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'I'm not interested in Academy Awards.' Hear newly unearthed audio from 'Apocalypse Now' press conference, 1979

Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola and Carmine Coppola at the Cannes Film Festival opening night of "Apocalypse Now" 1979 ** B.D.M.
Roman Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola and Carmine Coppola at the Cannes Film Festival opening night of "Apocalypse Now" 1979 ** B.D.M.

In 2021, I came into possession of a cassette tape that as far as I know, has gone unheard since 1979. The tape features audio of a press conference following what I believe is the Los Angeles premiere of “Apocalypse Now,” director Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War epic that’s often named one of the best films of all time. "Apocalypse Now" also went through a long, protracted, some might even say cursed production.

The stories are legendary—financed by Coppola himself, the film began shooting in the Philippines in 1976, finally closing shop over a year later, after a destructive typhoon, star Martin Sheen’s heart attack, Marlon Brando’s peculiar on-set methods, cast members on drugs, and an active insurgency in the Philippines that meant pieces of equipment, like helicopters rented from the Philippine government, were sometimes needed for actual combat.

Coppola spent the next few years sorting through miles of footage, and in May, 1979 “Apocalypse Now” premiered at the Cannes Film Festival in an unfinished form. At a press conference following the screening, Coppola famously summarized the filming bluntly:

“We were in the jungle, there were too many of us, we had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane.”

In August, 1979, Coppola premiered “Apocalypse Now” in America in its completed form (that is, until “Redux” in 2001 and “The Final Cut” in 2019). Speculation was rampant in the press about the film itself, what had gone down on set, and what the ending of the movie meant.

Just a quick note about how I obtained this audio. San Antonio film critic Bob Polunsky, whose work appeared for many years in the San Antonio Express-News and on television station WOAI/KMOL, passed away in 2017. In 2021, I spent a few hours at his estate sale, where I bought several DVDs, soundtracks, and a bag of cassette tapes, all audio from his interviews and press conferences like this. The material covers the years 1976-1982. I’ve digitized them all.

In the audio, you’ll hear Francis Ford Coppola and the cast of “Apocalypse Now” speak about the film and its meaning. There are questions for Coppola about possibly directing on Broadway, about working with Brando, and about the potential for "The Godfather Part III," something that wouldn’t see the light of day until 1990. There's an interesting question about the film's parallels with then current events, namely the Jonestown Massacre. And through it all, Dennis Hopper, obviously somewhere on another planet, does his very best to convince the press how great "Apocalypse Now" is. You can listen in the audio player at the top of the page, or using the Soundcloud player below (for ease of scrolling). For those that would like to read along, I've offered my best transcription of the tape below, as well.


[00:00:04] Press announcer Francis Coppola is now walking in...

[00:00:07] Dennis Hopper All right.

[00:00:27] Francis Ford Coppola You want to stand? I'm gonna sit up here.

[00:00:29] Dennis Hopper [inaudible] mic. Like this? Yeah.

[00:00:31] Sam Bottoms Can we put it on?

[00:00:32] Francis Ford Coppola Yeah. Yeah. However...

[00:00:36] Press announcer Francis, will you introduce the stars?

Nathan Cone

[00:00:40] Francis Ford Coppola This is Larry Fishburne, who played the part of Mr. Clean. Sam Bottoms, who was Lance. Albert Hall, who was the chief. Coming in, we have Fred Forrest, who played the Chef, over there with the mustache. Robert Duvall, Col. Kilgore. Dennis Hopper as that [inaudible].

[00:01:23] Dennis Hopper Okay, where's my cameras, man? Where's the [inaudible]? I pointed it at the bald guy, where's this guy...?

[00:01:36] Male reporter Mr. Coppola. May I ask, is this the final cut that we saw last night? And if it is, do you have plans for a sequel with the remaining film?

[00:01:50] Francis Ford Coppola Yeah, of course, it's the... This is, the movie's opening in a few days. And this is the first time that the film can be said to be the finished film. Uh, and there isn't -- the amount of footage shot isn't, doesn't have to do with other sequences or scenes that would make it possible to make a longer film. It just was enormous amounts of coverage, say, of the helicopter battle or of other sequences which were very difficult to shoot. And so we shot a lot of footage, so there would never be any other kind of use of that footage.

[00:02:28] Press announcer Excuse me one minute. As Carl said, everyone will be sent stills. I think it's very distracting while people are talking to be shooting. Could you please hold it? Yeah. Yeah, I must.

[00:02:41] Dennis Hopper What, who would you like me to hold?

[00:02:44] Press announcer Ah, ah....

[00:02:45] Dennis Hopper [unintelligible] sir? You're the director, I mean, I...

[00:02:49] Nancy Anderson Mr. Coppola, I'm Nancy Anderson, Copley News Service. And I know Martin Sheen flew back from the final countdown to have a conference with you a few weeks ago, at least, so he said. Did he request some changes in the film at that time? Did you change the cut? And if so, what changes did you make?

[00:03:07] Francis Ford Coppola No. Marty came back to record the narration, the final narration that you heard, that narration had never appeared in any of the earlier cuts and any changes that were made were made after the Cannes preview, and they were exten-- I mean, each step along the way as the film grew to what it was as a finished film, there were a series of changes made.

[00:03:34] Nancy Anderson Could you elaborate on the changes made to Cannes, though?

[00:03:38] Francis Ford Coppola There are 20-some odd, elaborate changes, I-- it would be hard to do that. I mean, I would just sit here for an hour.

[00:03:46] Dennis Hopper James Joyce I think, uh, made a comment about progress, a work in progress, and I believe that Mr. Coppola...?

[00:03:55] Unidentified Coppola.

[00:04:00] Dennis Hopper The cop out artist, this guy. Yeah, yeah, yeah. Well, he did it right on, and it said that it's a work in progress. And I didn't, I didn't see the Cannes version. But I'll tell you one thing. I loved what I saw last night. They said he would get [inaudible] again. No, no.

[00:04:23] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, I was wondering, there's been a lot written about and discussed about the various endings that were considered to this film. I was wondering if you could debate a little bit for us aloud your your thinking on the ending of the film, what were the options that you saw and how did you come to the conclusion that you did?

[00:04:39] Francis Ford Coppola I mean, a complicated piece of work, an original piece of work that is attempting to make... A film, you know, unlike a genre film, struggles on its way to completion, not just the ending, but the whole, the whole movie. And obviously, the ending is the most important part of any film. And I kept experimenting with the ending because I knew what I wanted the film to feel like at the end. But my previews indicated that the audience was not feeling that. So it was, in my opinion, a design problem. They-- I read how many… how I over-previewed this. I previewed it one night in Minnesota, one night in a slightly different version, the next morning in Atlanta, one night in L.A. and one day at Cannes. And those were the previews. On the basis of the audience reactions and our own kind of evaluation of how an audience reacted, we arrived at the final version, which is now to be shown and seen and reviewed. The reason in terms of the ending, I had hoped to take an audience through an emotional experience, and then at the end, having had them experience or face certain things, give them some degree of relief and relaxation at the end. And this is what I feel this version does.

[00:06:19] Female reporter Mr. Coppola, would you please tell us something about how your own views on the subject of the Vietnam War may have changed in the process of making this film and in the process of making the film. Specifically, since you started out with a John Milius screenplay, I gather there were some differences of thinking and it would be interesting to know some of that that went into that.

[00:06:46] Francis Ford Coppola The only difference is, is that the original screenplay basically did not take the subject matter into a realm that was of interest to me. And starting with that early screenplay... I mean, for example, I mean characters in well, starting with that early screenplay, it was a basic piece of source material, that along with the other source material and my own... just feelings about what I wanted to express, how it evolved to what it is. Really. That's all.

[00:07:26] Male reporter Along that line when when you realize that your film would not be the only one made about Vietnam. Can we assume that there were considerable pressures on your creative process?

[00:07:41] Francis Ford Coppola No, I don't think so at all. I didn't imagine that any of the films that I... any films that I heard were being made, could at all be like the film that I was making, and they weren't.

[00:07:55] Male reporter There's been a lot of talk back and forth about what was the final cost of the film. For the record, how much did the film cost?

[00:08:04] Francis Ford Coppola $31 million dollars...

[00:08:05] Dennis Hopper $68 million dollars. Most expensive film...

[00:08:14] Unidentified [inaudible] someone's gotta pull [inaudible]

[00:08:14] Francis Ford Coppola Well, none of it, and I mean, and all of it. As with so many things, it's a bank loan. I mean, I am the guarantor of the bank loan. But it's not like I had $31 million to write a check.

[00:08:26] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, what is "narration by Michael Herr" mean?

[00:08:30] Francis Ford Coppola It means that at the time that we began to consider to write a narration for the movie, Michael Herr came in and worked with us, worked with myself and the editors. And substantially, although in collaboration with the whole group that was making the film, wrote that narration.

