Walter Murch.
Fascinating, colourful and completely disturbing adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness, featuring some of the best camera work of the seventies by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. Director Francis Ford Coppola moves the original period and setting of the novel to the Vietnam war, with Martin Sheen taking a long trip down a river to find an army leader (Marlon Brando) who has cut himself off from regular communication with his base commanders.
Brando doesn’t show up until the end of the film, but when he does he gives a bone-chilling performance, as does Robert Duvall as a gung ho captain who very famously loves the smell of napalm in the morning. Once you’ve watched this brilliant film, go and rent Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper and Eleanor Coppola’s excellent documentary Hearts of Darkness for a great look at the making of one of the most plagued film shoots in movie history. A four hour cut of the film won the Palme D’Or at Cannes as a work in progress (and the “Redux” version is now available for viewing).
Academy Awards: Best Cinematography; Best Sound
Nominations: Best Picture; Best Supporting Actor (Robert Duvall); Best Director (Francis Ford Coppola); Best Adapted Screenplay; Best Art Direction; Best Film Editing
Cannes Film Festival Award: Palme D’Or (tie)
Golden Globe Awards: Best Supporting Actor (Robert Duvall); Best Director (Francis Ford Coppola); Best Original Score
Nominations: Best Picture-Drama