Shooting Upstream

Apocalypse Now arrived in theaters 33 years ago last week. Dan Colman revisits the hellish production:

The making of Apocalypse Now is a legendary tale. Shot in the Philippines in 1976, the production ran into immediate problems. After only two weeks, Coppola fired Harvey Keitel, the lead actor, and replaced him with Martin Sheen, who stumbled into chaos upon his arrival. As biographer Robert Sellers noted in The Independent, "Coppola was writing the movie as he went along and firing personnel, people were coming down with varioustropical diseases and the helicopters used in the combat sequences were constantly recalled by President Marcos to fight his own war against anti-government rebels." And things only got worse from there.

Marlon Brando showed up enormously overweight and not knowing his lines. Then, during the difficult filming, Sheen suffered a heart attack, and Coppola himself had a seizure and eventually a nervous breakdown, apparently threatening to commit suicide on several occasions.

Anisse Gross spoke to Coppola about his new film, TWIXT, and his return to a more student-oriented style of filmmaking:

Beginning in reverse, the self-financing forces the budget to be limited and there’s no producer, distributor, or financier to weigh in with; the personal focus means in the end I might learn something about myself; and having to write an original story means that I won’t take the shortcut of starting with a book or otherwise adapting anything someone else worked out.