on 12 June 2011
Normally I start with a review of the movie itself, but Apocalypse Now has been reviewed a million times and I imagine the majority of people reading this already know if they like it or not. For me, it is my favourite war movie that just got better with the Redux version, and this is the icing on the cake.
Anyway, onto what most people will be interested in, the Bluray stuff.
The original and the Redux versions are both included on disc 1, and both look very good, not perfect, but probably as good as they can get. Colours are vibrant and blacks are solid - which is exactly what you want when you think of the infamous/famous Brando scene. At times the image is a bit soft, but that is a trait many films made in the 70's share and in no way does it reflect a lazy or poor transfer. There is some minor print damage here and there which you'll see as black and white flecks. It's a minor trifle to be honest though, the detail in the film is very good, with just the right amount of grain. The Master Audio track also deserves a mention as it is superb, a standout bluray soundtrack if ever I heard it.
Spread over the other 2 discs we have everything we could ask for really. The Heart of darkness documentary, new video interviews with Coppola and Sheen, original screen tests, additional deleted scenes, 200 storyboard drawings, a look at Apocalypse Nows then revolutionary 5.1 soundtrack, and loads more.
The boxset includes 5 exclusive artcards, a collectible booklet and a copy of the original 1979 theatrical program, very cool. The discs have their own fold out cardboard case, and it's all held together in a hard cardboard box (like the Alien anthology), so it feels feels well made, and looks great.
Without a doubt, this is the best version of Apocalypse Now available. Both versions of the film, the best extras with the best picture and sound quality. If you have any interest in this film then make your purhcase as soon as you can.
on 20 June 2013
This film is an experience. Spectacular in parts, thought provoking in others, but always entertaining. The single disc Blu-ray features the 1979 theatrical version (which I watched first) plus the redux. On balance I personally preferred the redux version which apparently is contrary to the majority view. The French plantation cut was relevant to the context of the Vietnam war and provides a welcome break from all the violence preceding it. Later, the scene where Kurtz reads from 'Time' magazine and then effectively releases Willard from his incarceration made more sense than the theatrical version which left us wondering how he was suddenly free. The Blu-ray presentation is first class. Although the video tends to be largely shot in subdued light it is still very clear. The sound track is stunning at times. The only time I felt it necessary to switch on the subtitles, to better follow the conversation, was during the broken English dialogue at the French plantation. Generally recommended.
A stunning masterpiece in every respect I must say. Infact one of the best films ever made.
Breathtaking at it's best, intriguing at it's worst, Francis Ford Coppala's groundbreaking epic 'Apocalypse Now' is one of the most iconic and celebrated motion pictures of the 20th century, and in my opinion, the greatest ever film depiction centered around America's involvement in Vietnam.
What I like most about 'Apocalypse Now' is that it is uniquely different from any other films of the same genre. Growing up as movie buff, and with a particular interest in war films, I've seen many films, which have attempted to portray the 'images' and 'feelings' of Vietnam but have been unsuccessful in doing so.
Apocalypse Now derives its artsy, abstract feel and look from the brilliant directing of Francis Ford Coppola and the eye of academy award winning cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. From the lengthy cross-fades and the strategic placement of scene changes to the long dialogue shots and extreme close-ups. Coppola is a master at using lighting to create a mood. In particular, the lighting within Kurtz's palacec reates an incredible feeling.
Apocalypse Now is just as much a war movie as it is a film about society. This film examines how society treats people who operate outside of what is considered the norm. Kurtz was an extremely well respected soldier who simply began doing things his own way. The Army deemed his ways unacceptable and marked him for assassination. When you watch this film, perhaps not the first time but maybe on the second or third time, you will begin to draw the parallels between the surreal story of Captain Willard and Colonel Kurtz and the realities of modern society.
