Thursday, 5 March 2015

Heart of Darkness

On this day, March 5th 1977 the future of Apocalypse Now was hanging in the balance. Martin Sheen, the film’s lead actor suffered a heart attack which threatened to permanently shut down production of the film in the Philippines. Coppola and his family had arrived Manila just over a year before, with principal photography starting soon afterwards. The loss of Martin Sheen would have been catastrophic to Coppola’s already troubled epic – a devastating typhoon had destroyed Dean Tavoularis’ elaborate and expensive sets, effectively halting the production, and sending the budget rapidly soaring beyond United Artists’ initial investment. And now Coppola was facing into replacing his leading actor (for the second time) and re-shooting months of footage for a film that he had yet to devise an ending for. According to the film’s documentarian Eleanor Coppola a local priest had administered the last rights to Martin Sheen but fortunately Sheen’s heart attack was less severe than initially believed and the actor was able to re-join the production just six weeks later to complete principle photography.

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