Apocalypse Now | Key Shots

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  1. Technical reasons may also have played a role in the dark framing of Kurtz in the movie. When Apocalypse Now first came out, I read somewhere that Coppola (who had envisioned Kurtz as a lean mean military type) was upset to find that Brando had become so obese. That’s why he had to be shot in darkness – to conceal what bad physical shape the actor was in. Don’t remember exactly where I read this, or if it was “word of god” from Coppola, himself, but someone wrote it at the time. As I wanted to become a film maker, myself (and did), Reading about such technical problems – and how various Directors overcome them – is something that always fascinates me. I have never forgotten this little tid-bit.

    • Hey, Jerry! I remember hearing that too. It’s one of those things that reminds us that things not going as planned can lead to very awesome choices. But, I have always wondered about that story just due to the fact that the book the movie is based on, Heart of Darkness, puts a ton of emphasis on light and shadow imagery. It’s pretty much on every page of the book and is one of the main things teachers talk about when they teach the book. I find it hard to imagine that Coppola wouldn’t have intended to include a heavy amount of light/dark in the Kurtz sections, regardless of Brando’s weight.

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