[00:08:46] Male reporter So that that narration is, is the interior monologue of Martin Sheen?

[00:08:51] Francis Ford Coppola Yeah. But, you know, by the time it was done, everyone had had his hand in it, even as with, as was the film...

[00:08:59] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, could you... I'm not clear on the end. Could you tell us what point of view you want the audience to take away from the end?

[00:09:06] Francis Ford Coppola You know, that's the end of my movie, guys. Whatever you took away is what you were supposed to take away.

[00:09:15] Female reporter Here, Mr. Coppola.

[00:09:17] Francis Ford Coppola Yeah.

[00:09:19] Unidentified Move the mic.. [inaudible]. Yeah. Yeah. Thank you.

[00:09:28] Male reporter Mr. Coppola. In Conrad's novel, Sheen's character returns to talk to Kurtz's fiancée. And since that scene is an integral part of the book, was it ever part of the script at any time, or was it in fact filmed?

[00:09:43] Francis Ford Coppola It was never filmed, and--and the book... The film was never meant to be an adaptation of Heart of Darkness. It was... Heart of Darkness is a classic in our culture. And I made use of it. As you know, one would respectfully make use of a classic, but we never attempted to make Heart of Darkness. The premise of the film is so different than Heart of Darkness that we, you know, that would have been another movie adapting Heart of Darkness to Vietnam. And we never thought we were doing that.

Martin Sheen in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).
Courtesy Rialto Pictures.
Martin Sheen in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).

[00:10:14] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, the black and white credit book that we were given indicated that Martin Sheen had he had suffered from heat exhaustion. Where it had been reported that he had had a heart attack. Which is the case? And what the how did that affect the demands of his role or the actual filming from that point?

[00:10:34] Francis Ford Coppola Well, Marty became very, very ill during the shooting, and we lost his collaboration with him for about six, seven weeks, and we waited to be certain that we would get him back. As for what the nature of his illness was like, so many things, these personal things that are kind of put on paper really affects people's lives. And I don't feel it's in my place to say what his illness was.

[00:11:01] Female reporter Mr. Coppola, the film is very much a film about moral ambiguity, and I was wondering if you had given any thought to the moral ambiguity of, for example, moving a primitive tribe into the middle of a 20th century movie set or blowing up all those thousands of gallons of gasoline in a time of severe energy crunch, or using helicopters for a film that were needed for a real war, although I assume you didn't actually have them when they were being used.

[00:11:38] Francis Ford Coppola Well, from the point of view of putting helicopters to other use, I figure I saved the lives of several Muslim insurrectionists, so I feel okay about that. As for the gasoline crisis, we didn't really think about it. I guess three years ago, whenever we did that, there was no gasoline crisis. And as for the Ifugao people, that was one of the highlights of the movie. We really got to know and liked them very much and they got to know and like us. I think my greatest supporters are up in Banaue wondering... They are. They what? Sam, they're sure that Apocalypse has been banned. Because...

[00:12:16] Sam Bottoms You know, when I returned in...

[00:12:18] Francis Ford Coppola He just saw them.

[00:12:19] Sam Bottoms January and February. They they say, "where is Francis? How is he? We're so worried about him. We've heard so much... we've heard so much bad press about Francis. We've heard his movie has been banned from, from the government."

[00:12:34] Francis Ford Coppola The people in Banaue were very worried about us that they read so much bad press and wondered had the movie been banned and what was going on.

[00:12:42] Sam Bottoms But over their concern, they've offered to build your house in Banaue, Francis, and return at any time.

[00:12:48] Francis Ford Coppola They've offered to build me a house in Banaue at any time, and I may take them up it!

[00:12:55] Male reporter Ah, can you see any parallels between the Brando segment of the film and what happened in Guyana?

[00:13:03] Francis Ford Coppola God, when you're working on films, you are always struck by how... what the material you've been working with seems to reflect. I mean, I am always feeling that we were working on The Rain People and all of a sudden people started to be talking about something known as women's liberation. We said, "My God, we're ahead of our time." And on The Conversation we were making it and there was the Watergate break in. And with Apocalypse, I guess if you're dealing with films about the themes of the day, it is impossible not to have these coincidences.

[00:13:37] Press announcer One moment, please, since we're having a problem with the sound, I'll ask the photographers to please go in the back. Let's not snap any more pictures.

[00:13:45] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, why did you not detail the end of the, uh the film with the buffalo in the ritual? We had heard about how, you know, they pampered [it] for three or four days... like there was you know, there's obviously a similarity between Brando and the buffalo as you detail it, but we don't really learn about that. The animal they sacrifice. So did you originally have that in the film?

[00:14:11] Francis Ford Coppola In shooting these people, the Ifugao, we did shoot material on a lot of their rituals and we did have some footage in which Dennis tells about the ritual. And just in the final cut, we felt that the animal could... stood very clearly as a figure of sacrifice and that that, you know, that would not fit with the balance of of the ending. Can I just can I answer like one more question and then kind of open it up? I feel dumb here. I'm doing all the talking. Dennis wants to talk and he's got a lot to say.

[00:14:45] Dennis Hopper I got so much to say!

[00:14:47] Francis Ford Coppola What? How. How's the best to do that? Should I answer like a couple more questions then we can open it up?

[00:14:50] Dennis Hopper I think the movie's great... [inaudible] six months... [inaudible]

[00:14:51] Francis Ford Coppola Mr. Coppola?

[00:14:52] Francis Ford Coppola Yeah.

[00:14:53] Female reporter Uh, there...

[00:14:55] Unidentified [To Dennis] Shut up.

[00:14:55] Female reporter There was a report that your wife is making a documentary film about the movie-making.

[00:15:00] Dennis Hopper He's not married! [press laughter]

[00:15:00] Female reporter Is that film going to be... [more press laughter]

[00:15:02] Dennis Hopper God almighty!

[00:15:02] Female reporter Is that film going to be released?

[00:15:10] Francis Ford Coppola She shot a lot of documentary material while we were making the film and she's editing it now.

[00:15:14] Female reporter Thank you.

[00:15:17] Male reporter Was there ever a point during the filming when you had a tremor of fear that you would never going to finish it?

[00:15:23] Francis Ford Coppola Oh, many times. Many times, many times for many different reasons. It was always you know, there was... Of course.

[00:15:37] Dennis Hopper [inaudible] all over the film. For how long it takes...

[00:15:39] Male reporter Do you still hold to your quote that the American press is the most lying, decadent form of press in the country? And if you do, how can you square that with soirees like this today?

[00:15:55] Dennis Hopper Did you see that? [inaudible].

[00:15:56] Francis Ford Coppola Look... when I was making the picture, I felt that the press took a lot of unfair and unjustified shots at me and in Cannes maybe I took an unfair and unjustified shot at the press. So I'd like to be even.

[00:16:13] Male reporter With all you went through to make this film and with all the years and all the information that has come down to the press as to how long it took you to make this film, but the real journey you took in making it, is this the picture you set out to make? Do you feel I mean, or is this the picture that that you wanted to make?

[00:16:32] Francis Ford Coppola That's like saying, is that the journey you wanted to take? I...

[00:16:35] Male reporter How do you feel about that journey now?

[00:16:39] Francis Ford Coppola My sincere opinion is that the picture is much more beautiful than I ever could have imagined.

[00:16:44] Dennis Hopper Me too. Be in, like, you know, I like them even.

[00:16:47] Francis Ford Coppola And I've been around the movie business a long time.

[00:16:49] Female reporter And I have two questions, if I may. Who actually owns the television rights to the.. To sell the film? And also, you've been quoted as saying that if the film did 25 to 30 million domestically, it would pay for itself down the line, which is considering its cost unusually low, indicating you had great greater faith in international sales. And I wonder, why....

[00:17:11] Francis Ford Coppola I mean, people toss around those numbers as to how films come out. But you have to realize that a motion picture is like a skyscraper, it's a piece of real estate. If you own a piece of the profits, it's sort of like owning the apples rather than the tree. If you truly own the real estate in motion picture business, since it has life over a period of time, even though doing, say, domestic, $20 or $30 million dollars wouldn't bail the film out financially at that moment, $30 million dollars is a lot of money for a picture to gross. $20 million is a lot of money, period. And when you consider all the many value-- the value in a motion picture over the years and in the many forms of distribution, that's a piece of collateral that you could ultimately make, you know, a $30 million. You have to realize a $30 million film is and isn't an expensive film anymore. It's there are a lot of $30 million films that have been made in the last couple of years and even more that are going to be made this year. Our company owns the entire movie.

[00:18:20] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, you passed a milestone birthday. And I'd like to know if you think of this film as a milestone in your life, and how did this film change you as an artist and as a person? And perhaps everyone could respond to that, to the last part of that question.

