Apocalypse Now - Full Disclosure Edition Blu-ray Review

Timeless, trance-like and powerfully evocative

by Casimir Harlow
Movies & TV Review

29

Apocalypse Now - Full Disclosure Edition Blu-ray Review
SRP: £37.19

Film Review


“What do you call it when the assassins accuse the assassin?”

Joseph Conrad’s 1899 publication Heart of Darkness told the tale of a man dispatched to the then-British-colonised Congo with a secret mission to go down-river and find a certain Mr Kurtz, a notorious ivory trader, and return him to civilisation. An ostensibly simple story, it soon became regarded as a literary classic for its framed narrative (the story is recounted by the lead character to a group of men) and for its deeper resonance as an insight into not only the ‘darkness’ that was inherent in colonisation, but also the very darkness that it suggests was in the hearts of all men – the capability to commit horrific acts of pure evil.
Some 70 years later, the book was adapted to a more current setting, namely, Vietnam. Maintaining the same symbolism of the horror within each and every one of us, it posited a critique on the horrors of war – primarily the Vietnam War – as opposed to colonisation, and told the tale of a veteran soldier sent downriver into the deep Cambodian jungle on a clandestine mission to find a mysterious Colonel Kurtz, who his superiors believed to have gone rogue.

After his success on two Godfather movies, and with the recommendation and funding of a certain George Lucas (who was too busy with Star Wars to direct it himself), Francis Ford Coppola began work on this adaptation, entitled Apocalypse Now, a production which would soon turn into one of the most troubled projects in film history. The original cast – Steve McQueen, Gene Hackman and Marlon Brando – soon became Harvey Keitel and Marlon Brando, with Keitel eventually replaced (3 weeks into filming) with Martin Sheen who himself went on to suffer a heart attack during production. Reportedly Brando turned up on set massively overweight, ruining the planned ending that Writer John Milius had scripted and leaving Coppola with little idea how to finish the film. Throw in a typhoon – which destroyed many of the expensive sets – on a production which was already over-budget and running a year off schedule, and many feared Coppola himself would go crazy trying to finish this film. Of course, with 20:20 hindsight most would argue that, whatever happened during the making of this movie, it was worth it, for the end result is nothing short of a masterpiece.

The narrative follows a certain Captain Willard, who – clearly used to combat – is suffering somewhat from a relatively stagnant stay on an Army base. Given a covert op to travel deep into enemy territory and seek out a man named Kurtz, a decorated Colonel who has apparently gone off the reservation and commenced conducting unsanctioned operations of his own, Willard’s mission is simple – find the man, assess whether he can be brought back into the fold and, if not, terminate with extreme prejudice. What follows is something of an existential journey into hell, with Willard travelling downriver, amongst a small boat-full of blissfully ignorant soldiers, stopping along the way to see the Vietnam War in full flight and experience many of the horrors that entails, and eventually catching up with Kurtz, a man who has been elevated to something more like a God amidst the native people, and is closer to madness himself as a result. Whatever Willard thought he would find when he got to his destination, he was not prepared for this.

Do I really have to wax lyrical to prove to you what a great movie this is? It’s philosophical and socio-political musings on the futility of war and the ultimate evil within all humans, coupled with standout performances, intricately constructed characters, authentic and haunting sets, a powerful soundtrack and a timeless story have elevated this to be not only one of the greatest war movies ever made, but actually – transcending genre restrictions – one of the greatest movies ever made full stop. There are surely scant few people who have gone more than two decades on this planet without discovering this absolute masterpiece.