This is truly a Masterpiece.
on 20 December 2001
This is an utterly brilliant, utterly unforgettable film, by some distance my preferred movie of all time and likely to remain so. No other film ive seen has the capacity to probe so deep into the human conscious with its stark imagery, climactic storyline and maddening atmosphere. Duvalls performance is possibly the best ive seen in a supporting role from any actor, perfectly grasping the arrogance of the perceived american presence in Vietnam, whilst also delivering several laugh out loud classic lines flawlessly.The military attack on the Vietnamese village is as exhilarating an experince as you will find in any motion picture, but from here on the film submerges itself in darkness as we travel up river, all the time the myth of colonel kurtz looming over the piece with a heightened sense of impending doom and anticipation.The whole film builds to the meeting of Kurtz, and as we finally approach the truly haunting closing setting we are as intrigued to meet him as Sheen. Whilst Brando is undoubtedly ott, it is a credit to his sheer aura that he is able to live up to this mythical character without us being dissappointed. Cinematically this film is a dream, every shot would make a fine still photo, and the ending will have you gripped to your seat. The images in this film will haunt your mind for days on end i assure you. It is ,of course, the best war movie ever made, but it is far more than that, it is a study in human nature and enthralling psychological viewing. If you dont like this film, you have to ask yourself, do you really like movies at all?
on 8 September 2009
This beautifully presented steelbook DVD contains both films...
Apocalypse Now: original 1979 release.
Apocalypse Now Redux: 2001 version with 49 additional minutes.
Introduction by Francis Ford Coppola.
The Hollow Men (17 min):
-- A complete reading of T.S.Eliot's poem by Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando)
Monkey Sampan (3 min):
-- A lost scene from the original shooting.
Additional Scenes (26 min):
-- 12 never-before-seen sequences.
A/V Club Featurettes:
-- A special section of bonus extras for young filmmakers and fans.
The Birth Of 5.1 Sound (6 min):
-- A brief history of film sound.
Ghost Helicopter Flyover (4 min):
-- An audio demo of the sound effects used in the film.
The Synthesizer Soundtrack (by Bob Moog):
-- An article by the inventor of the Moog Synthesizer.
-- 6 of the most frequently asked questions about the film... with answers!
The Post Production of Apocalypse Now:
-- 4 featurettes covering the fascinating stories of editing, music and sound;
A Million Feet of Film (18 min):
-- The editing of Apocalypse Now.
The Music of Apocalypse Now (15 min).
Heard Any Good Ones Lately? (15 min):
-- The sound design of Apocalypse Now.
The Final Mix (3 min).
Apocalypse Then And Now (4 min):
-- Cannes Film Festival, May, 2001. Coppola reflects on the reaction.
PBR Streetgang (4 min):
-- The crew of the Navy Patrol Boat gathers to celebrate the launch of Redux.
The Colour Palette of Apocalypse Now (4 min):
-- Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro discusses the film printing process.
When this special DVD feature is turned on by the viewer, an on-screen icon appears only during footage that was added to make the 2001 version called Apocalypse Now Redux.
Just a shame it's not a triple DVD that includes Hearts of Darkness.
on 8 January 2003
This is a Vietnam war film based on the short story "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad. Originally set in the Congo back in the beginning of the ivory trade there, director Coppola has translated it to Vietnam in the 60s. Like "Saving Private Ryan" it is the story of soldiers journeying on a mission through a war-torn country. However, unlike Private Ryan, the film does not stand out for its exciting battle scenes, or message of redemption. In fact there is only one real battle scene in the movie, and if anything, it ends with an anti-redemption.
The story goes: A top US Colonel, played by Marlon Brando, who was "one of us", is now a loose cannon and has disappeared into Cambodia and is committing atrocities with his own loyal private army. A seriously screwed-up and shell-shocked special forces soldier played by Martin Sheen is sent up the river by the US military on a secret mission to assassinate the Colonel. The director had a hellish time making this movie apparently, including going millions over budget (he put some of his own money in), and a lot of trouble with the actors. However what came out of the sometimes improvised filming was a brilliant journey into the heart of darkness, as Sheen travels up the river.
A series of "set pieces" occur during the journey up the river, some of which were removed in the original theatrical cut, and have been returned in the Redux cut. Some of these set pieces have become famous, for example the helicopters swooping in to attack a Vietcong occupied village, playing "Ride of the Valkyries" at full blast. The most satisfying parts of the movie however, are when Sheen reaches the true heart of darkness, the Colonel's camp. What transpires here cannot really be described adequately in words. You have to watch the whole movie to appreciate the end of the journey.
Another aspect of this movie worth mentioning is the soundtrack. It is a product of the times chronicled by the movie, with the Doors and the Rolling Stones included. Actually the first part of the movie is a great chronicle of some of the spirit of 60s.
