THE STORY: Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic, loosely based on HEART OF DARKNESS by Joseph Conrad, tells the story of Captain Willard (Martin Sheen), a special agent sent into Cambodia to assassinate an errant American colonel (Marlon Brando). Willard is assigned a navy patrol boat operated by Chief (Albert Hall) and three hapless soldiers (Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms, and Larry Fishburne). They are escorted on part of their journey by an air cavalry unit led by Lt. Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall), a gung-ho commander with a love of Wagner, surfing, and napalm. After witnessing a surreal USO show featuring Playboy playmates and an anarchic battle with the Viet Cong at a bridge, Willard reaches Colonel Kurtz’s compound. A crazed photo journalist and Kurtz groupie (Dennis Hopper) welcomes the crew, and Willard begins to question his orders to “terminate the colonel’s command.” The grueling production and Coppola’s insistence on authenticity led to vast budget overruns and physical and emotional breakdowns. Considered to be one of the best war movies of all time, APOCALYPSE NOW features incredible performances and beautifully chaotic visuals that make it an absolute must-see.
THE REVIEW: The first time I saw this movie was in a film class while working on my masters. We watched classic movies such as A Clockwork Orange, One Flew Over The Cuckoos Nest, and Apocalypse Now. What was most striking about Apocalypse Now was the cast—and of course the director. Apocalypse Now is a masterwork. It’s impossible to deny its power and how painstaking it must have been to maintain the immensity of that movie for Francis Ford Coppola—he did claim to go crazy during the filming of it.
There are many stories about the movie production that cast the film’s legend even further. This is a classic and The Complete Dossier is the DVD edition to buy. The quality is amazing and looks far and above the previous release Redux. You have to wonder why this quality wasn’t released previously, especially now that movies are starting to slowly release in High Definition.
The Complete Dossier contains both the 1979 and 2001 versions of the movie.
The commentary by Francis Ford Coppola is wonderfully insightful and detailed with stories and technical information. There are twelve never-before-seen segments from the cutting room floor that deserved to stay never seen. There is an outtake of Marlon Brando’s complete reading of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” which is long and boring.
A/V Club featurettes: “The Birth of 5.1 Sound,” “Ghost Helicopter Flyover,” “The Synthesizer Soundtrack by Bob Moog,’, and “Technical FAQ”. The Post Production of Apocalypse Now featurettes: “A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now,” “The Music of Apocalypse Now,” “The Sound of Apocalypse Now,” “The Final Mix”.
“PBR Streetgang” is a featurette with a cast reunion. There are interesting moments but it’s not the reason to buy the Dossier version. There is also a lost “monkey sampan” scene, “Apocalypse Then and Now” retrospective, “The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now” and Redux Marker which is special function to mark the added scenes and expanded scenes of Apocalypse Now Redux.
FRANKLY: Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier is so far the definitive version but there are still going to be those cinephiles who want Heart of Darkness and will see this as another way for Coppola and the studio to cash in on a classic—and in a sense it’s true. If you don’t already own Apocalypse Now on DVD this is the one to buy unless you want to wait for the HD version.
+ Charlie Craine