The casting was perfect. Martin Sheen may not have been first choice for the lead role, and may have previously just missed out on Al Pacino’s part in Coppola’s earlier Godfather movies, but he is clearly the best candidate for the part of the beleaguered Captain Willard, an almost apathetic anti-hero who epitomises everything you need from a good narrator – which is essentially what his character, in both the book and the film, represents. You can see why he won the part over Harvey Keitel, Keitel reportedly unable to bring the required ‘passive observer’ aspect to the character. But it’s not like Sheen phoned in his performance – right from the opening set-up, where he trashes his hotel room, you realise just how much he put into the part. Still, it is a very nuanced, subtle reflection on a war veteran role, and one which only a more restrained actor could pull off (which Keitel hadn’t yet proved himself to be). We see things through Willard’s eyes – meeting his companions for the journey, as well as the various colourful individuals he encounters along the way – and we follow his reaction to everything, the horrors that he sees; the way in which he has become desensitised to much of which he experiences. Quiet and reflective, yet assured and resolute, he makes for the perfect antithesis to his target, the reclusive Colonel Kurtz – even if they both have some undeniable similarities, and Willard often feels like he is just one step away from crossing over into the wild yet free world that Kurtz lives in. It’s a strong performance from Sheen, perfect opposite Brando’s overbearing Kurtz.
Peppering the long journey, we encounter numerous interesting individuals, as Willard and his crew – a no-nonsense boat-captain, a surfing hippie, a cynical aloof chef, and an extremely young newcomer (played by the then 14 year-old Lawrence Fishburne, who had lied his way into the production, saying he was 18) – make their voyage. Amidst the most memorable of those they come across are the late Dennis Hopper’s wild-eyed, fast-talking reporter (Coppola apparently heard Hopper ranting on set and wrote in a more expansive role for him to basically babble his way through), and Robert Duvall’s oft-quoted Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, best remembered for both one of the film’s most striking scenes (the Ride of the Valkyrie-themed helicopter assault) and the film’s most popular quote: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” My personal favourite character has got to be The Roach, a somewhat threatening individual who appears to be comatose from smoking himself into oblivion, but wields a powerful 35mm high explosive grenade launcher with almost supernatural pinpoint accuracy.

Coppola infuses his rich journey, which comes complete with ludicrously authentic sets (no wonder the film went so massively over-budget, half of them got destroyed by a typhoon, and some of them weren’t even used for the final cut!), with such myriad characters that you get a full flavour of the ensuing war, without actually spending much time on the front line. From the gung-ho to the disdained and resigned-to-their-fate; from the fresh newbies to the embittered veterans and their corrupt superiors; from the victims of the war to the tribal natives living down the river in Cambodia – it gives you a wider vision of the true horrors of the conflict, and a better grounding in the true futility of it all. Whether you fight for it, or against it, or just sit on the fence, the end result still seems so damn pointless – almost like Willard’s journey itself: to execute a rogue Green Beret not because he is causing the US any trouble and not because he is affecting the war, but really because he is just an embarrassment to the US government. They don’t want their top soldier to just up and disappear off the reservation to become Gods amidst the natives – it’s bad PR.

Which brings me to Marlon Brando’s Colonel Kurtz. Honestly, I’d never noticed his weight being an issue, but perhaps that’s a testament to Coppola’s clever camerawork and use of shadow, rather than any exaggeration over Brando’s true stature. I’m sure that if they had planned to film an ending more comparable to the book, where Kurtz accompanies Willard on the boat-ride home, and dies during the voyage, his weight would have been a serious issue, but it goes by totally unnoticed thanks to Coppola’s quick-thinking. Considering that the original ending (whatever it was), had to be scrapped, supposedly because of Brando, it is a relief to find that the final ending they went with is much better than that in the book, and far more suitable to the subject-matter.

As is, the late Brando – still considered one of the greatest actors of all time – pulls off a powerhouse performance in the short filming time he agreed to for the movie; creating one of the greatest film characters, a darkly mysterious philosophical leader who seems totally calm and poised in his behaviour, but who is also capable of some truly horrific acts. I almost wish I hadn’t found out that Coppola used a body double for some of the longer shots, to give Brando a taller, more God-like stature, as it feels all a part of the character that Brando embodies. And it is interesting to see the parallels between the beliefs of his twisted Kurtz – who has accepted the corruption of his seniors back home, and escaped to be free amidst those who are more ‘at one’ with nature – and those of the assassin Willard, who has just as much disdain for authority and corruption, sees exactly the same horrors of war that Kurtz has experienced whilst making his journey upriver, and yet is still fuelled by a simple compulsion to obey his orders, despite the darkness within his own heart. They are two sides of the same coin.

