Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 wartime masterpiece Apocalypse Now is a cult classic in every sense. In fact, some would argue the film is remembered as feverishly for its behind-the-scenes chaos as it is for its quality and cultural importance.
From the way Marlon Brando rocked up on day one, overweight and without any lines committed to memory, to Martin Sheen’s heart attack and complete post-shoot breakdown, the production of the film mirrored the plot’s descent in an eerily similar fashion.
What most wouldn’t know is that the soundtrack you hear in the final cut wasn’t the first commissioned.
Relish in the fever dream of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now with the lost soundtrack, composed by synth enthusiast David Shire.
Best known for his work on Saturday Night Fever, The Taking of Pelham One Two Three and Return to Oz, David Shire was the composer originally asked to score Apocalypse Now.
After a year working on the soundtrack and almost zero communication with Coppola, who was filming overseas, Shire was asked to score Norma Rae. He took the offer, and when Coppola found out he was moonlighting, Shire was fired.
It’s a much more synth-heavy take than the score which shipped with the film, and definitely makes you wonder for what could have been.
Listen to the unused soundtrack below.
David Shire’s Apocalypse Now is now available via La-La Land Records/American Zoetrope.