Things to watch out for: a brief appearance by Harrison Ford, the reading of the "Heart of Darkness"-related TS Eliot poem "Hollow Men" by Marlon Brando, and Sheen's alcohol-induced breakdown scene in his bedroom at the beginning (the actor was not acting at the time!)
Overall, this is great. A spectacular intelligent, beautifully filmed, rock-and-roll, poetic journey, with an ending that will echo in your mind.
on 20 June 2011
I would like to concentrate on the audio side of the Movie rather than the movie itself, which has to be fair not gone without positive reviews.
This was the first Blockbuster movie to use separate channels for surround channels and the subwoofer.
This 5.1 format is now the way that virtually all film soundtracks and recorded.
Coppolas' fanatical attention to detail and the huge amount of time put into the editing of the soundtrack ensures it is still one of the best tests for any surround system 30 years after it was released.
Here are some of the details that any quality surround system should reproduce.
The Ghost Helicopter Flyover
At the start of the film before the picture appears the soundtrack makes full use of the stereo rear channels. The helicopter should pan smoothly across the back of the room and then across the full width of the front of the room.
A surround system should reproduce this with smooth, even pans all around the room with no hot spots or gaps - and without making you aware of any speakers.
As the intro builds to a crescendo, listen for the buildup of layers from the synthesized helicopter, the Doors soundtrack and the sounds of Saigon and the ceiling fan.
Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries
This classic piece of film shows the "air cavalry" playing music from their helicopters to terrify their intended victims. On most systems the sound of the orchestra is heard as part of the musical score rather than being clearly audible as a screechy, Public Address system being played from the helicopters.
Meet the Tiger
The use of surround sound is incredibly effective on this clip as the sounds of the jungle completely envelop you. It's critical that you're not aware of any of the speakers in your room or the illusion of "being there" will be shattered.
If you want to scare the life out of your friends this is also a great clip to use!
The B52 Raid
Arc light was the name given to the use of "strategic" B52 bombing in Vietnam. the sound pans between the rear channels - its coming from above rather than jumbled in with the front soundstage.
This film on Bluray with its DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack should be in every movie buffs collection, and for me to be lucky enough to play this film on our super Steinway Model M cinema system, is just the icing on the cake.
on 9 August 2005
More than twenty-five years on since it's initial cinema release, Apocalypse Now still stands as one of the most powerful and hypnotic visionary depictions of the madness of war ever committed to film, with director Francis Ford Coppola using Joseph Conrad's legendary tome Heart of Darkness as the metaphorical backbone to this surreal, episodic and hallucinogenic rumination on man's capacity for tyranny, and his ultimate search for redemption.
The basic crux of the story remains simple, with Coppola drawing on certain elements from the aforementioned Heart of Darkness, as well as various influences from the classic Werner Herzog film, Aguirre, the Wrath of God (in which Klaus Kinski's jungle trip mirrors that of the soldiers here) to give weight to his own cinematic ideas, manifested here by the two warring characters of Kurtz and Willard. Unlike the majority of Vietnam related films (like the Dear Hunter, Platoon, Casualties of War and Full Metal Jacket, to name the most obvious) Coppola's film relegates the technical and factual aspects of warfare and the period in which the film is set to the background, in order to more closely examine the relationship between the soldiers (particularly the abovementioned Willard and Kurtz) in this intense and to some extent dreamlike situation.
Coppola's depiction of 'Nam bares no similarity to those films listed above... with his Vietnam becoming a place where surf-mad soldiers bombard villages from helicopters to the piercing strains of Wagner; playboy bunnies entertain the troops in the middle of the jungle; out-posts are attacked at night by unseen mercenaries, whilst monotonous carnival music plays incessantly in the background; whilst the whole climax of the film juxtaposes rock music, arcane philosophy, decapitation and the ritualistic slaughter of a bull.
Coppola's visuals - aided by cinematographer Vitorrio Storaro, production designer Dean Tavourlarus, and editor/sound designer Walter Murch - are powerful and lingering, with the film offering up a number of astounding sequences and set-pieces (as well as some of the standouts listed above, the opening scene - which finds Willard freaking out to the sound of the Doors in a Saigon hotel room, whilst superimposed images of napalm explosions and juxtapositions of ceiling fans and helicopter rotor-blades drift across the screen - is a great way to introduce the sense of madness and escalating atmosphere that will build throughout the film). Much like the aforementioned Aguirre, Apocalypse Now has a great narrative momentum, with Coppola and co-writer John Millius (...though apparently, much of his contributions were scaled down) keeping the film moving forwards, much like the soldiers in the boat, by offering up a strong and enticing mixture of surreal visions, philosophical discussions, and abrasive action.
