The posting of this just-released Apocalypse Now Bluray trailer affords an opportunity to bitch about a clear lack of interest on the part of Francis Coppola‘s Zoetrope as well as Paramount Home Video (which sub-licensed the AN elements to Lionsgate for the Bluray) in presenting George Hickenlooper and Fax Bahr‘s Hearts of Darkness, an award-winning 1991 documentary about the making of Apocalypse Now, in a respectful fashion within the three-disc AN “Full Disclosure” package.
It’s great that HOD is being included, mind, but it’s not going to look all that terrific, apparently, because it appears — emphasis on that word — that Paramount Home Video provided the same one-inch tape master that was used for the 2007 DVD, which looked so-so at best but could have looked better if the HOD negative had been digitally scanned.
It’s allegedly stated on the Apocalypse Now Bluray website that “original elements” were used in creating an HD master of Hearts of Darkness. The wording of this term seems needlessly vague and is probably misleading. I haven’t been able to persuade anyone from Lionsgate, American Zoetrope or Paramount Home Video to be more specific.
It makes basic visual sense to use higher-grade elements for a Bluray rendering, but apparently nobody wanted to spend the $10 grand (more?) it would have cost to scan the HOD negative. This is understandable from a nickel-and-dime perspective, but disrespectful to perhaps the best making-of documentary ever made. It is certainly the most intimate look at the travails of an anguished big-budget filmmaker ever seen. What’s right is right. Hearts of Darkness isn’t an EPK reel — it’s a highly revered film with its own legend.
It’s already been discussed how Paramount and/or Lionsgate had no interest in including a commentary track from Hickenlooper/Bahr on the HOD Bluray. Hickenlooper told me this morning he’s planning to record a commentary but lacks the geek expertise to do it correctly himself. If anyone in Los Angeles can lend a hand (i.e., provide a recording opportunity, edit the commentary, upload the master), please get in touch.
Late last month I spent too many hours emailing and calling people at Zoetrope, Lionsgate and Paramount Home Video to ask about if better HOD materials had been used for the Bluray, or not. I got totally stonewalled and shilly-shallied by everyone I wrote and spoke to. To this day nobody has ever confirmed or denied that the one-inch tape used for the 2007 DVD was used or not. Despite repeated requests Zoetrope attorney George Hayum wouldn’t even tell me if access to the HOD negative had been requested by Paramount Home Video. It was ridiculous.
It seems to me that this lack of interest and respect originates with Coppola, who owns the Hearts of Darkness elements. Hickenlooper has long believed that Coppola is fundamentally uncomfortable with the doc. “I think it makes him feel as if somebody had rummaged through his underwear drawer,” Hickenlooper says.
Coppola was willing to permit the release of the 2007 HOD DVD, yes, but that, Hickenlooper believes, was primarily a ruse to get promotional materials sent out for his then-upcoming Youth Without Youth and a doc that Eleanor Coppola, his wife, made about the filming of YWY, called Coda.