At the height of the Vietnam war, Captain Benjamin Willard is sent on a dangerous mission that, officially, "does not exist, nor will it ever exist." His goal is to locate - and eliminate - a mysterious Green Beret Colonel named Walter Kurtz, who has been leading his personal army on illegal guerrilla missions into enemy territory.
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
***The greatest film ever made, but not "Redux"*** The original "Apocalypse Now" is an awe-inspiring masterpiece and is my all-time favorite film. Memorable scenes abound, starting with the mind-blowing opening with Willard (Martin Sheen) having a mental breakdown in his sweltering Saigon hotel room to the tune of The Doors' "The End." Speaking of Sheen, people overlook the fact that he expertly carries the film. 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 script was written by John Milius with alterations by Coppola as he shot the film while the narration was written by Michael Herr. The meaning of the story is obvious: The trip up the river led by Capt. Willard exposes him to two extreme viewpoints of war represented by the two colonels he encounters on his long journey, both of whose names start with 'K,' which is no accident: COL. KILGORE (Duvall) is a romantic who embraces war as a lifestyle and even feeds off it, i.e. glorifies it. The fact that he's a romantic can be observed in the air-raid on the village where he literally plays Wagner as a prologue. He feeds off the war to the extent that he "loves the smell of napalm in the morning." War is just another day to him so why not go surfing? Since he lives off of the war there's no way it can kill him or even give him a scratch. Kilgore naturally has the support of the top brass because he's part of the system and plays the game of war. COL. KURTZ (Brando), by contrast, sees through this hypocrisy. He realizes that being in a state of war is humanity gone mad. It's horror itself and therefore must be ended through the quickest means possible at whatever cost. He refuses to play the game of war as he expertly takes out double agents, etc. Of course the brass can't have this so they put out a hit on Kurtz via Willard. The existential Kurtz becomes increasingly disillusioned -- even crazy -- after jumping ship from the system and now has no sanctuary. Death is the only way out. His consolation is that Willard will tell his son the truth. The "Redux" version was put together by Coppola and released in 2001 with the addition of 53 minutes of material that he originally cut. 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 being badly scripted and acted. The first let down of "Redux" is revealed when Captain Willard hooks up with the boat and crew who are to escort him up the river to find Colonel Kurtz. In the original there's a water-skiing scene on the river which 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 AFTER the boat crew steal 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 introduction of Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) in "Redux" is good. The charisma of this air cavalry colonel in all his swaggering glory is perfectly showcased in this brief snippet; but the scene's so brief it's unessential. Four main new sequences 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. Moreover 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 1991 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 bogs the film down. The final added scene that is unnecessary and reduces the potency of the original film is the sequence involving Kurtz 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 suffering a mild case of jungle madness. So Coppola made the right decisions with his original 1979 edit of the film. The new footage of "Redux" should've simply been relegated to the "deleted scenes" section of the DVD. Not every idea that is birthed during the creative process is worthy of the final product and "Redux" proves it. GRADE: Original version: A+ ; Redux: C+
Author: Rocketeer Raccoon
I think a lot of people who think this film is a classic are deranged, the only memorable scene in the film is when they drop exploding napalm and the guy in the hat says "I love the smell of napalm in the morning", the rest of the film is a completely boring bombshell and it's like the film was high on drugs as there's this one part where people are butchering a cow in the most grotesque way possible... poor cow, now I'm offended by this film. This film is just weird, the characters are not memorable at all not even Marlon Brando's character, the story is non-existent and the ending just sucks. Overall this film is absolutely terrible and I don't care what others think, I did not enjoy this film at all.
Author: John Chard
It wasn't just insanity and murder, there was enough of that to go around for everyone. Apocalypse Now is directed by Francis Ford Coppola who also co-adapts the screenplay with John Milius from Heart of Darkness written by Joseph Conrad. It stars Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms and Albert Hall. Cinematography is by Vittorio Storaro and the music is primarily arranged by Carmine Coppola. The Vietnam War and Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Sheen) is approached by American intelligence to go on a secret assignment: he's to follow the Nung River into the remote Cambodian jungle to find and assassinate Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a member of the US Army Special Forces who has gone insane. One of the most talked and written about films of all time, Apocalypse Now remains to this day a harrowing and haunting experience to first time viewers. With a production shoot that has in itself become legendary, Coppola's flawed masterpiece has been dissected and argued over to within an inch of its magnificent life. People will continue to write about it for ever more it seems, perhaps there might even be the odd new confrontational spin on what resides within? But ultimately it's what the individual takes away from the film that matters, our own interpretations key to the enjoyment of such a disturbing vision of war and violence. Many of the set-pieces, dialogue and characters have long since passed into folklore, and rightly so. The Ride of the Valkyries helicopter assault, Kurtz's surreal death camp, the boat people massacre, purple haze, the playmates, Kilgore, and of course the horror, the horror..indeed. The performances match the quality of Storaro's sumptuous Philippines photography, Sheen is fiercely committed and Duvall and Hopper in turn are powerhouse and edgy. While Brando, doing his own bizzaro thing in the last third, brings a little chaos unintentionally in keeping with the madness at the heart of this particular darkness. Personally that last draggy third does stop it from being a complete genius type whole, but everything up to it is so damn good it's arguably churlish to expect perfection? But as near perfection movies go, Apocalypse Now proudly sits with the best of them, sitting there with a harrowed look upon its face. 9/10
Author: Ian Beale
**Ponderous, meandering epic with a few bright spots.** This film is about a soldiers quest to find a renegade and insane Colonel (a bald Brando in an extended cameo) who has hidden himself away in the depths of the jungle and is causing all manner of commotion. Quite what it was - I can't remember, but it _was_ important enough to go down stream in search of him. Sheen's character decides to head down river with his fellow soldiers and seek out the bald lunatic before its too late. Robert Duvall is hilarious as a war immune soldier - especially when a shell explodes near him and he merely gives it a disinterested glance. Amusing! On the whole, though, this is a ponderous trip - the film seems to meander aimlessly with little to keep this viewer interested. - Ian Beale
2 hr 33 mins
$ 31,500,000.00 (Estimated)
$ 89,460,381.00 (USA)
$ 57,960,381.00 (Estimated in USA)