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Apocalypse Now
Drama, Action, History, War
IMDB rating:
Francis Ford Coppola
Marlon Brando as Kurtz
Martin Sheen as Marlow
Robert Duvall as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore
Frederic Forrest as Jay 'Chef' Hicks
Sam Bottoms as Lance B. Johnson
Laurence Fishburne as Tyrone 'Clean' Miller
Albert Hall as Chief Phillips
Harrison Ford as Colonel Lucas
Dennis Hopper as Photojournalist
G.D. Spradlin as General Corman
Jerry Ziesmer as Jerry, Civilian
Scott Glenn as Lieutenant Richard M. Colby
Bo Byers as MP Sergeant #1
James Keane as Kilgore's Gunner
Storyline: It is the height of the war in Vietnam, and U.S. Army Captain Willard is sent by Colonel Lucas and a General to carry out a mission that, officially, 'does not exist - nor will it ever exist'. The mission: To seek out a mysterious Green Beret Colonel, Walter Kurtz, whose army has crossed the border into Cambodia and is conducting hit-and-run missions against the Viet Cong and NVA. The army believes Kurtz has gone completely insane and Willard's job is to eliminate him! Willard, sent up the Nung River on a U.S. Navy patrol boat, discovers that his target is one of the most decorated officers in the U.S. Army. His crew meets up with surfer-type Lt-Colonel Kilgore, head of a U.S Army helicopter cavalry group which eliminates a Viet Cong outpost to provide an entry point into the Nung River. After some hair-raising encounters, in which some of his crew are killed, Willard, Lance and Chef reach Colonel Kurtz's outpost, beyond the Do Lung Bridge. Now, after becoming prisoners of Kurtz, will...
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The greatest film ever made, but not "Redux"
The original "Apocalypse Now" is an awe-inspiring masterpiece, there's no doubt; it's my all-time favorite film. Memorable scenes abound, starting with the blow-your-mind opening with Willard (Martin Sheen) having a mental breakdown in his sweltering hotel room to the tune of The Doors' "The End."

Speaking of Sheen, people overlook the fact that he carries the film and does so brilliantly. His haunting narration is one of the most effective narrations in cinematic history and hooks the viewer into the nightmare-adventure.

I could go on and on about the noteworthy scenes, but I'll resist, except to comment on Col. Kurtz: Was he really insane or actually an unrecognized genius? General Corman informs Willard: "He's out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field commanding troops." And, yet, Kurtz was accomplishing what the US military couldn't or wouldn't do because of political complications and niceties. I bring this up because, as I've aged, I've come to see that I'M Col. Kurtz in some ways -- operating "out there" beyond the parameters and restrictions typically linked to my work.

The "Redux" version was put together by director Francis Ford Coppola in 2001 with the addition of 53 minutes of material that he originally felt was not worthy of his magnificent picture. Naturally any fan of the original film MUST see "Redux" to view this extra footage.

I saw "Redux" in the theater in 2001 and was extremely disappointed. The brilliance of the original is still there, but very little of the added footage works; most of it simply drags the film down, the rest is either boring and unnecessary or adds a dimension of silliness, not to mention it's badly scripted and acted.

The first let down of "Redux" is revealed when Captain Willard hooks up with the boat and crew that are to escort him up the river to ultimately find Colonel Kurtz. In the original there's a water-skiing scene on the river which perfectly and dynamically introduces us to the absurdities of every-day life in the field in Nam (with the Rolling Stone's "Satisfaction" blaring). In "Redux" this part is cut and pasted to an hour LATER in the film, horribly muting the original's introduction to life-in-the-field. (I realize WHY Coppola did this -- because the scene was originally intended to be shown later in the film, after the boat crew stole Kilgore's surfboard -- but he made the right decision to omit the board-theft scene and place the water-skiing scene near the beginning).

The only new scene that works is the introduction of Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall). The charisma of this air calvary colonel in all his swaggering glory is perfectly showcased in this brief snippet; but the scene's so brief it's unessential.

The four main new scenes definitely DON'T work: The scenes involving the theft of Kilgore's surfboard are silly, badly scripted and unnecessary. In fact, they ruin Kilgore's perfect swan song in the original. These scenes reveal a goofy side to Willard that ruin his grim mystique in the original.

The additional bunny sequence during the rain storm is also silly and unnecessary; it's a huge letdown even if your sole desire is to see some more skin.

The longest added sequence involves the French plantation mentioned in the documentary "Hearts of Darkness - A Filmmaker's Apocalypse." Small bits of this piece work and enrich the film (like the ghostly discovery of the plantation), but on a whole it's too long & talky (where it's impossible to understand the heavily-accented dialogue without subtitles) and simply drags the film down (the original never dragged).

