a story lives forever
Sign in
Form submission failed!

Stay signed in

Recover your password?
Form submission failed!

Web of Stories Ltd would like to keep you informed about our products and services.

Please tick here if you would like us to keep you informed about our products and services.

I have read and accepted the Terms & Conditions.

Please note: Your email and any private information provided at registration will not be passed on to other individuals or organisations without your specific approval.

Video URL

You must be registered to use this feature. Sign in or register.


Writing The Black Stallion script


Apocalypse Now: The idea for a 'gutless', simple film
Walter Murch Film-maker
Comments (0) Please sign in or register to add comments

At the end of Godfather II which was sometime in December of '74, we were having a post-mortem meeting at Zoetrope, which was, 'Well, that was interesting. That worked, how could we have made this better', and just an evaluation of all of the work that had gone on over the last six months. And at one point Francis [Ford Coppola] said, 'You know, I'm tired. On every film I make it's as if I have to reach down into my guts, my personal life, pull out my guts, hack away at them in full view of the audience, then stitch them together and stuff them back inside.' 'And for just once', he said, 'I'd like to make a simple film, maybe an action film. Has lots of action in it, and to have three bankable and compliant stars that would do what I want. And I can sit in the director's chair like ordinary directors do and say: bring on the helicopters, action, and cut, and go home at night and not worry about the film.' Then he said, 'I think I'll make Apocalypse Now.' And that was the start in early 1975 of his decision to make Apocalypse Now, which ironically given the history of the film was originally conceived as a simple film, an action film set somewhere in the world in a jungle environment yet to be determined with three bankable stars. The film eventually came out in 1979, four plus years later. And a tremendous amount of angst and trouble, probably more than any other film that Francis made. So it's 'watch out for what you wish for', I guess.

Born in 1943 in New York City, Murch graduated from the University of Southern California's School of Cinema-Television. His career stretches back to 1969 and includes work on Apocalypse Now, The Godfather I, II, and III, American Graffiti, The Conversation, and The English Patient. He has been referred to as 'the most respected film editor and sound designer in modern cinema.' In a career that spans over 40 years, Murch is perhaps best known for his collaborations with Francis Ford Coppola, beginning in 1969 with The Rain People. After working with George Lucas on THX 1138 (1971), which he co-wrote, and American Graffiti (1973), Murch returned to Coppola in 1974 for The Conversation, resulting in his first Academy Award nomination. Murch's pioneering achievements were acknowledged by Coppola in his follow-up film, the 1979 Palme d'Or winner Apocalypse Now, for which Murch was granted, in what is seen as a film-history first, the screen credit 'Sound Designer.' Murch has been nominated for nine Academy Awards and has won three, for best sound on Apocalypse Now (for which he and his collaborators devised the now-standard 5.1 sound format), and achieving an unprecedented double when he won both Best Film Editing and Best Sound for his work on The English Patient. Murch’s contributions to film reconstruction include 2001's Apocalypse Now: Redux and the 1998 re-edit of Orson Welles's Touch of Evil. He is also the director and co-writer of Return to Oz (1985). In 1995, Murch published a book on film editing, In the Blink of an Eye: A Perspective on Film Editing, in which he urges editors to prioritise emotion.

Listeners: Christopher Sykes

Christopher Sykes is an independent documentary producer who has made a number of films about science and scientists for BBC TV, Channel Four, and PBS.

Tags: 1975, Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola

Duration: 2 minutes, 22 seconds

Date story recorded: April 2016

Date story went live: 01 March 2017