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Critics consider "Apocalypse Now" one of the best of America's cinematic explorations of the Vietnam War, and certainly one of Francis Ford Coppola's finest hours. It's generally ranked just below the "Godfather" trilogy in Coppola's film canon.

And the many legendary horror stories about the trials and tribulations of making "Apocalypse Now" are historical lore among movie buffs.But for the real scoop, one really should see "Hearts of Darkness," a new documentary culled from 60 hours of footage shot by Coppola's wife Eleanor during the making of the epic film in 1978, along with more recent interviews.

"Hearts of Darkness" will be presented Friday, March 27, by the Utah Film and Video Center. It will be shown in the Salt Lake Art Center auditorium, 20 S. West Temple, at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $5; students and seniors are $3.

A compelling companion piece to "Apocalypse Now," "Hearts of Darkness" is even more horrifying, since everything we see is real. And the film is remarkable for its candor - Francis Coppola is hardly whitewashed in this look at one of the most tumultuous film sets in the history of the motion picture industry.

The unrelenting series of disasters that plagued location shooting in the Philippines, keeping it in a virtually constant state of upheaval, range from monsoons destroying expensive sets to star Martin Sheen suffering a heart attack from the stress and strain of the production.

Then there were the screenwriting delays, last-minute scene changes and alterations, and the now notorious arrival of overweight, bald Marlon Brando on the set, forcing the ending of the film to be changed, along with his own dialogue.

At the heart of all this is Coppola himself, ranting and raving like a lunatic, contemplating suicide, ridiculously lauding his own film as a masterpiece and yet expressing fears that the movie will be an incomprehensible mess.

Recent interviews with Sheen, Dennis Hopper, Francis and Eleanor Coppola and others help shed light on the events that surrounded and shrouded "Apocalypse Now," putting them in perspective.

For film buffs, "Hearts of Darkness" is certainly a must. For others, it's a harrowing wild ride that rivals "Apocalypse Now" in its cinematic impact.

"Hearts of Darkness" is rated R for profanity and violence.