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Vietnam, the 70s. U.S. Army intelligence officer Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is sent to Cambodia to eliminate the deranged US Colonel Walter E Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Kurtz is conducting unauthorised and bloody operations from a remote jungle compound guarded by local tribesmen and fellow U.S. soldiers who have also deserted. Taken up river in a patrol boat staffed by Chief (Albert Tucker), Chef (Frederic Forrest), Clean (Larry Fishburne) and Lance (Sam Bottoms), Willard encounters gung-ho Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) and his helicopter division, a group of Playboy bunnies hired to entertain troops and a French family that has refused to leave its plantation. Finally the river leads to confrontation with the enigmatic Kurtz.

Apocalypse Now Redux (not to be confused with redox [reduction]) is redolent of parable or legend, depending on your point of view. It's 49 minutes longer than the original commercial cut, but I can't be sure whether it's also 'more'. I think it is. It certainly feels satisfyingly complete. Long films are sometimes criticised for being long, and sometimes justly: but when the filmmaker has something say (eg Coppola's Godfather trilogy) length is no longer a valid currency. Some books are long, too….Although film cannot approximate the complexity of a novel, Coppola's film approaches it with a depth of understanding that powers this giant of a film towards its inevitable, exhausting conclusion. Made in 1979, when the Vietnam war was still an open wound, on the surface the film is a Vietnam war story. The parable is much more obvious now – perhaps especially in this expanded cut: we cannot tolerate individuals who defy the system, no matter which human grouping comes under the 'we' and which individual strays. But even if you were to ignore that aspect, the film is a riveting achievement as a war movie with intense focus and spectacular veracity (overworked fog machines excluded). There are also moments that give moral pause, such as the meal scene at a French plantation deep in the jungle, where the French lecture the Americans about Vietnam. The book probably does it better – especially the seduction that follows – but it's still an effective moment or three. A new generation of audiences are here given a chance to see one of the watershed films of modern cinema on the big screen. They'll learn to "love the smell of napalm in the morning" and discover "the horror…the horror…" while marveling at a major work of lasting value.
Andrew L. Urban

All but a few of the 49 minutes added to this issue of Apocalypse Now contribute to improving what was already a masterpiece. Francis Coppola's mesmerising odyssey is now an even more psychologically complex and devastating exploration of morality under the most intense pressure imaginable. We also learn much more about Willard and his patrol boat crew as they snake their way into hell this time around. New scenes of cameraderie on the boat add a humorous note initially and to the emotional impact as this journey becomes a descent into madness for each of its passengers. Popular opinion on original release maintained the scenes inside Kurtz's compound were too cerebral and unfocussed. A short, perfectly written scene in which Kurtz lectures Willard about the U.S. government's conduct of the war transforms this entire section and brings all of Kurtz's philosophising and mutterings about snails on razors into blinding focus. Kurtz may be mad but he is shockingly right. Even with a half hour detour to the French plantation, Apocalypse Now Redux does not seem like a radically different film from the one released in 1979. It simply has the room to say everything it originally wanted to. The only slight blemishes in 197 minutes are the unnecessarily protracted political dinner table talk with the old colonials and an especially awful music track used in the a seduction scene between Willard and French widow Roxanne (Aurore Clement). Appearing like the heroine of a Marguerite Duras novel, Roxanne is a beautiful, ghostly metaphor for her country's folly in the region and her tryst with Willard representative of one nation's arrogance being repeated by another. They both deserved a better backing track than the awful schmaltz supplied. This is still magnificent filmmaking and story-telling on every level.Apocalypse Now is one of the great films because it is about every war ever fought and at the same time is about much more than men in combat. It is an hallucinatory, operatic meditation on the extremities of the human mind. By looking into Willard's eyes and listening to Kurtz's perfectly sane insanity we are taken to places few films have even come close to.
Richard Kuipers

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Claiming that this longer version is sexier, funnier, more bizarre, more romantic and is more politically intriguing than the orginal Apocalypse Now,
also believes it blasts away at ‘the stench of a lie’ about the Vietnam war."

Andrew L. Urban talks to VITTORIO STORARO

(US) 1979

CAST: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, G.D. Spradlin, Harrison Ford

DIRECTOR: Francis Ford Coppola

PRODUCER: Kim Aubry - Apocalypse Now Redux (2001) version); Francis Ford Coppola - original

SCRIPT: John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola, (Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness), Michael Herr (narration)


EDITOR: Lisa Fruchtman, Gerald B. Greenberg, Richard Marks, Walter Murch

MUSIC: Carmine Coppola, Francis Ford Coppola, Mickey Hart. Also features music from The Doors and Richard Wagner (from opera Die Walküre)


RUNNING TIME: 197 minutes


AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: November 15, 2001


VIDEO RELEASE: August 21, 2002

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