Combining Walter Murch’s Oscar-winning sound work with Vittorio Storaro’s epic cinematography, Coppola delivers on all fronts with what is a powerful, personal reflection on war, society, political corruption, humanity, morality, loyalty, the sanctity of life and the horrors within each and every one of us. He paints broad strokes but fills in intricate detail for every single frame; telling his tale over a long and expansive runtime which never drags but will leave you feeling like you’ve had your own personal tour of duty (as much as any movie could). And this is a masterpiece at every level, with almost every scene – from the opening napalm-run sequence (which remains, to this day, one of the most striking sequences ever committed to film), to the proud march of the seemingly untouchable Colonel Kilgore, as the shells land all around him, to the striking final act, peppered with scenes of an almost-mythical Kurtz dipping in and out of the light and shadow, his huge shaven granite-like skull reminiscent of the moon itself, and it’s very dark side. And who can forget the final sequence, played out to The Doors ‘This is the end’, and interspliced with the apt slaying of a water buffalo. It’s tremendously powerful stuff, from start to finish.

Of course, 1979 did not see the final cut of Apocalypse Now. Never known for being pressured by Studios, Coppola had largely funded the production himself (almost to the point of bankruptcy) but he was compelled to borrow some funds from Universal Studios, who subsequently pushed him to produce a cut sooner than he wanted to. It’s understandable really, since Coppola had so much damn footage it may have taken him a decade to be happy with his final product (as it happens, it took three times as long for him to finally reach closure) and the Studios had a right to get their hands on some kind of marketable product while the project could still turn a profit. It was not until 2001 that fans finally got to see what Coppola apparently intended first time around, extending his already-hefty 153-minute version to a mammoth 202-minute Redux cut. Whole new generations got to see this classic on the Big Screen, and all those millions of fans out there could revisit one of their favourite movies once again.

Is Redux a better movie? Well, most would argue that the answer is quite simply ‘no’. At least not definitively. But it is certainly a valuable alternative edit, which will engage those who loved the original cut and take them on an even longer and more eventful voyage downriver. Taking a more detailed look, the inclusions vary from minor to expansive, but the highlights include greater screentime for Robert Duvall’s Lt. Col. Kilgore and more time to flesh out Willard’s shipmates. Unfortunately the larger segments do not sit quite as well – more time with the Playboy bunnies seems largely wasted; and the extended stopover at a French plantation is stylish but ultimately fairly redundant. One of the most costly sets during the production, the French plantation, enshrouded in almost supernatural mist, is a fantastic setting, but the ensuing scenes – mainly cementing philosophical ideas and the “hero’s” inner turmoil – don’t really go anywhere. Worse still, they bring the proceedings almost to a halt.

The final big addition, a daytime, fully-lit scene showcasing Marlon Brando’s Kurtz in all his glory, caused some uproar amidst fans, who felt that it demystified this almost God-like character. By keeping him in the shadows, aside from reducing the impact of Brando’s girth, Coppola accentuated the darkness and mystery behind Kurtz. Some felt showing the man in full-length shot during the daytime ruined this mystique. I can see what they mean, but since I consider Redux to be a companion-piece, rather than a definitive cut, I am quite happy just getting more Brando for my buck. And it’s not like the scene is pointless – Brando’s rambling reflection on Time magazine articles only adds to the mythos of the character.

Apocalypse Now is an absolute masterpiece, a landmark cinematic creation that has engaged audiences on multiple viewings for over three decades. It transcends the war genre, despite remaining one of the all-time best war movies, and has earned a place in film history as one of the greatest movies ever made. Timeless, trance-like and powerfully evocative, it is a haunting portrayal of war – and mankind itself – at its very worst, a transcendental look at the heart of darkness within each and every one of us. Astounding.