[00:18:38] Francis Ford Coppola Well, that let this be my last before we open this up. The film changed me in that now I'm done with, I think, easy, predictable projects and I look forward to some really difficult stuff in the future. [press laughter]

[00:19:00] Male reporter Mr. Coppola? I want to ask please... Are you designing the advertising campaign for Apocalypse Now?

[00:19:09] Francis Ford Coppola Like everything in Apocalypse Now, it was a colossal collaboration. Lots of people were involved.

[00:19:17] Male reporter Well, can you tell me what your concept is for promoting the film to the American public?

[00:19:24] Francis Ford Coppola I don't know how to do that. I mean, it's a big campaign. I mean, the way we are presenting the film, I think is the way we are presenting the film. I don't know that we're trying to psyche them out or something.

[00:19:33] Male reporter No, I'm just wondering if there's anything you wanted to stress.

[00:19:36] Francis Ford Coppola We're trying to stress the film as a... as a... as a piece of work that that's something of an event. A film like this doesn't come out very often, and we would like them to think of it. That's why the film has no credits and has a program and what have you. It's giving them something for their money.

[00:19:54] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, as far as the commercial success of your film is concerned, are you worried about the fact that there may be Vietnam burnout on the part of the American public?

[00:20:06] Francis Ford Coppola What do you think, Bob?

[00:20:08] Robert Duvall Well, there's only been two or three films on it, plus the actual war itself. I don't know. I don't think so. No, I don't I don't think it is... burnout, that.

[00:20:19] Male reporter Mr. Duvall.

[00:20:22] Francis Ford Coppola There's never been a movie like this, you know... I would go see it!

[00:20:30] Dennis Hopper Could I say something? [inaudible] No? Okay. My director. Oh, you know, it's the best film I've ever seen on the Vietnam War, but like, you know, besides Gone With the Wind, I mean, what are we talking about here?

[00:20:45] Francis Ford Coppola Was that on the Vietnam War? [press laughter]

[00:20:51] Dennis Hopper Well, remember when they burnt down Atlanta?

[00:20:51] Francis Ford Coppola Atlanta?

[00:20:51] Male reporter Mr. Duvall?

[00:20:51] Dennis Hopper I saw the film last night, you know and I well and I think it's one of the best films I've ever seen, period. Period. But Mr. Hopper doesn't exist. Excuse me.

Robert Duvall in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).
Courtesy Rialto Pictures.
Robert Duvall in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).

[00:21:11] Male reporter Mr. Duvall, when you arrived to begin filming your part, did you have a clear cut concept of how Colonel Kilgore was going to turn out? Or was the part strengthened and improvised as a filming process?

[00:21:28] Robert Duvall Well, no. Like I always like to work in, Francis had assigned various military advisers for different for different people in the movie, for different sections of, you know, departmental eyes, different sections of the army, so to speak. And I had a guy from... had been a helicopter pilot in Vietnam, Dick White, and he helped inform me and help me with my research versus the Ninth Air Cavalry, which was... Which was a new type of warfare that had the French introduced, I think, over there, which was warfare by helicopter. I had a, I had to do a lot of research, had to improvise a lot, and I had to get him to help me design a uniform, because I think they got rid of that uh, that wardrobe guy because he didn't know what he was doing! So, you know, I had a technical advisor help me with everything. And then Francis and I talked about it and we go from there. I worked four or five times with Francis. So now we, you know, we, we get along all right.

[00:22:29] Male reporter Mr. Duvall, Mr. Duvall, on the uh, to follow it up a little bit. Your role more than any other in the film, it seems to me, came very close but didn't go over into satire. Was it difficult for you to hold the line on reality there because your character was a real character?

[00:22:45] Robert Duvall Well, any part I try to do, see I think that word 'style' is misused. You say, well, to learn about 'style' acting. You got to go to England, which I think is a lot of baloney. I think that any style is personal, and I think every part you do, you got to play as if it's another section of yourself, another facet of yourself. So I find in myself which is, which is big and which is to the point of being [inaudible], but is still, to me, real. It has to be, I feel.

[00:23:17] Male reporter Mr. Duvall, in the production notes, you had said that you really did not see your character as either a Patton or a Custer. How-- how was your character different from those two?

[00:23:27] Robert Duvall I really can't hear you.

[00:23:28] Male reporter Oh, in the production notes, you had said that you really didn't see your character as either a Patton or a Custer. How was your character different?

[00:23:35] Robert Duvall I said that? [laughter] When did I say that? A Patton or a Custer? I don't remember. I don't remember saying those words. Maybe I did! These kinds of soldiers were sanctioned in the last century of the Seventh Cavalry was in the last century. And these guys pattern themselves after the Seventh Cavalry. They actually wore spurs, those kinds of hats and flown helicopters and were very vicious soldiers, as I understand it.

[00:24:07] Francis Ford Coppola At some point.

[00:24:09] Robert Duvall First of the 9th, air cavalry...

[00:24:12] Francis Ford Coppola ...Doing this to carry a skull every where he had...

[00:24:14] Robert Duvall Some of it was patterned somewhat on the book 'Soldier' by Anthony Herbert, and also he was very controversial and somewhat put out of the Army. I'd seen him on many talk shows. He was a very fascinating guy. There was a guy over there, Joe Lowery, that actually served under him. So I got, you know, certain information from those people.

[00:24:35] Male reporter Mr. Hopper... Mr. Hopper, could you compare the point of view about the Vietnam War between Tracks and Apocalypse Now?

[00:24:47] Dennis Hopper Just this this [inaudible],.

[00:24:57] Unidentified Just relax. Tracks, the movie..

[00:24:57] Dennis Hopper I just wondered who had the copyright rather than the patent. No. Yeah. Well, there's no compar-- listen, I saw a movie last night that I'm very happy to say, I think is one of the great.

[00:25:12] Male reporter Was it better than Easy Rider?

[00:25:15] Dennis Hopper Yes, it was.

[00:25:16] Unidentified Oh, I don't know about that.

[00:25:20] Dennis Hopper But what's the question? What's so funny? I saw a movie last night that I'm happy to say is one of the greatest movies I've ever seen. Period. Now you want to ask me another question?

Marlon Brando in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).
Courtesy Rialto Pictures.
Marlon Brando in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).

[00:25:34] Female reporter No, I'd like to ask Mr. Coppola a question, please. I asked someone last night why we saw so little of Brando and he was so much in the dark. And I was told that it was because he was so overweight. Do you wish to comment on that, please?

[00:25:46] Dennis Hopper Do I wish to comment on that? [laughter]

[00:25:48] Female reporter No, Mr. Coppola.

[00:25:50] Dennis Hopper Well, I do eat a lot of ice cream, too, you know! Like, I tell you... don't you like his voice? Oh, he's great in the movie. Come on! Marlon Brando's great, come on! The movie. Don't get me started. The movie is great. It's a great movie. No, no, I'm sorry! Yeah. And now that they give me the microphone, I'd like to speak! It's the greatest movie I've ever seen! All right, but since he's the director, it is. It is a great movie, come on! See how much applause I got out of that?

[00:26:24] Francis Ford Coppola And as you know, Kurtz was always a tricky character. He's... I realized the Kurtz in Heart of Darkness, you know, was sliced razor thin. You build up a lot of anticipation about Kurtz. And then when you actually get there, you just see a few things. You hear a few things. He is literally a figure in the dark. And Marlon and I went through that prototype real carefully. And I remember he once said to me, he says, look at he says, "This guy, Kurtz, he is not a man. He's something this big and I'm something this big. So the only way we can get a handle on this guy is to just give them little aspects of him. Let, let Kurtz remain a mystery. And it is mine." In the Conrad Kurtz, you recall that they talked about how "and then he talked for hours," you know, but Conrad never tells you what he said, which was one of the things we sat around up there scratching our heads, figuring what does, in fact, Kurtz say, what can live up to the anticipation and the theatrical use of of light and dark and just a little bit of uh, of Brando was trying artfully to find just enough to give of him without making it overstated and just, you know, to keep the mystery.

[00:27:49] Female reporter Mr. Coppola, in line with that, much has been said about Marlon Brando's improvisation on that set. Did he improvise the gardenia speech?

[00:28:01] Francis Ford Coppola The way we worked was that Marlon and I would talk about the material and we would tape record it, and then I would take it back and I would type from the tape recordings of what we had talked about in his hotel room or what have you. And through a process of elimination, the interesting ideas would stay in. And so that I would the... The gardenia imagery did come from Marlon, though it was not improvised at that second. It was something we talked about earlier.

[00:28:34] Male reporter Mr. Hall? First of all, have you read the of the story on which the film is based, Heart of Darkness?

[00:28:40] Albert Hall No, I haven't.

[00:28:41] Male reporter Because in the novella of sort of, I guess, what would be the equivalent of the character you play, dies fairly much in the way that you die. And I as I recall during the Vietnam War, there was a great deal of talk about the infinite percentages of Blacks who are getting killed. I was wondering, were you thinking about that while you did the role, the fact that, you know, they would much like the character was treated as the noble savage who could be depended on in Conrad's book, The Black soldier during Vietnam was sort of always getting the shit assignments.