The final added scene that is unnecessary and reduces the potency of the original film is the sequence involving Kurtz (Marlon Brando) reading a couple Time magazine articles to the caged Willard. This is the FIRST and ONLY time in the picture that we get to see Kurtz CLEARLY in broad daylight, and it destroys the great mystique of the character that was so perfectly built up in the original. In this scene we plainly observe that Kurtz is just some fat dude in the jungle suffering a mild case of madness. (No offense to overweight people).

So, the only scenes that work are the brief introduction of Kilgore and a couple aspects of the French Plantation sequence; the vast majority of the new footage and editorial changes only serve to mar an awe-inspiring masterpiece. Needless to say, Coppola made the right choices in his original 1979 edit of the film. This new footage should have been relegated to the "deleted scenes" section of the DVD. It makes no sense that Coppola would insert these lousy scenes into his phenomenal picture. Maybe he just wanted to re-visit a past glory. Unfortunately he ruined it in the process.

Fans of "Apocalypse Now" MUST see the added footage, we have no choice; if this is the case, it's worth picking up the DVD, but be forewarned -- you will be disappointed. If by chance you're not familiar with "Apocalypse Now," skip "Redux" and see the original asap.

"Apocalypse Now" is a 10/10 picture; "Redux" brings it down to a near-godawful 5/10.

GRADE: Original version: A+ ; Redux: C+
Redux is a Travesty, Travesty, Travesty!
First off, I am not reviewing the classic original which I would give 10 stars to, I am reviewing the horrible 2001 redux, and this is why there is 1 star.

I don't care what Coppola says. He calls the REDUX/redo/re-edit that he put in theaters in 2001 the "definitive version" of Apocolypes Now. He's crazy. He hasn't made a decent film in a long, long time. He took a great and classic film and ruined it, and it's his own. Will he do this to the first two Godfather films? Robert Duvall's gung-ho character has turned into a buffoon, searching for a surfboard that Martin Sheen has stolen. Martin Sheen's character has turned into a warm-hearted guy who loves his crew, plays games with them like stealing surfboards, as opposed to a serious guy who has a very serious mission like in the original. Marlon Brando reads TIME magazine. And there is a scene with a French Plantation that destroys the entire flow to the movie, and plays like a corny dream sequence and is just horrible, with acting so bad it's more of a nightmare. The worst scene in the redux is when Chef and Lance (Fred Forrest and Sam Bottoms) party in a "parked" helicopter with some of the Playboy Playmates from the previous R&R scene. One of the playmates has a birdcage on her head, no joke. This is another scene that kills the entire flow of the movie, and makes Martin Sheen a nice guy, since he is the one who sets up his men with the girls in the first place. And also, Coppola takes the scene where Lance is water skiing (with the Stones "Satisfaction" playing) and moves it from the beginning of the film to the middle. This was, in the original, one of the best setup scenes of all time, letting you unwind and to get to know the laid-back situation of these men, and Coppola ruins it. Oh the horror, the horror, the horror of this redux. The Redux is a total travesty. Coppola has ruined his own masterpiece. Imagine Van Gogh, if he'd lived, taking "Starry Night" and adding to it, or DiVinci or Monet or anyone else. Coppola has lost it, completely. And so, the true "horror" isn't the Vietnam war, but the hands of a burnt-out has-been filmmaker mangling one of his best works. And by the way, here I am reviewing the redux only, which is why there is only one star.
Captain Willard
I have always loved the ironic symbolism and brilliant cinematography of Coppola's masterpiece. I was lucky enough to meet Martin Sheen outside the Santa Monica Civic Auditorium one night in 1981, as he waited for Charlie and Emilio to leave a concert. He was very humble about the praise I shared with him for this work of art, especially his portrayal of the young Captain. This is, without a doubt, a must see, a complete 10 and an important part of American Film History. "Charlie Don't Surf". Robert Duvall's famous line (the other one) does not need repeating as it has become an oft repeated anthem and his Pattonesque character will long be remembered as a classic American war hawk in the John Wayne tradition. It is a surprise to see how young Laurence Fishburne looks.
This movie was filled with melodramatic acting, bad humor, horrible character development, no action, sub-par editing, awful music, and oh yes the Redux version is over 3 hrs long! I loathe this film, and will never understand its appeal. Come to think of it I'll never understand the appeal for the Godfather either. Give me Goodfellas any day. I think Francis Coppola is the most over rated Writer/Director of all time. Give me Robert Zemickis or Steven Spielberg and I'll be a happy little boy. Whatever "it" is that people see in his movies I will never understand. You know what I think... It was the 70's and everyone was on drugs. That must be the reason why everything was so weird. I know people are gonna respond to this and say "You just didn't get it." I got it. I got the whole stupid movie. And I thought it stunk.
I love the smell of napalm in the morning
I decided I need to lengthen up my review for my all time favorite film. Unlike other war films that focus on the event, Apocalypse Now takes the viewer into a psychological head trip. The sheer surrealism makes the body uncomfortable, yet you can't lay your eyes off of it. Based off of Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness, Apocalypse Now slowly descends its protagonist, Willard (Martin Sheen) into madness, most likely the same way Kurtz plunged into insanity. The production of this film is notorious for its delays provided by the monsoon season and for Brando's unprepared performance (he read his lines from cue cards). There is a documentary titled Apocalypse Now: A filmmakers Apocalypse which shows the hell everyone went through in making this.