Picture

Having recently reviewed a few absolute masterclass Criterion Blu-ray releases it was nice to find a non-Criterion title which truly stands out as being amazing. As part of a recent distribution deal between Coppola’s own production studio, American Zoetrope, and Lionsgate Home Entertainment, we get a remastered video presentation that was personally supervised by Francis Ford Coppolla himself. And he’s done a wonderful job. For previous SD-DVD releases, cinematographer Vittorio Storaro chose to crop the image to a rather odd 2.00:1 aspect ratio, basically losing a bit of the image from the left and right edges. It’s debatable whether or not this was ever unofficially sanctioned by Coppolla himself, but the fact that he has restored the original theatrical aspect ratio of widescreen 2.35:1 here speaks for itself. It may well be a thirty year old movie, but this glorious new 1080p High Definition rendition does justice to it in a way that even some modern releases cannot boast about. I remember seeing a screening of the movie at a local cinema about a decade ago, complete with a plethora of ‘authentic’ print defects which I only expected for such an old movie, but seeing it now on Blu-ray is really breathtaking. Far superior to the theatrical presentation, indeed much better than any of the previous SD-DVD editions, this new remastered version surely must be the best video presentation that the movie has ever known.

Detail is excellent, for the most part, with an acceptable level of softness invading some of the scenes but clarity remaining throughout the majority of shots – whether close-ups on the heavily-perspiring bodies of the central cast members, or longer scenic vistas. The opening shot – the blooming yellow and orange napalm explosion – plays off perfectly against the rich and vibrant green jungle backdrop. And it doesn’t stop there. Skin tones are resoundingly realistic, sun-drenched and suitably war-torn. The shadow detail is amazing, contrast perfectly pitched, black levels exceptional. Brando’s head truly does evoke comparisons to the dark side of the moon. It’s not a perfect picture – but it certainly does not look thirty years old, polished up and primed like you would not believe. This movie has never looked better and, undoubtedly, probably never will.


Apocalypse Now - Full Disclosure Edition

Sound

It’s easy to forget that, back in 1979, Apocalypse Now redefined the use of surround sound channels for a feature film. We probably have this and Lucas’s Star Wars to thank for the evolution to 5.1 mixes, the very birth of surround sound design. So it is only fitting that now, graced with a powerful DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, the film that set the standard in the first place, becomes a new benchmark by which to judge current Blu-ray soundtrack standards. Seriously, it’s amazing stuff, the original sound design so pinpoint accurate that it will totally blow your mind more than four decades after it was first recorded.

Dialogue is primed for the frontal array, largely restricted to the fronts and centre channels, and the effects are where it all really evolves – from the opening helicopter arrival to the later shell-shattered sequences, the sounds moving across your surrounds with well-defined purpose. Every single channel is utilised both independently and together, the channel separation perfectly attuned to the onscreen action – both in subtle, ambient atmospherics, and boisterous attention-grabbing chaos. Then there’s Carmine Coppola’s score, a largely synth-based offering that only makes the production all the more haunting, its penetrating power really coming through with this new mix, more potent than ever before. Bass? You came to the right place. Unlike many recent blockbusters, which wield bass tones with a clumsy, shotgun-blast approach, Apocalypse now offers up a refined use of the LFE channel, allowing the whole mix to brim with rumbling undertones. It’s the perfect end to a perfect mix. This movie simply has never sounded better, and it is only fitting that such a masterpiece be given a reference-quality aural accompaniment.


Apocalypse Now - Full Disclosure Edition

Extras

Aside from sporting both cuts of the movie, seamlessly integrated on the first disc, which both allow you to access Francis Ford Coppola’s comprehensive Commentary, we get not one, but two discs’ worth of extras. The second disc is entirely devoted to myriad Interviews, Behind the Scenes Featurettes and extra material, whilst the third disc is dedicated to the acclaimed Hearts of Darkness Documentary, which is reason alone to pick up this release.

Audio Commentary
Francis Ford Coppola had compiled something of a running Audio Commentary for the entirety of both the Theatrical and the longer Redux cuts of his movie, and this is what fans would have got with the previous ‘Dossier Edition’ on SD-DVD. Whilst both Commentaries are culled from the same material, there are obviously more comments added to the Redux version, mostly relating to the extra footage. Coppola talks at length about the mammoth production, from script to post-production to Redux creation, discussing symbolism and themes, and the healthy working relationship of the entire crew. Although not new to many, it remains a great way to kick-start the extra material. If you can sit through three and a half hours of it, then this is well worth checking out.