[00:29:19] Albert Hall No, I was not.

[00:29:22] Male reporter Oh, thank you. [press laughter]

[00:29:24] Male reporter Mr. Coppola. I was. Two questions. Can you explain your distribution strategy on this? Like when it will get to small towns and will you, will all your showings have no credits and have programs even out beyond New York?

[00:29:40] Francis Ford Coppola No, in the uh... did the sound sound good in the theater? [applause] The 70 mm performance we tried to make as much like a concert performance as possible with a good sound. And you know, I as a moviegoer always felt, you know, why do I have to have a commercial put up? Why do I have to have words printed up? Why can't I just see the work read at my leisure? You know, that's why we did it. In the 35 Dolby, which will not be quad like you heard it, but will be stereo. There will be credits on it and the credits will be on the end and they're real beautiful. The 35s have a different ending because they have the explosions that people kept asking me about. [incredulous murmuring]

[00:30:30] Male reporter Mr. Coppola?

[00:30:37] Francis Ford Coppola See it, see it when it comes to you. [laughter] It's real nice.

[00:30:41] Male reporter Mr. Coppola? Since, since you didn't actually fight in Vietnam yourself, on what basis did you arrive at getting a texture for the battle sequences? Specifically, I'm talking about the helicopter sequence.

[00:30:53] Francis Ford Coppola Same way Bobby was talking, in the same way we did it on The Godfather, or anything, is that there's a phase when you're making a big picture where you go very heavily into research, and that comprises looking at film, hearing, becoming associated with people who did have firsthand experience and really studying the pictures. And that's what I do in any picture.

[00:31:14] Male reporter Francis, was that a facetious remark, is the 35 going to have the blowing up of the the sanctuary or are you kidding?

[00:31:22] Francis Ford Coppola The title sequence on the 35 version, since they cannot go out without titles, is made out of some infrared footage that we shot. Really beautiful stuff and that's very appropriate. As if the film had to have a title sequence. That's the way it should be.

[00:31:40] Male reporter Where is that set.

[00:31:41] Francis Ford Coppola It's at the end. But it doesn't alter... In other words, it's... it doesn't make a story point.

[00:31:46] Male reporter Infrared footage of what?

[00:31:48] Francis Ford Coppola Of uh... of um... see it, you know?

[00:31:56] Female reporter Oh, come on!

[00:31:56] Francis Ford Coppola You want to know what that version is going to be like.

[00:31:59] Male reporter Can't we find out since we didn't see it? That's what the whole country's going to see!

[00:32:03] Francis Ford Coppola Well I assume that... Okay, it's a, it's just the title sequence made up of, of explosions. It's just as the film opens with explosions as a metaphoric kind of imagery, we, we, we made a title sequence out of napalm and, and this kind of imagery.

[00:32:22] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, during the last minutes of work on this film, I understand you were also helping out on Hide in Plain Sight, James Caan's movie. There's one story that you're were unable to help it. What stage is that movie in and were you able to help the editing on that? And why? Why is that taking so much time to come out?

[00:32:40] Francis Ford Coppola Where do these things come from? [sighs] Hide in Plain Sight is a really nice little film, a really good— I shouldn't say little— a really interesting, serious film. And I was able help out. [AUDIO CUTS OUT] The whole Kurtz compound. Whenever Willard looked at that head, that head is always that kind of godhead. Stone head of of above Kurtz I mean, what. Kurtz is what Kurtz is moving. Those are the principles that are with us for eternity that will never change.

[00:33:18] Female reporter Mr. Coppola, would you make some predictions for Academy Award nominations?

[00:33:22] Francis Ford Coppola I'm not interested in Academy Awards. I have a lot of them.

[00:33:27] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, could you tell me, were you comfortable with your wife's rather frank journal of the shooting?

[00:33:33] Francis Ford Coppola You know, that's my business.

[00:33:36] Nancy Anderson Okay. I have a question for Mr. Duvall and one for Mr. Bottoms. Most of the people, assuming your father has seen all the military men you played, which are several. Which one did he like best or enjoy most? And my question for Mr. Bottoms, so you can know what I'm going to ask you on two occasions, various of your brothers have said your family is thinking of putting together a picture about the Kennedy brothers using all the Bottoms brothers. So Mr. Duvall, I wonder if that's coming along okay.

[00:34:05] Robert Duvall Well, obviously, my father's favorite my favorite portrayal would be when I played Dwight Eisenhower, because my father was a professional military man and was in on the North African campaign and that that obviously would be his favorite. He hasn't seen this film, and I suppose he will eventually. I did another film called The Great Santini that he thought was all right, but I think his cup of tea would be Eisenhower because he my dad looks a little like him!

[00:34:35] Nancy Anderson Has Santini been released yet, by the way?

[00:34:36] Robert Duvall No, I think in October or something like that.

[00:34:40] Nancy Anderson Mr. Bottoms, about the Kennedy film you may be doing are you doing it.

[00:34:43] Sam Bottoms I have no I have no comment on that, because there's nothing happening in that.

[00:34:46] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, could you explain why you decided to use a narration rather than to show what was happening?

[00:34:58] Francis Ford Coppola Yeah, it was always it was in the concept from even when it was earlier versions of the script. And pretty much the the notion of this kind of experiential film that has a protagonist who is mainly a witness rather than a active character you're watching. We always plan to let you understand how he thought about things from a narration.

[00:35:24] Female reporter I'd like to ask Mr. Forrest, Mr. Hall, Mr. Bottoms and Mr. Fishburne whether you were sensitive to the soldiers you were playing in, that soldiers in Vietnam have either been portrayed as bad guys or, or good guys. And in Apocalypse Now there was more of a balance there than than for instance, in Deer Hunter, where they were good guys and the Vietnamese were the barbarians. As the filming went along, were you conscious of of being human beings, or were you conscious of trying to play them one way or another as you got a little bit more historical going up the river?

[00:36:03] Albert Hall Can we go across?

[00:36:04] Female reporter Sure.

[00:36:07] Albert Hall We settled on being a family and we wanted to create a feeling of love among us, which we all had and was easily to do. And we accomplished that. And having that, we just floated through it. And I don't think on my part I wasn't too much of thinking of any other kind of thing aside for moment to moment realities. But we created that family feeling and that carried us through the movie.

[00:36:36] Sam Bottoms How many veterans are there in this room? Vietnam veterans? Yes. So they're they're all they're everywhere. You know, and we made this movie for them. The survivors. They're all survivors, even even the ones that died. They're still with us. And how can you tell all the stories? How can you tell everyone's story? We just had to take bits from everybody, everything we would hear. And we made it a family because a military is a family.

Laurence Fishburne in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).
Courtesy Rialto Pictures
Laurence Fishburne in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).

[00:37:10] Laurence Fishburne Francis told us when we was in... What village were we at? Baler? Yeah, well, we was in this place and we had been there for about three, three months. And so Francis told us that we had got our characters and that all we had to do was not to act because he was going to make it real for us. In the meantime, we had to be a family. Like Albert said, he was family anyway because we always hung out and we had this guy who was a he was on one of the boats that we are on. We play a PBR crew and like Sam said, you can't tell all the stories, but this cat did everything that he could to tell us all the stories that he could tell us. And so from that, we just did what we did.

[00:37:59] Francis Ford Coppola He was 14 when I cast him! During the course of the movie...

[00:38:06] Sam Bottoms You lied about your age.

[00:38:06] Laurence Fishburne Yup!

[00:38:06] Sam Bottoms I mean, as many people do!

[00:38:09] Laurence Fishburne Told I was 16...

[00:38:10] Sam Bottoms How many 14 year olds were there in Vietnam? Nobody knows. There could have been a whole bunch of 'em.

[00:38:17] Francis Ford Coppola Could we hear from Mr. Forrest, I'm interested in...

[00:38:18] Frederic Forrest Oh, I never thought about it in that way. What'd you say, a good person, bad? They're all human beings. So I never thought of it that way. I mean, you just played the person. Good, bad. Everything. I never thought of em as good guys and bad guys.

[00:38:33] Robert Duvall Did you learn how to cook better?

[00:38:35] Frederic Forrest I tried.

[00:38:37] Francis Ford Coppola To speak French.

[00:38:40] Frederic Forrest Tried that one too! Didn't quite work out.

[00:38:41] Dennis Hopper I love the French sequence, that's one thing I wanted to talk about was the French sequence.

[00:38:45] Frederic Forrest Yeah we had a good French sequence!

[00:38:45] Dennis Hopper The cuisine was fantastic.

[00:38:50] Robert Duvall That was a terrific steak sauce. You put on that steak, it was your own dad's sauce, wasn't it?

[00:38:55] Frederic Forrest Yeah, it was terrific.

[00:38:58] Dennis Hopper Finger stew, we called it.