The opening sequence is one of the most famous and popular in any film. As the blade of the helicopters are heard in slow motion and napalm is dropped in the trees, the song "The End" by the Doors can be heard. The next shot is of Willard in his bed with the fan on, so the noise of the helicopter coincides with the fan. We are informed that he does special missions for the military, mostly assassinations. When his next mission is given to him, he is baffled. "Charging a man with murder here is like giving a speeding ticket in the Indy 500." The man he has to kill was a respected colonel that has gone insane and isolated himself along with tribes people. Kurtz is ordering atrocious acts that are carried out by these people and he must me stopped. Willard does not go alone however. He is carried on a boat with several soldiers and they come across several battles. Along the way, they meet Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore "Hoorah" about the war. Willard ponders that if Kilgore is that crazy, what could Kurtz be like. There are many scenes that portray Willards plunge into insanity: The tiger attack, the slaughter of innocent Vietnamese, the nonstop rain, the piled dead bodies scattered about, and the deaths of his crew members. When he reaches the Kurtz compound, he is greeted by the village people and a hippie photojournalist (Dennis Hopper). Instead of assassinating Kurtz right away, Willard begins talking with him and his conscience begins to doubt what he should do. Kurtz, on the other hand wants to die. He is tired of the war and wants to go down as a soldier. Willard kills him with a machete while in unison, a buffalo is sacrificed with several machetes by the people. Once they realize their leader has been slain, instead of killing Willard, they hail him as their new king. Willard rejects the offer and leaves them.

The cinematography here is absolutely breathtaking. The colors are grain free, something that is rare in older movies. I can watch it muted and admire the beauty of the scenery.

The acting ensemble is terrific, with everyone playing their parts well. Many criticize Brando for some reason, but I think he nails his role as a depressed lunatic who is beaten up by the war.

The soundtrack and the score are haunting, and provide the mood for the film. I am wondering what instrument they used in that guitar-like sound when the credits roll? There have been many parodies of this film, but my favorite quote comes from Marge Simpson when she explains to Homer why a character with the same name on a police show is behaving like an idiot: "Your character provides comic relief for the show, like um, Marlon Brando in Apocalypse Now." Those who have seen the movie know why this is hilarious.
I must be missing something...
Now, it would appear by judging the user and critic reviews that my opinion is in the minority. Nonetheless, I cannot for the life of me understand the extremely high ratings for this film. The Deer Hunter, Full Metal Jacket, Platoon and Good Morning Vietnam all much more enjoyable. The cinematography of Apocalypse Now is very good at times, the opening scene being arguably my favourite part of the film as the music is perfect. However throughout the whole film I just felt an extreme lack of consistency with the storyline, too much confusion and jolting between themes. Whilst some of the action scenes were brilliant, I just felt a real lack of connection to the purpose. Now I won't spoil the ending but let's just say I really could not make heads or tail of the decisions made, all logic was out of the window. I am never usually critical of a film and this must be the highest rated picture that I really do not get on well with, for some reason I just expected a lot more and was very disappointed.
Great interpretation of a good book to deliver points on the nature of war
In an updating of `Hearts of Darkness' a soldier is given a mission to travel up a river During the Vietnam war in order to terminate the command of Colonel Kurtz. Kurtz is operating without orders and is leading a group of natives in brutal violent strikes against the enemy. Despite his history of brilliance and decoration he has clearly gone mad. Willard joins a military boat and travels up river to his destiny. However the further he travels the more madness appears to have become the norm.

It is a film everyone knows, and a `making of' story that is familiar to everyone on some level. The problems with the military, with destroyed sets right down to Keitel walking off set to be replaced by Martin Sheen who then had a near complete breakdown during filming. However the story itself is what keeps this so popular. The original book is set in Victorian times and is similar only in the concept of travelling up a river and confronting something dark and changed in the shape of Kurtz. The modern day spin on it makes it even more interesting as it looks at the madness that comes with power within war.

The journey itself is at times comic and at other times brutal. The overall feeling is one of soldiers not knowing why they are fighting or who they are fighting. The feeling of confusion and fear is inherent in the film and is very well delivered. Willard's journey never fails to grip and is interesting on whatever level you watch it – whether it be for the famous set pieces or for the underlying themes.

