Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier DVD Review

by AVForums
Movies & TV Review

Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier DVD Review
SRP: £18.59

Picture

Paramount have opted to present both films across the two discs as opposed to one disc per version, with the additional Redux scenes integrated via seamless branching. For those not perturbed by the need to swap discs midway, this format allows a larger degree of disc space to be allocated to bitrate, and hence picture fidelity. Whether it's a wise move to enhance quality, or a needless hassle in this day and age is in the eye of the beholder. But this reviewer didn't see such a momentous difference between this and the one disc Redux released a couple of years back.

The results here are pleasing, although the age of the movie does mean that anyone expecting revolutionary reference material may feel a touch underwhelmed, with tell tale signs such as grain and softness appearing on occasion. Digital artefacts do also appear from time to time, however these are never enough to warrant major concern. Colours are superb here, with rich and vivid tones that come to life on the screen.

One final point (which will no doubt be a crushing disappointment to the hardcore followers) is that once again the movies original aspect ratio of 2.35:1 is cropped to a more manageable 2.0:1 in a more approved by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. In the age of home widescreen televisions, the choice is an unusual and somewhat pointless one, and it would have been nice to finally see the movie presented in it's original aspect. On the plus side the framing is tasteful, and will probably only be an issue to those who consciously make themselves aware of it.
Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier

Sound

Presented in Dolby Digital 5.1, the sound here is terrific, which it should be considering the format was perfect specifically for this movie (a nice little snippet revealed in the extras). The heavy artillery roars into life with commendable use of the surrounds, and a bruising employment of the LFE channel. Dialogue too is clean as bell for the most part. A very good result.
Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier

Extras

'The Complete Dossier' is somewhat of an unfortunate moniker, being as the package is far from what most hardened fans would consider the definitive release they have hankered for since DVD's inception. Cutting straight to the chase, Hearts of Darkness, (Eleanor Coppola's wonderful documentary charting the almost surrealistic mental, physical, and economic breakdowns suffered by her husband in the making of the film) is not present here. Considering its rightful reverence as the single most engrossing and worthwhile companion ever constructed for the film, its absence is a crucial one, and unfortunately not one the package ever really recovers from. It's hard to sit and whine over what is a supremely comprehensive package of extras, but one can't help but wish that amongst the wide variety of supplements here, there was a little more to sink your teeth into. Sure there's a lot, but most of the additional packages here run for little more than ten minutes or so, and for a film of this magnitude, something that really went into depth would have been most welcome.

The undoubted jewels here are the two commentaries by Coppola which are a film buff's wet dream, packed to the gills with information from technical aspects through to anecdotes and historical information. Guaranteed to enhance any perspective on the movie, I can't praise these enough. Coppola also provides introductions for both cuts of the film, and these again are a great watch but way to brief at only a few minutes each.

The Hollow Men is a 17 minute recital from Brando of T.S. Elliot's poem, which is atmospheric and trippy if little else. Following this are thirteen additional scenes which were not included in either version of the film and are an engrossing and intriguing edition for fans.

What strikes you is just how much supplemental material is reserved to cover the aural canvas of the movie. 'The AV Club' featurettes focus on the creation of six channel sound, 'The Music of Apocalypse Now' focuses on the score of the film, 'The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now' deals with the more detailed technical aspects of creating the movies ambiance, and 'The Final Mix' takes a brief look at how the sound was ultimately designed. Exhaustive for sure, but a touch of overkill for all but the most enthusiastic of audiophiles. Technical information is also doled out mercilessly in 'A Million Feet of Film--The Editing of Apocalypse Now', and also 'The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now'.

A couple of brief interview features close the package. 'PBR Streetgang' features interviews with the members of the movies boat crew, 'Apocalypse Then and Now' is a brief interview between Coppola and critic Roger Ebert.

Overall, despite the impressive volume of additional features, I was left a touch disappointed. There's no doubt it's clearly the best release out there for the movie in terms of supplements, but alas the extras are a case of little and often as opposed to anything substantial. It's also disappointing that most of the supplements focus on the technical side of things, and the films colourful creation and importance in historical context and left by the wayside for the most part. What we have left is a solid and lovingly constructed package, but one far from the definitive selection we could have hoped for.
Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier
Not quite the definitive version of Coppola's masterpiece that we were all hoping for, but this is still an excellent release, and a worthy upgrade for all.
Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier

Scores

Movie

10

Picture Quality

.
.
.
7

Sound Quality

.
.
8

Extras

.
.
.
7

Overall

.
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8
8
AVForumsSCORE
OUT OF
10

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