[00:39:00] Female reporter Is it implied or indicated in the 35 millimeter version that Willard gives orders for Kurtz's compound to be blown up? And that's what the explosion is, in fact?

[00:39:11] Francis Ford Coppola No, if I'm at all reticent about the look of it, it's because it's it's new. We just did it. I'm very pleased with it. But we used material that was shot during the blowing up of the temple, and we used it as a graphic sequence for the for the titles. But the the the point of whether he allows them to blow up the temple is not altered. It's that is a denouement that is more of a fantasy than anything, just like the opening of the picture.

[00:39:37] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, in retrospect, when you see your film is, as essentially about not only about the Vietnamese war, about what about all wars as far as the you know, the barbarity, the general immorality? Or do you specifically want us to see this as a story about the Vietnamese war?

[00:39:56] Francis Ford Coppola Well, I think the style of the movie makes it clear that it's trying to rise out of this particular war into that to the bigger subject matter.

[00:40:07] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, could you did this film make? What kind of impact did it make on your life personally? Do you feel differently now that it's over?

[00:40:20] Francis Ford Coppola It was a real experience. I mean, it was the kind of experience that people go through, different people. Some people...I'm on a particular, as you can imagine thing after all these years of being really offended by having my personal life spread out like some sheet of butter about whether I'm nuts or I wasn't or I did this, it's real... It really has had a profound effect on me and I would imagine I will be a much shyer person in the future because I didn't know quite-- yes, it had a gigantic effect on me at certain, certain times it scared me to death to be in the situation that I found myself and... But having gone through that, I feel that the things I will tackle in the future will be all the more unorthodox and all the more ambitious. I don't think I could go back to doing some kind of genre piece that I feel I have in the bag. I guess at this point I don't know how to do a thing that isn't going to be a big adventure.

[00:41:25] Female reporter To the gentlemen who were on the boat, Mr. Forrest, and the rest. There were lots of stories that we read about how terrible it was being on the set and being in the boat. And other actors said, Gee, I'm glad I'm not making that movie because so many months were spent during the production. And I just wondered whether you people could talk about some of the struggles, the physical struggles, being on that location and I suppose going through that typhoon or whatever it was, and whether you ever lost hope.

[00:42:03] Francis Ford Coppola Tell him about Gumby.

[00:42:04] Frederic Forrest Yeah, the tiger, Gumby. There were a lot of, I don't know, a lot of difficult times...

[00:42:18] Female reporter Could you give us an anecdote?

[00:42:18] Frederic Forrest I don't know. It was all pretty, pretty grim, I don't know, I can't...

[00:42:25] Robert Duvall Weren't there some people you approached for certain parts that refused the parts because they did want to film in the Philippines? I mean, I won't mention they just didn't want to be there for an extended period of time?

[00:42:37] Frederic Forrest Oh.

[00:42:38] Francis Ford Coppola Sure. Actors when actors, especially the actors who are in demand, consider a part when they look at it and you see that you're going to have to be in the jungle for half a year. They really.. That's a real factor. And there were a number of people who didn't want to come with us on that, you know, doesn't reflect well on them.

[00:42:59] Sam Bottoms It is the Navy and the Navy in reality is somewhat of a volunteer system. And working on a PBR boat is volunteer. So I think we all knew that once we were there, there was no turning back, you know, this was it. Right. So accept it as it is. I believe that the typhoon, the typhoon. Well, that brought us together more than ever. You know how it is.

[00:43:27] Francis Ford Coppola Tell him about the time I flew the helicopter.

[00:43:29] Sam Bottoms And we fell through the trees.

[00:43:30] Laurence Fishburne This guy man, he learned how to fly a helicopter in Philippines, right? He gets up in the helicopter. I never been in helicopter before. I was 14 years old, I got off the plane, I was from Brooklyn, all right? Him and his wife. His wife says, "Come on, get in the helicopter. It's going to be nice." How come the doors are so thin? No you know, the doors is all right. Everything's okay. Get up in the helicopter. The helicopter gets off maybe ten feet off the ground, and I'm going "whoopee, all right. I'm flying!" Yeah, you know, dig it. Okay. I've been in helicopters a little while now, and he's flying the helicopter. You know how to fly helicopter? Yeah I know how to fly a helicopter. Watch this, Imma turn off the motor. What are you doing? Turn off the motor. Turn off the motor, but the blades still kept going, you know? So that was nice. And my mother freaked out after she heard about that. And like, a lot of stuff happened. Like, my mom's just there with my stepfather, and there was one time when they had this typhoon or something, and this.. They got they had a whole bunch of people in an airplane and like a DC-10 or something, right? So they were at this military base in Subic Bay and the control tower wouldn't give them permission to take off. So the pilot said, I'm going to take off anyway. So he got up in the air and he was climbing and climbing and climbing and climbing and climbing. And the plane did a 75 foot drop, boom, and rose up again. My mom's is in the helicopter--I mean, the plane. And I was in a helicopter with this guy, Dick White, because we had to go shoot on a set that had been rained out by the typhoon because he wanted to shoot on it, he thought it looked real, but we wound up not using it anyway. But it was one of the best one of the best things in the movie. It was really like it was a lot of relief. You know, it brought down the tensions because.

[00:45:09] Francis Ford Coppola This whole set was destroyed in this type of the typhoon hit on all in two main areas, both of which we had these gigantic sets. So they destroyed. So I, I decided that, oh, it was a gift from God and that we should shoot in the rain. So we in this storm, we were ferried by helicopter three at a time across the chasms of roads that had been turned into rivers. And so we all got to this place, which was just an incredible field of mud. And the whole crew and all the people reconstructed the set in the rain. And the, the boat that is in the movie had been about 50 feet up, had been taken out of the river. And we made little like locks like a canal and floated it a foot at a time and got it back in the water, and we, and we shot that's not in the movie, but we shot it. And then we said, forget it, and we wrapped! And we went home for four, three weeks or whatever that was.

[00:46:05] Laurence Fishburne It was hard, but it was fun.

[00:46:06] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, how many hours of film did you actually make to draw this two and a half hours of the idea?

[00:46:15] Francis Ford Coppola It's hard to say. You see, let's take the helicopter battle to shoot a scene like that. That's a really hard kind of scene to shoot and to shoot that. You got a lot of cameras, maybe nine cameras, I don't remember, maybe more, all over the place, some in helicopters, some on the ground, hidden. And since you are putting into play of many elements like ten, fifteen helicopters, explosions, extras, it's so hard to set that up that you just roll. You just roll all the cameras. And when you're finished, you roll a little longer to make sure that if something's going to blow up at the last minute, you have it on film because it only matters what you have on film. Well, as a result, the film from nine cameras, when you send it into the lab, of course you must print all of it because no one knew what they got. And you do that every day. You really shoot a lot of film. So a lot of the excess time and footage will be like, you look for 2 hours, it's just some dumb thing happening. So that's why I mean, it's not as though there are many, many scenes that didn't get in. In terms of amount of footage, I don't know. But it was a lot. It was, do you know, Tom? 1,000,001 feet of film. That's Godfather Two, I shot 300...

[00:47:23] Dennis Hopper Maybe 680 hours. I mean...

[00:47:26] Francis Ford Coppola I don't know. I don't know. They can tell you.

[00:47:29] Male reporter Godfather was how much?

[00:47:31] Francis Ford Coppola Godfather Two was about 300,000. But it was what you know what it is. It's all the special effects and the like. You'll work in the jungle for whatever it is, two months to build something. When you finally got it, you really want to make sure you have it on film. Because it's been such an effort to construct.

[00:47:47] Male reporter I'm still a little bit unclear about the your method for choosing the ending. Obviously you had filmed several while you still...

[00:47:55] Francis Ford Coppola No, not alternate endings, but this is a misconception that has been created elsewhere, n--not from me that the truth of the matter is that whenever you make a film, you, in the material, can see three or four endings. Very often it's not an ending you intended to be the ending, but it sort of leaps out at you and says, this would be a good ending. So my method of choosing the ending was my method of making the film. It's, you know, I mean, it's odd for you to ask me that. That's my piece of work. That's my ending. I chose it on that basis. What I thought was the fitting ending for the film I imagined.

[00:48:35] Male reporter At that on that point in, Cannes... you...

[00:48:39] Francis Ford Coppola Can I just say to that, is that I feel like the whole issue of the ending was something constructed by someone other than me. It's a little offensive to me to come in with a movie I worked on for five years, to already have had people debating the so-called problem ending because the ending is ambitious or unusual, and I think it's real prejudicial. And one of the reasons why I feel uncomfortable with just the way the whole film has been handled, this is the ending.

[00:49:07] Male reporter Well you have sort of invite some of that by handing out a questionnaire that said, "This is my invitation to help you complete my film."