The performances are excellent. Sheen has never been better and now seems so distant from his character that he is a different person. While some of the emotion on screen was real, he does a great job as our guide through the journey. The best performance comes from a surprising source –Brando. Despite the fact that he was difficult, horribly over weight and hadn't learnt his lines, his eerie performance is still haunting. His mumbling and reasoning in the shadows show that he may be touched by madness but, in the context of war, he is also touched by cold logical reasoning. Likewise Dennis Hopper fits in well despite his stoned demeanour. The support cast include some names as Albert Hall, Harrison Ford, Forrest and a young Larry Fishburne.

Overall this will remain a classic on many levels. The film itself is great and full of spectacle, the story of the making itself is interesting, the performances are wonderful despite everything and the fact that it has other themes makes it even better. As an war movie it is great simply because it isn't about the war it IS war – in the words of Coppola `it isn't about Vietnam, it is Vietnam, it's how the Americans were in Vietnam. We were in the jungle, we had too much money, too much equipment and, little by little, we went insane'. Classic film on so many levels.
Joseph Conrad and Chinua Achebe eat yer heart out
HEALTH WARNING: comments reflect the film in toto if you need not to know the end don't read on. I find this film to be a commentary on the dispute between Conrad-who set a meditation on the void at the heart of European society-in Africa and Achebe who found this an affront for the same reason; the Africa of the story is rather distant and the Africans shadows in the distance. Not only do the Europeans nick the continent off its rightful owners but they don't even give the locals a cameo appearance! This is reflected in the film where Vietnamese people exist to get shot or fall for Kurtz's not so crypto-fascism. By the last third of the film the action is in Willard's head-will he join Kurtz like Colby the first assassin-or do the suits' dirty work. He does neither-killing Kurtz allows Kurtz to expiate his sins and release the locals from their false God at the same time releasing Willard from his dependence on the suits for a "mission". By killing Kurtz Willard confronts his heart of darkness gaining the possibility to become older and wiser.
Coppola's Masterpiece
Francis Ford Coppola's masterpiece was a great ending for a golden decade of American cinema. In the 1970s there was an atmosphere of tolerance, open-mindness, and progressiveness among the studios that allowed the making of major films by a few of the best directors that the United States has ever had. I am not a historian, but all the events that preceded the decade (a few being the violent deaths of major figures of the American political and cultural scenes, the racial struggles, the emergence of the 1960s counter-culture, the increase of violence and death in the streets...) seemed to influence the vision of filmmakers who were willing to dare, be different, and create entertaining and intelligent motion pictures. Coppola's film is a strange blend of humanistic thinking and skillful film-making, following the parameters of war and adventure films, and at the same time subverting them with its flowing reflections on the value of life, the reason of death, or the ethics of war. It is also a passionate work, made against all odds, chronicled in the 1991 documentary "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse"; a motion picture that went beyond any previous reflection on the Vietnam war ever to reach the screen. This may not be the definite Vietnam motion picture, but dealing with it Coppola defied the formula of classic melodrama found in two Vietnam movies made simultaneously, "The Deer Hunter" and "Coming Home", or in latter ones as "Platoon" and "Casualties of War", before Vietnam became the starting point to make products of any genre, as horror in "Jacob's Ladder", or comedies as "Good Morning, Vietnam", among the more respectable. Coppola had the courage to take that economic and political conflict as the background of a search for answers to questions faced by any man every day of his life, without betraying the dramatic consequences of that war.
pretentious piece of sh.t
This movie was just plain bad. I have never reviewed a movie here in my four years of browsing the site, but never in my days of watching movies have I been so infuriated by a film. For starters, the movie just doesn't make any sense. There is no logical transition from scene to scene. As I was watching this movie, I found myself actually TRYING to convince myself that it was good, that at some point during this overdone, self-righteous piece of poo, that some semblance of a theme or motif would come into play. No: The movie continues to lead you down the linear path of the story. I now see where Charlie Sheen inheritted his blank stare acting prowess from that he so consistently displays on a weekly basis in his new sitcom. Well, I guess it is the apocalypse NOW because I've read that Two and a Half Men is the top viewed sitcom on network television. And guess what, this is the 36th ranked FREAKING movie on IMDb. I never thought that a single movie could cause me to never want to watch another movie of the same GENRE. THATS how bad this movie was. 3 hours and 20 minutes of my life, wasted So I thought that, although I normally don't review movies here, why not put in another 2 minutes so maybe, just MAYBE, I could have done some good by watching this movie. That good will be if I can manage to convince even one potential viewer to avoid this overdone pretentious Francis Ford Coppola bullshit. So as far as I'm concerned, IMDb and every movie critic out there has lost all credibility.
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