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Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier (Apocalypse Now / Apocalypse Now Redux)
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In the tradition of such obsessively driven directors as Erich von Stroheim and Werner Herzog, Francis Ford Coppola approached the production of Apocalypse Now as if it were his own epic mission into the heart of darkness. On location in the storm-ravaged Philippines, he quite literally went mad as the project threatened to devour him in a vortex of creative despair, but from this insanity came one of the greatest films ever made. It began as a John Milius screenplay, transposing Joseph Conrad's classic story "Heart of Darkness" into the horrors of the Vietnam War, following a battle-weary Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) on a secret upriver mission to find and execute the renegade Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has reverted to a state of murderous and mystical insanity. The journey is fraught with danger involving wartime action on epic and intimate scales. One measure of the film's awesome visceral impact is the number of sequences, images, and lines of dialogue that have literally burned themselves into our cinematic consciousness, from the Wagnerian strike of helicopter gunships on a Vietnamese village to the brutal murder of stowaways on a peasant sampan and the unflinching fearlessness of the surfing warrior Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall), who speaks lovingly of "the smell of napalm in the morning." Like Herzog's Aguirre: The Wrath of God, this film is the product of genius cast into a pit of hell and emerging, phoenix-like, in triumph. Coppola's obsession (effectively detailed in the riveting documentary Hearts of Darkness, directed by Coppola's wife, Eleanor) informs every scene and every frame, and the result is a film for the ages. --Jeff Shannon
Apocalypse Now Redux
Digitally remastered with 49 minutes of previously unseen footage, Apocalypse Now Redux is the reference standard of Francis Coppola's 1979 epic. A metaphorical hallucination of the Vietnam War, the film was reconstructed by Coppola and editor Walter Murch to enrich themes and clarify the ending. On that basis Redux is a qualified success, more coherent than the original while inviting the same accusations of directorial excess. The restored "French plantation" sequence adds ghostly resonance to the war's absurdity, and Willard's theft of Colonel Kurtz's beloved surfboard adds welcomed humor to the film's nightmarish upriver journey. An encounter with Playboy Playmates seems superfluous compared to the enhanced interplay between Willard and his ill-fated boat crew, but compensation arrives in the hellish Kurtz compound, where Willard's mission--and the performances of Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando--reach even greater heights of insanity, thus validating Redux as the rightful heir to Coppola's triumphantly rampant ambition. --Jeff Shannon
Top Customer Reviews
What gets me is that, in the press releases that came out with Redux, Coppola claimed that he no longer considered the 1979 version of Apocalypse to be "unusual." He felt that, today, it comes off as a rather ordinary film. So he integrated an extra 50 minutes into the movie, to make it more unusual. The thing is, the Redux is, if anything, MORE normal than the original. After all, you get more character development, a romantic subplot, etc; all the things the unusual (and unique), original version lacked. The very lack of these things is what gives the original such a mysterious, dangerous edge. There is no levity in the original, no stealing of surfboards, no Playmates for the PBR crew. Only the dark jungle, and the mission.
If it's true that Coppola wanted to make the original version even more unusual, then I wonder why he chose to add the Plantation sequence and the Playboy Bunnies escapade.Read more ›
There have been countless books, websites, and even a documentary (Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse) about this film that it seems almost pointless to write about it. One of the most troubled productions in film history, the film went on to recieve universal acclaim and is now a cinema classic.
For those of you getting into this film for the first time, do not expect your typical vietnam war film. In fact you could argue that the film is not really about the Vietnam War, but is instead about man's descent into "the heart of darkness" if you will. The film follows Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen)who is given a mission to proceed up river into Cambodia to assassinate a Green Beret Colonel (Marlon Brando) who has gone insane.
That is the basic story of the film. But, it is much more than that. The movie is essential one sureal moment after another. From a helicopter attack done to the tune of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", to surfing calvary men, to the much debated ending.
If there ever was a film that must be experienced just once in your life this is it.
The Video 5/5
The film was shot in the scope widesceen format of 2:35:1, but is present here (as with other DVD versions) at a slightly cropped 2:00:1 format. This decision (made by Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro) has caused much controversy over the years, and while I would love to see it in it's original format this version doesn't bother me.
That being said this is the best I've ever seen Apocalypse Now look. The colors are much more vivid and flesh tones are more realistic. For a film that was released in 1979 it stands right up there with any modern blockbuster. Each film is spread across two discs for higher picture quality.Read more ›
The basic story flows vividly yet mysteriously up the river into the dark jungle. Coppolla, as you may have heard, adapted the story from Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" with the exception that H.O.D. is set in the African jungle based on a journey that Conrad took into the Upper Congo, then controlled by Belgium as a colony, whereas A.N. is set in the jungles of southeast Asia during the height of the Vietnam war.
For Redux, Coppolla went back to the raw footage, or dailies, and re-edited the entire film from scratch. The added scenes enhance rather than detract from the film, I felt. The film is set during the Vietnam War, but it is more about the dark side of human nature, and also how those in power often try to twist and distort the truth to fit meet their own ends. Is there a "method" to Col. Kurtz's madness? See the film and decide for yourself. It is interesting to watch the profound transformation that Capt. Willard (Sheen's character) undergoes.
The big questions on your mind may be:
1. Did Coppolla considerably improve the film?
2. Did the 45+ extra minutes of film enhance the flow and thematic development of the film?
3. Are the special effects and battle scenes spectacular?
The answer to all three of these questions is a resounding YES!
(except perhaps for those closed-minded "purists" out there who vehemently object to ANY change from the original release.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
The Steelbook is nothing but a worthless cash grab. It comes with the first disc in the full disclosure set but does not include the special features disc or the hearts of Darkness... Read morePublished 10 days ago by Stetson Medley
Greats a great story line and has an educated look at what it was like in Vietnam.Published 11 days ago by john brooks
Absolute masterpiece, from the opening to the end this movie is just emotionally relentless. It just doesn't play by movie rules. Read morePublished 19 days ago by Micah B. Yahr
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