[00:49:13] Francis Ford Coppola I-- the reason this whole preview thing happened is because when I first wanted to preview this picture, like I've been doing for ten years-- it's time to get me off, guys! I had a deal with people say, "Well, what should we do? Should we hire 22 security guards or some stringer in Minnesota who won't sell it and be printed in in Mademoiselle Magazine, unfinished?" I said, no, I'm not going to hire guards. We're not in the police business here. You know, let's ask people courteously, we're working on a tough movie. Can we please make it and finish it in some degree of privacy so we can offer it to you? And it got to the point where it were, no, that wasn't going to work. So we just opened it. We said, okay, we're previewing, if you want, I will go right to Los Angeles. And if you want to come in and do your thing to us, if you have that little consideration, come and do it. You know, if you can't wait for the film, you know. So my invitation opening it is what I do. I did it on Godfather. I did on Godfather Two. It did on The Conversation. I don't think it's an unprofessional thing to do. It's really essential. The movie, as it showed the other night, is different than it was in Cannes. It wasn't a publicity stunt.

[00:50:17] Male reporter Excuse me. I didn't get to ask the question. I didn't mean to imply that there was any stunt involved. In fact, I was very, very interested. You had two endings in Cannes. And you you know, you described the two at the press conference. In fact, I think you were you characterized one as slightly more, slightly closer to Conrad, the other one, perhaps a little more optimistic. And you seemed to have opted for that.

[00:50:43] Francis Ford Coppola It was it was the degree to which you let the movie go on. In other words, do you cut it off here? Well, remember Charlie Bubbles, the movie? Remember how great that was he looks and he sees the balloon. And I used I sat in the theater. I said, "This is the end! This is the end, Here, end it, end it," and he did. But I betcha there was more that they had shot, you know, I mean, that was such a beautiful ending, I thought. So very often when you're making a movie, you see it and it's a little earlier than maybe you thought and just cut it off there, you know? And that's sort of what we went through.

[00:51:14] Male reporter Anyway. I of course you realize that this ending is...

[00:51:17] Dennis Hopper Can I say one thing? James Joyce, James Joyce that work in progress.

[00:51:21] Male reporter I can't compete with James Joyce.

[00:51:22] Dennis Hopper A work in progress? I believe it's what you called it in Cannes wasn't it? A work in progress? All right, that's a James Joycean term...

[00:51:29] Francis Ford Coppola Yeah, It wasn't done. Nor is he! [laughs]

[00:51:30] Dennis Hopper Well but it wasn't. But it was called...

[00:51:34] Francis Ford Coppola He's right in the middle of a sentence.

[00:51:35] Dennis Hopper But it was called a work in progress, wasn't it?

[00:51:36] Male reporter No, no, let's, let's end it there. But in Cannes, you talked a little bit about your next project, the the Japanese... Can I describe it as the Japanese project?

[00:51:48] Francis Ford Coppola It's not it's it's it's something that would take me so long to do and would take such resources to do that. It's one of the things in my head I don't have any project. I'm an unemployed director.

[00:51:59] Male reporter It's become a little more distant in the last few months.

[00:52:03] Francis Ford Coppola I don't know. You know, I've never had a vacation in my life, and maybe I just thought I'd, you know, just go slow and not have a project in my mind, if I'm capable of that.

[00:52:12] Male reporter But was there a script, in fact, this love story that you...

[00:52:15] Francis Ford Coppola No, it's from the Goethe "Elective Affinities," and it's but it's like Apocalypse in that although it's relevant to to a piece of work, it goes on its own and it would be a very long movie. And there isn't even an exhibition situation available yet that you can show, you know, that kind of a movie.

[00:52:34] Male reporter But by the way, I don't think the question was asked in Cannes but there was a film made by Gianni Amico. Yeah. Have you seen that?

[00:52:41] Francis Ford Coppola Yes. Yeah. That is a real adaptation of Elective Affinities in its period in its place. And I'm more interested with the principles that Goethe was working with rather than his....

[00:52:52] Male reporter A variation on the theme rather than a...

[00:52:52] Francis Ford Coppola Yeah, it's, it's my elective affinities.

[00:52:55] Male reporter Are you still working Hitler, or planning on doing a Hitler project?

[00:52:59] Francis Ford Coppola Yeah, very successfully. We sold out days and days in L.A. and that's a seven hour movie that people went to and gave their whole day to. Really good movie. And I think we're going to do it in New York next.

[00:53:13] Male reporter Hello. Defenders of The Deer Hunter say rather cagily, I think, that the movie is not really about Vietnam, that the film is a metaphor. And I wonder how what you think about your film in those terms, and if you would talk specifically for a few minutes about how the film is about Vietnam and then how it goes beyond Vietnam. But stay on the Vietnam subject.

[00:53:36] Francis Ford Coppola I don't have an opinion. I really don't. I don't know. I've worked on it for five years. I think it's real clear what the movie is. It's a little you know, it's right up there.

[00:53:47] Male reporter You really do have an opinion though, obviously. You know...

[00:53:50] Francis Ford Coppola My movie is my opinion! About what, whether it's about Vietnam? How could you ask me that? You just saw it. It's about Vietnam, and it's also about all sorts of themes beyond.

[00:54:02] Male reporter It's not a statement about Vietnam. It's an abstract... It's about war, it doesn't mean anything.

[00:54:08] Francis Ford Coppola You know? I tell you something. They asked me to write a statement on the program about it was about a week and a half ago and I said, I don't want to write a statement on the program. "Oh, it'd be good. Blah, blah, blah, blah." Every day they'd come and say, "Printing deadline is four days, you've got to write something." Finally, very reluctantly, I sat down and write a statement, and then I was real sad that I had done it because I have said everything I got to say about the mov-- right there. You know, it's there's a lot in that and I don't know how to write an essay on it. I mean, I'm not being cute. I just I'm so sick of the movie, as you can imagine that. I mean, I can tell you how I felt about this or that, but you know what the film really accomplishes. Maybe the filmmaker's the last one to know.

[00:54:51] Male reporter Can I ask you, since you spent five years and all this money and all this talent and, you know, I think it's your best thing and a lot of people in here probably do. Do you think that's gonna be a problem for you? Do you think that you'll never make anything this good again? Or will that be in the back of your mind?

[00:55:06] Francis Ford Coppola You know, thank you for your encouragement [inaudible]. The movies that I want to make in the future are so unlike anything I've even thought about making or anything that's ever been made that my biggest hope now is that I can figure out how to mount the resources that it would that that it would take Apocalypse Now compared to what I'm thinking for say Elective Affin--it makes it look like you're a big boy now.

[00:55:33] Male reporter But this you're going to have to shoot higher than this from now on.

[00:55:37] Francis Ford Coppola Not higher. I mean, I'm my feeling about Apocalypse is I was involved... One of the things, you know, they always say it, but this was one incredible collaboration of people. If you meet the Apocalypse Now people and this cast is here, I'm this is the thing I'm most proud of. You meet the technicians that did this and that created some stuff that's never been done in movies. They really we really worked on it together, you know, and that team could go on and do other, other projects, not only with me as a director.

[00:56:05] Male reporter Was Brando part of that team, too?

[00:56:07] Francis Ford Coppola I would say Brando really contributed in its own eccentric way. He's an incredible man. He's a really intelligent man. He's totally eccentric. But he makes it... You can engage him if he... His great thing is that he hates baloney, which he thinks most everything is, you know, and if you can engage him, if he thinks you're trying to do something a little different or a little humanistic, he'll, he'll jump in in his way and contribute. He contributed a lot on the picture. You know, he's always portrayed as the guy who's real fat and everything. His weight is an agony to him. He he he he doesn't he really he doesn't want to be heavy, you know, and he's not heavy now.

[00:56:49] Robert Duvall Why doesn't he lose it? [press laughter]

[00:56:51] Francis Ford Coppola You know, it's like it's like it's like it's just like anyone with a weakness. I mean, he has a weakness that, you know, other people have a weakness with other things. He really struggles with it. But, you know, he's spoiled, and at any rate… he's a great man.

Marlon Brando in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).
Courtesy Rialto Pictures
Marlon Brando in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).

[00:57:08] Press announcer Questions for five more minutes, five more minutes.

[00:57:11] Male reporter Aside from the obvious correspondences between them, how much and which which major scenes were based on specific incidents, for example, the water skiing? Was there a Kurtz? What did you know about that happened specifically that were found its way into the film?

[00:57:26] Francis Ford Coppola Well, to my knowledge, all those eccentricities, the yellow hats and the death cards, the writing on and psychedelic decorations on the helicopters, the water skiing, the kind of supermarket, what is that place called again? PX. These were all based on real elements. The drugs, of course, I, we didn't play the drugs up very high because we wanted the whole sensibility of the movie to have that rather than showing guys all the time.

