I had a beef with the picture of the original DVD release, but it was not the fault of the distributor. Originally shown in cinemas at 2.35:1, any print intended for viewing at home had, at the time, been cropped to 2.00:1 at the insistance of cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. Most scenes were still fine, but nothing could beat the original ratio and to this day I've never understood his decision. I had seen a portion of this in the full widescreen ratio of 2.35:1 on ZDF TV. "Ich liebe die smell der naplam im morgen", anyone?
Anyway, this Blu-ray release finally addresses this issue with the full 2.35:1 theatrical ratio, for both versions of the film, and in 1080p high definition. The picture is a little hazy in places, like some other Optimum releases gone by, but this only affects the film in a few scenes so isn't majorly offputting.
The sound is in 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, for which I got the 5.1 DTS version and aside from gunfire and explosions, this film is just oozing with atmosphere. That's all you need to know.
The extensive extras, spread across all three discs, include (at least within Amazon's 1000-word limit):
* Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1:35:59): Probably the ultimate documentary. If you know the film, you know the documentary. Released in 1991, this gathered so much interest that it even found its way onto a separate release on video, and later on DVD. After Francis Ford Coppola began, in February 1976, what became an overlong 16-month shoot based on Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness, a documentary that sums up the director's own sufferings also became essential viewing, pin-pointing his frustrations with the actors, locations and logistics. Footage by his own wife, Eleanor Coppola, is also included here, as she recorded a series of private conversations with her husband without his knowledge, originally intended for use as reference for her own production diary.
One of the darkest obstacles came when Martin Sheen had a heart-attack while filming and ended up in hospital, causing them to bring his brother, Joe Estevez, out to film some shots from behind of Willard, with Coppola telling the studio that Sheen only had to go for treatment due to "heat exhaustion", for fear of production being shut down.
* John Milius script excerpt with Francis Ford Coppola notes: A series of pages from the script with Coppola's own notes scrawled on it. It does make for a really impressive addition, but unfortunately there's no way to zoom in on them so get your nose pressed up against the screen.
* Storyboard collection (11:14): Does what it says on the tin, and for an extra that runs longer than 11 minutes, with each storyboard image lasting around 3 seconds, that's a great deal of images here. I'll let you count them.
* Marketing archive: Here we get the 1979 Theatrical Trailer (3:56, 2.35:1), five 1979 radio spots (2:05), 1979 Theatrical program (again, you'll have to squint), Lobby card and press kit photos and Poster Gallery.
* An interview with John Milius (49:45): A new segment, recorded last year, between Milius and Coppola.
* A conversation with Martin Sheen and Franciss Ford Coppola (59:26): recorded at the same time and in the same building.
* Fred Roos: Casting Apocalypse (11:43): This is a very intriguing extra, showing how Coppola and Roos audition people by getting them all together in one room to see how they play off each other, rather than seeing them one at a time.
* The Mercury Theatre on the air: Heart of Darkness - Nov 6th, 1938 (36:34): One of the episodes from the show created by Orson Welles in the 1930s.
* The Hollow Men (16:56): Brando's reading of the T.S. Eliot poem from the film.
* Monkey Sampan deleted scene (2:51): Blimey, there was something cut out that *wasn't* put back?! Seriously, this does make for an intriguing addition.
* Deleted and extended scenes (26:08): Twelve more scenes. Not sure why the above one wasn't included in with this but they're worth a look without going on too long. Well, most of them don't go on too long, except for a new one between Kurtz and Willard... as if we really needed that.
* The Birth of 5.1 Sound (5:51): Walter Murch, re-recording mixer, starts off in this piece by saying that the film was only ever going to be shown in one cinema in the U.S. and would be played for ten years, so it's less like the average movie and more like a landmark. Iaon Allen from Dolby Labs then goes on to tell us how we got from Mono, through Quad-surround and on to 5.1 sound.
* Ghost helicopter flyover (3:55): A piece about the disembodied helicopter at the start which uses all five speakers but is never seen initially.
* Apocalypse Now: The synthesiser soundtrack by Bob Moog: An article by electronic music pioneer Bob Moog, which originally appeared in the January 1980 issue of Contemporary Keyboard magazine, which is now known as Keyboard. Thankfully, in this case, the printed word is very easy to read.
* A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now (17:55): A featurette about the fact there was way too much footage shot than the average film.
* The Music of Apocalypse Now (14:44): I didn't realise that music of The Doors was due to feature in the majority of this film, but that's just one interesting fact about this featurette.
* PBR Streetgang (4:07): Chat from all those who were all on the PBR boat: Laurence Fishburne, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall and Sam Bottoms.
* The Colour Palette of Apocalypse Now (4:05): A look at the Technicolor process used to give the film its lush, vivid tones.
* Audio commentary: From Director Francis Ford Coppola. This is the sole extra on disc one.