“My film is not about Vietnam, it is Vietnam.”—Francis Ford Coppola
Brutal, intense, fascinating, whimsical and yes, even beautiful photographs from behind-the-scenes of Apocalypse Now. As you can tell right off the bat with these images, filming was “Hell on earth.” Dennis Hopper once said of the film, “I felt like I had fought in the war.” The actors and crew battled tropical diseases, monsoons, alcoholism, drug-binges, insects and insanely humid weather. And that’s just the fun stuff.
Death by Films wrote this about the lead actor’s mood during the shooting of Coppala’s war opus:
One day early on, Sheen got completely shitfaced and ordered the crew to film him. He got aggressive, punching out mirrors and even tried to attack Coppola. The director kept rolling, and the footage is now in the scene with Martin Sheen sitting on the edge of his bed.
Martin Sheen has since described the making of Apocalypse Now as “chaos,” and even told friends back home that he genuinely believed he was going to die.
The majority of these photographs, shot in the Philippines, were captured by the celebrated photographer Mary Ellen Mark, who died on May 25, 2015. If you dig these photographs, many of them can be found in Mark’s book Seen Behind the Scene .
Francis Ford Coppola working his movie magic in the Philippines
Francis Ford Coppola and Dennis Hopper
Brando and Coppola
Marlon Brando goofing around
Robert Duvall and Coppola
Photographer Mary Ellen Mark in the Philippines on the set of ‘Apocalypse Now’
Francis Ford Coppola seeking shelter from torrential rain
Marlon Brando with a dragonfly
Dennis Hopper in costume
Brando with a spider on his head