[00:57:57] Male reporter I have a question for Dennis Hopper. While watching the film last night... Martin Sheen has been compared a number of times to James Dean. But while watching the film last night, I really had the very strong impression that if James Dean hadn't died when he did and if he'd gone on to college, the kind of aura we might get from would be like what we got from Sheen last night. I wanted to ask Dennis Hopper, who made a couple of films with Dean, if he gets that impression of Martin Sheen, that similarity to Dean or not, and what it's like to play a scene with Sheen as compared to playing one with James Dean?

[00:58:32] Dennis Hopper I think I think of Martin Sheen as uh, as uh, as uh, Alan Ladd in Shane.

[00:58:44] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, you you mentioned that you devoted five years of your life and a great time and energy on this. And you're proud of your cast and technicians. How do you cope with the, what you what you would feel would be antagonistic criticism of your film from the various critics around the country. How do you react to that?

[00:59:04] Francis Ford Coppola Well, I, I react very hostilely to two things. One is that I never had a picture that received the notices in Europe that this picture did in Paris and in Europe in general and in East Europe. I never had a success like that. When I came home, I saw that whatever had been relayed of that were the few qualified-- in other words, it was sort of like, Well, Francis went there and sort of got some unfavorable notices and incidentally won, shared the prize. So I felt... I started to feel as though it.. Really someone wanted it to come out that way because anyone who goes and gets a collection, say, of the French press would really be edified at the difference between what it was there and how it was expressed here. When then I started to notice that national reviews of the movie were being published in magazines that were going to be on the newsstand all month. And obviously, since this print got here two days ago, reviewed by people who hadn't seen the film, I just felt, that's not fair. It's not fair. And that's sort of my reaction is basically it was some of those things I haven't seen. I don't think the picture should be nor has it been really reviewed. And where it has is just people trying to capitalize on the real interest in the picture to, you know, I don't know. I don't know what they did it?

[01:00:37] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, are you still involved with Wim Wenders on a film project? And can you explain a little bit about that, what that project entails?

[01:00:43] Francis Ford Coppola Wim Wenders is going to direct a film called Hammett in Los Angeles. It's sort of a it's it's a kind of it's an unusual film in that it takes the the imagination of the author Hamlet and shows him sort of in a world similar to that of the genre that he created. It's sort of a perennial thing of look inside the guy's head. And outside of it, he was a detective at one point in his life.

[01:01:17] Nancy Anderson Or was it Badlands or was it Martin Sheen's television work or a combination of all that convinced you he'd be right for this part? And also, how far into the picture were you or at what point did he take it? Was there any way you could have replaced him if you'd had to do it?

[01:01:34] Francis Ford Coppola I knew Marty from years before when he worked in New York, and I saw him in a film called The Incident, and I had been kind of interested in him for a while. And he's really one of the nicest people on Earth. Martin Sheen, and everyone who knows him really is happy working with him. And the second question was what, again.

[01:01:54] Nancy Anderson You know, how far were you?

[01:01:56] Francis Ford Coppola About three weeks. Three weeks.

[01:01:58] Nancy Anderson When he took ill.

[01:01:59] Francis Ford Coppola Oh when he took ill? God, we were three quarters through the picture. And had that illness been really serious, there would have been no way to finish the picture other than with stills or something. And we were... We did we did not know that he would survive.

[01:02:13] Nancy Anderson There was no particular event such as your helicopter piloting, or anything that brought it on, I mean...

[01:02:19] Francis Ford Coppola My helicopter piloting was excellent.

[01:02:25] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, it's, it's over. And regardless, anything that anybody in this room has to say, you must realize you create a great cinematic event. [applause] But. Have you have any regrets at all over spending five years of your life on one film, no matter how great it is?

[01:02:49] Francis Ford Coppola No, no.

[01:02:49] Dennis Hopper All right.

[01:02:53] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, there seem to be certain operatic touches to what you do. Have you ever considered going all out and doing an operatic film and just go for broke on it?

[01:03:02] Francis Ford Coppola It's coming!

[01:03:05] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, are you going to direct the Broadway show with Frank Langella and Jason Robards?

[01:03:08] Francis Ford Coppola What's it called?

[01:03:12] Male reporter This is something in Marilyn Beck's column.

[01:03:16] Francis Ford Coppola Uh, if that's what I think it is, there is a good playwright and they said that, you know, when the work was done, they would show me a script. I don't know that cast. So I don't identify it. But it could be the same thing.

[01:03:31] Male reporter Mr. Coppola, when you appeared on the Academy Awards show, you made a statement about various new electronic developments that was going that were going to revolutionize the industry and the way we perceive film.

[01:03:43] Francis Ford Coppola Industry in the world.

[01:03:45] Male reporter Yes, industry in the world. They're always interrelated. [press laughs] And then at Cannes, you were interviewed you're interviewed in Cannes and you said you said certain things about the sound and the video in this film saying that not the video, the sound in the picture in this film saying this film was edited on a video deck. You can feel it. You can smell it. Would you care to elaborate about some of the techniques you used in?

[01:04:04] Francis Ford Coppola Well, the entire film was sketched out first on an electronic editing machine, which my company built. And I think the I think that made certain choices, certain fluid choices. The use of the opticals have a video sensibility to them.

[01:04:24] Male reporter The dissolves in this film are much different than other dissolves in movies. Is that specifically because of the video dynam...?

[01:04:29] Francis Ford Coppola Yeah. Yeah, because the film was usually you make a film, you cut it together and then you think, oh, I want an optical here or a dissolve or what have you, and you do it. Whereas this, those opticals were actually knitted into the film at its inception. And I think the, the, the use of sound in this film is just that it's real, real, real, super high quality. Quadrophonic sound with, with pains taken, both in the electronic part and in the artistic part that, you know, that make it a really ambitious soundtrack. But the other things I'm talking about are things that relate to the future of what media will be like.

[01:05:11] Male reporter But what was the extent of your [inaudible] in the musical score of the film?

[01:05:16] Francis Ford Coppola I was a collaborator.

[01:05:17] Male reporter I mean, what did that what did that entail in terms of you were designing the...

[01:05:22] Francis Ford Coppola Well, to explain how the music was written with you are basically my dad who wrote the flute music for Eugene O'Neill's The Rope, which I directed when I was 15 and a half, has been a collaborator of mine for all my life. And and I really, you know, he worked on Godfather. And we have a screwy way of working where he is, of course, an incredible musician and fine orchestrator and composer. And I kind of we just worked together very closely. And, you know, he's a man, 69 years old, and we kind of do it together.

[01:05:55] Male reporter And you made the decision, it was you made the decision to do the score more in tonalities than in, say, abstract score.

[01:06:03] Francis Ford Coppola Abstract, abstract, yeah.

[01:06:05] Male reporter Yeah. Mr. Coppola, considering that you've been bitching about the critics talking about the film in Europe and it's an incomplete film, are you not ashamed to have picked up that award at the Cannes Film Festival?

[01:06:19] Francis Ford Coppola I have nothing against the administration of the Cannes Film Festival. To my knowledge, the press did not... You know, I did get an award from the French press, Actually. No, I'm not talking about that. I am talking about really simple. I'm a theater person. And, you know, when everyone says they're not going to review and publish the film, my impression is it's good manners not to review and publish published the review, that's all.

[01:06:44] Male reporter [inaudible] unfinished film...

[01:06:44] Francis Ford Coppola I entered it as an unfinished film to the Cannes Film Festival as a work in progress. They accepted it under those terms....

[01:06:51] Dennis Hopper Excuse me work in progress....

[01:06:51] Francis Ford Coppola And that was, that was the opening deal. I'm not complaining about what people wrote about it after Cannes. I'm talking about what people wrote and published as the finished review. There are reviews in magazines right now that do not say "I saw this because I went to, unauthorized, I went into to a screening two and a half, three months ago in Westwood." And so the review you're reading is... I mean, you know, how different the film in Westwood was to what we showed tonight? How would you feel? I mean, if you're working on this thing and you're really earnest about I mean, I'm not kidding. I'm not doing a scam. And then all of a sudden I have to have that in a magazine. I mean, doesn't mean anything, but it gets you, it gets you upset. So my bitching, as you say, I feel, is just how I feel. They all told me to shut up when I came in here.

[01:07:44] Press announcer Gentleman in the back.

[01:07:44] Male reporter Change the subject just briefly.

[01:07:45] Dennis Hopper Can I say one thing? I saw the film for the second time. I saw it maybe six months ago, and I saw it last night. I want to tell you something. It's a great movie! [press laughter]

[01:07:55] Male reporter Mr. Coppola..

[01:07:58] Dennis Hopper No, I don't know. I don't really care what anybody says about it. It's a great movie! [inaudible] ok movie...

[01:08:03] Male reporter I'd like to change the subject, just one last question.

[01:08:06] Dennis Hopper Yeah, but I'm still talking. I think it was a great movie. I was moved. I was, I was really, really, really impressed. And I was really moved. It wasn't because I was in it. I was really moved.