Interviews
First up on the second disc we get An Interview with John Milius, an informal conversation that sees Writer John Milius talking to Francis Ford Coppola. Recorded earlier this year, this is an amazing retrospective look at the production, a 50 minute chat between the two awesome filmmakers. Milius talks at length about the Vietnam draft, his start in the film industry, his friendship with fellow College student George Lucas, his inspiration for the story, the influence that Dr. Strangelove had on this movie, the difficulty many filmmakers had in adapting Heart of Darkness, and the evolution of the story to that which we now see in the final cut. Milius does the majority of the talking, filling his length diatribe with nice anecdotes about his experiences as a young writer, the whole interview peppered with archive photos relating to what he is discussing. A great opening salvo, this new addition is a must-watch offering.

A Conversation with Martin Sheen and Francis Ford Coppola is another understatedly massive Interview, again running at almost an hour in length. It too is a new extra, again recorded in April 2010, and it sees Sheen and Coppola laughing and reminiscing about their experiences on the project. Coppola talks about casting Harvey Keitel, and how he did not quite fit the part, and then Sheen takes over to go into his introduction to the movie. He explains how he was stunned that Keitel, a real war veteran, did not suit the role; his impressions of the script; his reservations about playing a tough, conditioned soldier at his age and with drinking problems, and his experiences on ridiculously hot and humid set (which eventually led to a heart-attack, discussed at the very end). He does a great impression of Robert Duvall and goes into all the appropriate levels of detail, mainlining on the difficulties of the prolonged shoot and his own troubles during the filming, as well as discussing working with Brando at length. Coppola does contribute quite a bit, discussing his work with the cast (doing his own impression of Brando and talking about the problems with his size, and offering up some interesting titbits about the dangers on set – most notably the helicopter-filmed scenes which, they comment, would never have been approved these days), but this is mainly Sheen’s baby and, together with the other newly recorded Interview, these are reason enough alone to pick up this new release. Compelling.

2001 Cannes Film Festival: Francis Ford Coppola is a 38 minute Interview between film critic Roger Ebert and Francis Ford Coppola, recorded for the release of his Redux Cut. In it they discuss the changes made and the differences between the two cut, as well as Coppola’s motivations behind revisiting this masterpiece. There is also an abbreviated form of the Interview presented in Apocalypse Then and Now.

Featurettes
The Mercury Theatre On The Air: Heart of Darkness – November 6, 1938 is a 36 minute Audio-Only Radio Production featuring Orson Welles’s vocal contribution in multiple parts. Welles introduces the material with a few words about Joseph Conrad, and his ensuing literary work. It’s a crackly, clearly aged and occasionally very distorted recording, but that only makes it all the more amazing to have it on offer here after 75 years! If you haven’t yet sought out a copy of Heart of Darkness (and all Apocalypse Now fans should have at least considered this) then this audio recording makes for an interesting alternative, although I think even Welles does not do justice to the acclaimed work.

Fred Roos: Casting Apocalypse takes 12 minutes to look at the casting process, with the guy who had collaborated with Coppola on many of his other movies, including The Godfather series. We get excerpts from the original 1975 read-throughs of the script, with glimpses of Scott Glenn and Nick Nolte, as well as those who made the final cut reading through some of their lines. Seeing a 14 year old Larry Fishburne during the casting session is bewildering – even at such a young age he shows so damn much potential. There is also a nice but brief accompanying Featurette, PBR Streetgang, which takes 4 minutes to further detail the actors cast to form up Willard’s boat crew, and includes interviews with Fishburne and the others.