It's probably the only film to take the idea of "the madness of war" and makes the description a reality, with the filmmakers evoking a Vietnam that is more like a carnival freak-show than something approaching the hyper-real depictions of combat found in Oliver Stone's Vietnam trilogy (Platoon, Born of the Fourth of July and Heaven & Earth). Some have, and indeed, still, criticise the final act of the film, in which Martin Sheen's no-nonsense Willard finally comes face-to-face with Marlon Brando's barmy colonel Kurtz, in which the king of method acting turned up over-weight, moody and baring a serious grudge against the director and his co-stars. Regardless of this, I think Brando's performance is exceptional, as great as his portrayals in films like Streetcar Named Desire, On The Waterfront, The Godfather and Last Tango In Paris, as he sits hunched over in the shadows, stroking his shaven head and mumbling about T.S. Eliot and the horrors of militaristic genocide.
His appearance in the film is as iconic as the scene with Robert Duvall on the beach, with that oft-quoted line "I love the smell of napalm in the morning... smells like... victory" and is as tense and as surreal as any of the film's major (for lack of a better word) action scenes. The hallucinogenic atmosphere established throughout ties in with another Herzog film, Heart of Glass, and would be an influence on the Russian anti-war drama, Come And See, which is probably more important than Coppola's film... though it's certainly less accessible, and a lot more abrasive. Everything about this film is perfectly judged... from the production design, location work, sound design and music (the two are really integrated seamlessly here) and the heavily-colour-tinted cinematography (...getting away from the documentary-like approach of war favoured by many other filmmakers in favour or something more ethereal).
I'm not that familiar with the re-cut "redux" version, released in 2001... being much too attached to this version after years of watching it as a teenage. Also, as someone else pointed out, it's much easier to trust the directorial instincts of the man who just made The Godfather and The Conversation... but not so easy to trust the instincts of the hack that made Jack, and The Rainmaker. Apocalypse Now, in it's original 1979 version, more than stands up as one of the greatest films of the 20th century...blending together the gorgeous, hypnotic transcendence of Storaro's cinematography and Coppola's idiosyncratic take on warfare, with some startling moments of real-horror, philosophy, reflection and character.
on 18 May 2006
The question is "do you buy Redux or the original"?. The additions to Redux detract from the storyline. It loses some of the urgency of the journey upriver to find Kurtz. The crew of the boat stealing Kilgore's surfboard is childish. The scene with the Playboy bunnies after their helicoper breaks down feels like it was filmed and added later. Also I don't think Capt Willard would trade diesel for the crew's turns with the bunnies, it slows down his mission. The scene in the French colonialists' house breaks the up river journey and feels out of step with the story.
To sum up, if you want to watch this classic war film buy the original.
on 23 December 2002
I was somewhat cynical about messing with such a landmark film as the 1979 cinema version however, in my opinion, this version adds significantly to the overall impact of the film. I'm not sure if others found this, but the original version is brilliant up to where Duval exits the script then i found the trip upriver a little tedious until the weird and wonderful Brando turns up. There were numerous continuity slips (why does the camoflage make up go from almost non existant to complete within a scene, why do the characters change in their attitude to each other in such a short time etc). Well all is answered with the introduction of the bunny girls and the more pivotal french plantation scene. The plantation scene just oozes the arrogant attitude of all colonial powers and beautifully contrasts the attempts to hold onto all the trappings of wealth and power with the anarchy of the war taking place around them. The journey upriver is now one of the most compelling pieces of cinema I've seen and much more in keeping with 'heart of darkness' in the graduation of the transition from civilisation to madness, paganism and despair.
From a technical point of view the enhanced soundtrack is amazing and the photography and lighting effect are superb (especially in the Kurtz camp sequences). The downsides are that it takes some stamina to last out the whole run time and you don't get the wake up call of the Jimi Hendrix 'machine gun' screaming feedback guitar ending which i think was in the original.
Invest in a projector and a large screen, sit back and enjoy!