[01:08:21] Male reporter I think the public feels and certainly the critics did, because I think it turned up as the number one film on a number of polls of the last films, great films the last ten years, The Godfather, two films, both films put together an immense body of work. I assume that you have had your final say on that, but Paramount rumors continue floating around that they're going to do a Godfather Three. How do you feel about that? And are you at all interested in it or have you finished the story? Do you want to? Do you have any more elaboration on a continuation of that film? And how would you feel if someone else took it over now?

[01:08:54] Francis Ford Coppola Yeah, they do have someone developing a script.

[01:08:59] Press announcer Thank you, ladies and gentlemen. [applause].

[01:09:32] [audience murmuring, at this point the press conference breaks up into individual conversations, snatches of which are captured on the tape]

At this point, you can hear that the press conference has finished, but Bob Polunsky kept his tape recorder rolling as stars and press milled about the room. My favorite part of this segment is when Dennis Hopper tells Nancy Anderson of Copley News Service about why he can’t hang around any longer...

Dennis Hopper in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).
Courtesy Rialto Pictures
Dennis Hopper in Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW: FINAL CUT (1979).

[01:09:51] Unidentified Hey, hey, hey.

[01:10:00] Unidentified I know you're right. Me, but I didn't mean for… 20 years ago.

[01:10:52] Dennis Hopper He doesn't work bad with anybody. This man is one of the best directors in the world. He works with people!

[01:10:59] Female reporter I was so glad about the Alan Ladd, I was really glad to hear that.

[01:11:03] Dennis Hopper Alan Ladd wasn't a bad guy!

[01:11:09] Dennis Hopper Yeah, see it again, I want to see it again.

[01:11:11] Nancy Anderson Dennis, are you going to be around here for a minute? I want to talk with you.

[01:11:14] Dennis Hopper I'm sorry. I'm not going to be. I have to go fly an, catch an airplane. I have to go… something like Guatemala.

[01:11:19] Nancy Anderson What’re you going to Guatemala for?

[01:11:22] Dennis Hopper Well, because of the revolution down there, and I'm involved in those kind of things... I'm a photo news journalist, and I... [inaudible]

[01:11:25] Female reporter That's not my area.

[01:11:28] Dennis Hopper I'm a photo news journalist, and I [inaudible] right down there...

[01:11:31] Female reporter I enjoyed the performance.

[01:11:33] Dennis Hopper Okay.

[01:11:35] Francis Ford Coppola I just said, hey, you want to do it? He said, no, I'm not gonna do it. Then I said, All right, I'll do it.

[01:11:42] Male reporter I want to say I enjoyed your movie.

[01:11:45] Francis Ford Coppola Oh thank you.

[01:11:45] Male reporter I think really...

[01:11:45] Francis Ford Coppola It's unusual!

[01:11:48] Male reporter Yeah!

[01:11:48] Francis Ford Coppola You don't see 'em every week.

[01:11:51] Male reporter Really powerful. Very strong.

[01:12:01] Francis Ford Coppola Thank you.

[01:12:06] Francis Ford Coppola I found that out from one of the other guys. You know, I'm sort of involved in the thing but I'm not at this point...

[01:12:14] Francis Ford Coppola [inaudible]

[01:12:26] Francis Ford Coppola The idea of having the flames at the end and the 35 is pressure for them. Yeah, but what so often happens is that someone maybe prods you to do something you don't want to do. And then when you go in and do it, I mean, I saw the title sequence yesterday and now I'm saying, god, I wish I had it in a 70mm. It's so, it's really beautiful. It's totally, and the music for it. You look at it like it is for five minutes, whatever it is and you just get hypnotized. All infrared film. It's really beautiful.

[01:12:59] Francis Ford Coppola [inaudible]

[01:12:59] Francis Ford Coppola That's what I was trying to tell ‘em...

[01:13:10] Unidentified [inaudible]

[01:13:15] Francis Ford Coppola The collaborators. If you look in the program notes, all those guys that, you know, have pictures and they really this isn't a one man operation. It's like it's the technical aspects. And the artistic aspects really get spread out a bunch, a lot of people and we have some good people who work on that.

[01:13:32] Male reporter [inaudible] take a break from, the final decision is yours.

[01:13:35] Francis Ford Coppola I have been very involved, I'm very interested in the future, kind of what the future of how movies and not only movies, but television can be made, and I you know I what that guy was talking about is I really do sense major revolution in the way motion pictures are made in the technology and in the controls of who controls them, what areas they can even dream about. You know, you realize that most filmmakers are like in there and they're told if they can write, you know, here is Jack, here is Jill. Jill likes Jack. That's the, that's how much you're allowed to work with in motion pictures, which is a form that you could do anything. You could make 16-hour movies that would work, that people would just go for the weekend and just be in a nice place and see 3 hours at a time where you could... You could do anything! And we're not allowed to do what even-- even what everyone is expected that you're supposed to make a movie a certain way. You got to root for the characters. You got to crank up to a big finale and you got to have a clear denoument that everyone has seen before. That's why so many people, even they don't know. It's why innovative work is always difficult until, you know, a couple of years later and they say, oh boy, that's... Movies can be that! So in answer to your question that the areas that I have been putting my time in have been for the way we... I want to run a movie studio. I want to have, we want to have our own movie studio.

[01:15:07] Male reporter You mean you make pictures to suit yourself?

[01:15:13] Francis Ford Coppola No, I make films for my audiences, but I always want to give the audience the best that can be and not just constantly serve them up the same plate of food warmed up in a microwave oven in every time.

[01:15:24] Male reporter Doesn't the audience want to have a character to root for?

[01:15:27] Francis Ford Coppola Having a character to root for emotionally is a very important part of many movies. But, you know, there's many ways to do it. And if you say that all films must have a principal character, you know, I mean, to the extent even in this movie, there's a protagonist going up... But that kind of thinking is the thinking of studio heads and a lot of movies you would never get if you just adhered to that to that rule.

[01:15:50] Female reporter I was in Cuba last year, and your version of the Cuban Revolution was praised by the people. They admired it very much. Have they seen Apocalypse Now? I know you've given them a print.

[01:16:01] Francis Ford Coppola No I haven't given them a print, but I will as soon as we have a Spanish subtitle.

[01:16:05] Female reporter Okay. That's right. There's been some talk about that going there.

[01:16:09] Francis Ford Coppola And still it's going to go to a lot, a lot of different places, festival, foreign...

[01:16:15] Male reporter You mentioned you'd like have your own studio eventually you like if you had that, would you change anything in terms of there's a lot of people who are eager, like young people who can't afford film school or things like that, where there's the idea of the energy to get into the industry and they just can't, you know how it's been, right?

[01:16:30] Francis Ford Coppola Well, I think, again, my company has always really gotten a lot of people in. We've introduced a lot of new directors and I think we continue to do that.

[01:16:40] Male reporter [inaudible] Zemeckis in regards so would you say would you say that this is because you have sort of had that sort of clique? You, Speilberg, Lucas, and Milius...?

[01:16:52] Francis Ford Coppola I've… it's not been that one clique. I mean, it's Zoetrope, our little company in San Francisco, we started a lot of people and not just Lucas. And now otherwise we're going to have a film in two months by a guy named Caroll Ballard, that's a terrific movie, really a good movie, called The Black Stallion. So, I mean, I think that's part of the tradition of a healthy place. It's got people coming in. So, I mean, he asked me what I do to get off Apocalypse. And I've been working a lot in like technology and stuff and a way to handle it.

[01:17:32] Male reporter [inaudible] the first scenes where the helicopters are subject to, you know, helicopter warfare. I'm sort of like drifter species from space, something weird. So it's a very strange. [inaudible]

[01:17:43] Francis Ford Coppola That's why we did that sequence where they came up and the music was all dreamy. It was like, that's another aspect. You know, a way I made this movie, I tell you, in my own mind, I had a list of things that I thought made the Vietnam War unusual. You know, it was, you know, the use of helicopters, the use of drugs, [inaudible] guys who were up in the front lines, the fact that they were all so young, so on. I had a list of hundreds of things and whenever I was making the film, I always said, Well, how can I include that idea, so that at the end the movie would have many of these aspects, you know, would show all the things that made Vietnam different than any other. And that's… that's how it was made.

[01:18:30] Male reporter The government gave you no help for this as far as military hardware.

[01:18:33] Francis Ford Coppola Nothing.

[01:18:33] Male reporter Suppose someone at the studio said to you make a couple of changes, make the guys in the Pentagon happy…

[01:18:41] Francis Ford Coppola How could you make the guys... you never make the guys at...the guys at the Pentagon are a bunch of guys that didn't like Mickey Mouse when they were kids!

[01:18:48] Male reporter You wouldn't have.

[01:18:49] Female reporter red nightmare. [END OF TAPE]

And that’s where the tape ends. Thanks for entering into the Wayback Machine with me, and enjoying this bit of film history sourced from the archives of the late San Antonio film critic Bob Polunsky.