A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of 'Apocalypse Now' is an 18 minute Featurette looking at the mammoth task of editing this movie, with Coppola and Editors Walter Munch and Richard Marks discussing the sheer volume of footage to trawl through and edit down to a manageable cut. They talk about the oft-rumoured 5 ½ hour cut, explaining that it was actually a first assembly, but not a very watchable cut, with far too much footage of helicopter bombing runs. And Coppola’s explanation as to how he almost left the opening sequence in the garbage can is interesting stuff, as is the discussion on the (clever) after-thought idea of including a narration. Well worth checking out. There’s also an accompanying The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now Featurette which runs at just 4 minutes and briefly details the Technicolor dye transfer process used to restore the prints of both cuts.
The Birth of 5.1 Sound is a 6 minute Archive Featurette with Coppola and the Sound Editors discussing how they had originally planned to build their own theatre, which would be the only placed that played the movie – all because of the sound design that they wanted to utilise. This first of many sound-based Featurettes gives you a brief overview of the sound problems in cinemas before, the impact of Star Wars, and Apocalypse Now, which was the birth of 5.1 sound.

Ghost Helicopter Flyover is a 4 minute Archive Featurette on the sound design for the opening helicopter whirling noise that introduces the movie. They discuss how much planning was necessary to adapt the sound for the new multiple-channel audio format, complete with diagrams of the sound formulation across the array and a very interesting visual display of how the sound emanates from the different channels. Cool stuff.

Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now is a 15 minute Featurette further detailing the mammoth task of adapting the then dated sound capabilities to encompass the advanced sound design pioneered for the movie. We also get an accompanying The Final Mix Featurette which runs at just 3 minutes in length and features actual footage of the setup that they used to manipulate and condition the sound specifically to each channel, as well as a 15 minute The Music of Apocalypse Now Featurette that goes into yet further detail on the subject. You should be left knowing everything there is to know about the conversion to 5.1 and the technologically advanced sound design on this film by the end of these sound-based Featurettes.

Apocalypse Now: The Synthesizer Soundtrack by Bob Moog is a text-based article replicated from a January 1980 issue of Contemporary Keyboard magazine, which looks at the scoring of this piece.

Deleted Footage
The Hollow Men is a 17 minute archive offering, with Marlon Brando reading through T.S. Eliot’s poem as scenes from the film (both final film shots, and – more interestingly – plenty of deleted shots) play out in the background. There’s some new footage of Brando’s Kurtz (including him reading the poem in-character, as well as talking to the kids on-set) and some shots of the island kids playing around, the military sets and the expansive Kurtz compound set. It’s a rather strange, somewhat disconcerting offering, with plenty of long, purposeful pauses between Brando’s considered words, but that only lends it a suitable air of mystique. Fans will definitely want to check this out, mainly for the extra Brando/Kurtz material.

"Monkey Sampan" Lost Scene is a strange 3 minute Deleted Scene separated from the rest of the extra footage, where the natives at the Kurtz compound sing The Doors’ Light My Fire whilst we follow Martin Sheen’s boat travelling upriver and passing a Sampan boat which is covered in monkeys – and a dead human body. Foreboding and threatening, I can see why they cut it – but don’t understand quite why it didn’t make the extended Reduz edit.

Additional Scenes includes 12 Deleted Scenes: Saigon Street Life, Military Intelligence Escorts, Intelligence Briefing (Extension 1), Intelligence Briefing (Extension 2), Willard Meets the PBR Crew, Letters from Mrs. Kurtz, Booby Trap, Do Lung Bridge, The Photo Journalist, Colby, The Tiger Cages, and Special Forces Knife. Presented as very poor quality b-roll, time-coded footage, these are extremely difficult to watch, but often nonetheless compelling. The extended briefings alternate footage of some of the military mottos, juxtaposed with the corrupt senior officers plotting against Kurtz; the Do Lung Bridge scene further expands the situation surrounding the bridge; we get more Dennis Hopper footage in The Photo Journalist (and at the end); more Scott Glenn in Colby (and at the end); and then five minutes of footage featuring Brando’s Kurtz, speaking French, looming in and out of shadow, and talking to Sheen’s caged Captain. These 26 minutes of Deleted Scenes are all definitely worth watching, in spite of the poor quality, and there’s some quality material on offer here, particularly in the excellent Sheen/Brando sequence and the tense confrontation between the Green Beret Colby, the photo-journalist and Captain Willard at the end.

Kurtz Compound Destruction with Credits runs at 6 minutes and shows the way in which Coppola wanted to original show the credits, played over the utter obliteration of the massive Kurtz Compound (part of the contractual agreement when building the set). Coppola explains in Commentary how he removed these shots from the end credits because some audiences believed that it was part of the story, and that it indicated that Willard had called in an airstrike at the end. Coppola did not want this mistake to be made, so removed the explosive footage, but it was included as an extra on some earlier SD-DVD releases, and it is great to check out here.

Hearts of Darkness Documentary
After literally decades of rights issues, which prevented this acclaimed extra from gracing any of the previous Western editions of Apocalypse Now (no, not even the Dossier Edition contained it), fans finally get it included in the package, right where it belongs. A mammoth documentary that runs over an hour-and-a-half in length, it goes in depth to the one place that almost all of the other extras avoid – the shoot itself. Created by Fax Bahr, George Hickenlooper, and Coppola’s wife herself, Eleanor, it is a compelling insight into this monumental, almost catastrophic production, which nearly went down the route of Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate. Starting off with good intentions, well-laid plans and everybody playing happy families, the project soon goes off the rails with all of the noteworthy incidents (Typhoon, set destruction, cast changes, weather problems, Brando’s weight, Sheen’s heart attack) combining to almost send Coppola himself into the mouth of madness. It’s a must-see offering, almost as intriguing as a feature film in the way it looks at this snowballing near-disaster, and it’s another great reason to pick up this tremendous package.

Hearts of Darkness Extras
Although it never came as a part of any of the previous SD-DVD Apocalypse Now releases, Hearts of Darkness was released on SD-DVD as a standalone feature, and the disc itself came with a few features. Most prominent was an Audio Commentary with Francis and Eleanor Coppola, where the Director's wife offers up some interesting and revealing trivia about the production. Then there’s a Storyboard Gallery, a Photo Archive, and a Marketing Archive which itself includes several Trailers and Radio Spots as well as some of the original press kit material (including the lobby cards and the synopsis) and a selection of Poster Art. Finally we get John Milius Script Selections with Notes by Francis Ford Coppola, at text-based extra which shows you excerpts from Writer Milius’s own script, complete with the annotations Coppola made on how he wanted the scenes to go.
And as if that weren’t enough, the whole Full Disclosure package is rounded off with a lavish 48-page booklet with notes on the movie and the production, as well as the legacy it has left behind, presented with plenty of lovely images from the movie.

Apocalypse Now - Full Disclosure Edition
Transcending genre restrictions, Apocalypse Now remains not only one of the greatest war films in history, but also one of the greatest films of all time. Taking its classical literary source material and forging out of it a mythical, ethereal voyage through the horrors of the Vietnam War, and to the very heart and soul of darkness within each and every one of us, it is a timeless reflection on the futility of war and the inner struggle of mankind.
An indisputable masterpiece.

Forget your SD-DVD Dossier Edition, or the single-disc Redux copy you picked up the best part of a decade ago, this new 3-Blu-ray Full Disclosure package is the definitive release for this absolute classic. Finally we get the correct original aspect ratio, the remastered image supervised by Coppola himself, as well as a tremendous DTS mix that truly does justice for a film that once defined surround sound use. And the extras? Forget about it, there’s enough here to keep you occupied for a weekend lock-in, delirious at all the new (and old) material on offer. And when you eventually do go to bed, bleary-eyed and exhausted from the experience of watching both cuts, gorging yourself on the feature film-length Hearts of Darkness documentary, and trawling through the rest of the veritable plethora of extras, you can finish the night off reading the respectful 48-page book that accompanies the release. It’s a release that would have done Criterion proud (and, unlike Criterion, comes Region Free!). Without a shadow of a doubt this deserves a place in every film fan’s collection. This is one of those lavish packages that they invented the ‘Buy it Now’ button for. So, if you haven’t already, then go out and do it.

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Scores

Movie

10

Picture Quality

.
9

Sound Quality

10

Extras

10

Overall

10
10
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OUT OF
10

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