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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 20.91%
Average: 10%
Pretty Bad: 1.82%
Total Crap: 5.45%

7 reviews, 68 user ratings

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Apocalypse Now Redux
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by John Linton Roberson

"A Very Interesting Appendix."
4 stars

Before we start: this is not a review of APOCALYPSE NOW, but merely that which has been added to it. That being understood--one has to wonder at the obsessive-compulsive tinkering upon which certain filmmakers seem to spend all their time these days. Sometimes there are terrible results, like everything George Lucas touches. Other times it's more interesting, in some ways. This is a case in point.

What we have here isn't actually Apocalypse Now(referred to henceforth here as AN). If you want to see one of the best epic poems on Vietnam, see the old version in widescreen format--the sound and visuals are the same as here, at least in terms of quality. Also if you haven't seen the normal AN, you won't have any idea what I'm talking about, so you might want to stop right here.

This is more an appendix, and those can be interesting in themselves. It does clarify some things, but muddies many others.

Fast-forwarding to the first new stuff, we find that Kilgore is far more of a Dr. Strangelove-type satiric character. We see Lance not exactly looking forward to surfing the battle-heavy water, and Willard whoopingly stealing Kilgore's surfboard. At which point we cut to the site of the tiger scene, as Kilgore tries to track them down the river with a helicopter and recording asking for his board back. All very funny. But what's really worth looking at here is a crucial difference between this version and the other. In AN, Willard and the men are never close. After the Sampan scene he says, "Those boys were never going to look at me the same way again." But we really don't know how they look at him to begin with, though the occasional line is dropped in that, in the original, seems apropos of nothing, an afterthought. Here, they bond, they get chummy. Willard is human here.

This isn't, however, a welcome change. Willard works better not being quite human. The fact that we know little about him in AN helps us project ourselves through Willard--particularizing him here not only seems inappropriately realistic and indeed cliche, it blocks us from him even more. It seems more of a "star" performance here. Easy to see why it was cut.

The next notable addition is, of course, the sex. The Playboy Bunnies end up marooned up ahead, past the Do Long Bridge, and Willard trades most of their fuel for sex with the bunnies(for all the men). This does explain why they're later so desperate for fuel, and the scene itself is actually a lot of fun. Coleen Camp, the bunny who likes birds, has a very amusing moment(and yes, she is gorgeous) in a sex scene in a helicopter with Chef. Meantime, the other--an actual PMOY--delivers a long monologue to Lance, as he undresses her and makes her up, about how lonely it feels to be a Playmate. All very funny, beautifully photographed, and even sexy. But beside the point. It doesn't belong in this film. So far all the additions just add humor to the film, but that wrtecks the atmosphere.

And then, the reason I rented it: the French Plantation scene, legendary since Hearts of Darkness came out. And it's excellent. Mostly expository, it tells you very swiftly just why the US is there, and why the French lost, things you almost never hear in films. This, I can't understand why Coppola cut. The whole sequence is perfectly placed and very well-done. As said by Willard, it is eerie, like a "family of ghosts." This belongs in the regular version--it provides another "station," like the Do Long Bridge or Kilgore--showing the gradual progression to Kurtz. Past the Do Long Bridge there are French ghosts, and from there the devil himself.

And then we come to Kurtz. Again, not much new here, except we get to see Kurtz, in daylight, reading to Willard TIME stories about the war. I had heard about this and immediately assumed Kurtz, who first appears to Willard like a supernatural presence, like a dead moon hanging in space and then as some kind of dark god of war, would lose his mythic presence if seen in broad daylight, fat in his black pajamas. I'm happy to report that Brando is far better than that. Kurtz loses nothing by this scene, but gains nothing either. It's merely interesting; but it doesn't feel essential, either. It's fat, and nothing else, and its trimming hurt the film not at all.

In addition, we hear more of Kurtz' thoughts as Willard goes downriver reading his letters. That fits in seamlessly, and in fact clarifies much of Kurtz' thinking in a very useful way.

So...the final verdict is: don't let this be the first version of AN you see. Watch this after seeing the real film. This is a supplement, not a "director's cut." Much of what's in THE GODFATHER SAGA is interesting too but I still would rather see the regular versions. This one lacks poetry in what it gains in narrative. Apart from the French plantation sequence(which should be re-inserted), it's interesting, nothing more.

More problematic to me is: when did Coppola last direct a bearable film? I think he ought to get out of the editing room and realize those films are complete, and make something new that I can stand to watch. Four good films is not a great career.

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originally posted: 12/05/01 17:15:09
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User Comments

10/30/16 morris campbell some of the added footage is good but stick with the original cut 3 stars
6/08/10 Flathead King The first hour is brilliant but the ending is disappointing as it lacks clarity. 4 stars
7/04/09 Monday Morning Disappointing. Dated. Platoon and Full Metal Jacket were better (but depressing too). 3 stars
3/25/09 Saint Subversive the added footage should have remained as DVD extras, it kills the film's timing 5 stars
8/30/08 Shaun Wallner The Action was Amazing! 5 stars
6/22/08 yoda Traveling up the river, traveling back through time, to the heart of darkness 5 stars
6/18/07 Bilemobuma Obireke I wonder what the US govt was thinking when they went to war with Vietnam in the movie 4 stars
5/18/07 Nash it's as good a war movie as anything. and kurtz couldn't, and shouldn't, be anything else 5 stars
2/17/07 mb Empty Movie ... nothing but darkness here 1 stars
1/15/07 David Pollastrini best viewed while stoned 4 stars
1/29/06 Reklc Anti war acid trip, very well done! 5 stars
8/06/05 Pierre The definitive version of Coppola's masterpiece! 5 stars
8/05/05 Moctezuma Apocalypse Wow 5 stars
8/04/05 Ducky The deleted scenes destroyed the movies original beauty 2 stars
5/27/05 Jake Gives more depth to an already brilliant masterpiece 5 stars
4/13/05 Indrid Cold Doesn't quite carry the weight that it pretends to, but still very well done. 4 stars
12/07/04 Kurt Cobain The Original Version is Better, This one is too overlong. 4 stars
11/19/04 Michelle Rose fantastic modern approch to the novella Heart of Darkness 5 stars
11/16/04 Mel K. way beyond fun....but a must-see 5 stars
10/20/04 eugene what the fuck is wrong with Kurtz 1 stars
10/19/04 theo stevens undoubtedly the most pompous, self-important movie ever made? 3 stars
10/15/04 alex the best movie ever made! 5 stars
9/08/04 Cameron Cubbison This is the dumbest, most overrated movie of all time. Nothing happens! 1 stars
8/27/04 Aaron Smith Terrible; depressing. Worst movie I've ever seen. 1 stars
6/25/04 Karen Stockdale The most atmospheric war film ever....oh the horror, the horror..... 5 stars
5/06/04 Peter Pisanko Fucken A. The Horror. The Horror. 5 stars
4/19/04 Living Tribunal "Redux" destroys the grim tone & relentless pace of the original 5 stars
3/17/04 Spiderfan729 I read Heart of Darkness and I can safely say this is too long and boring!!! 2 stars
12/07/03 R.W. Welch Should have left well enough alone. Original cut is easily better. 4 stars
11/27/03 John oh my god it IS better 5 stars
10/04/03 Nasty_Gnorc More hours means more greatness 5 stars
7/02/03 Jack Bourbon We see why the original was edited as it was when we see "Redux." 5 stars
4/22/03 Jon "Thumb the Toad" Lyrik Decent recut, but some new scenes are pointless and slightly dull. Original is still better 4 stars
1/26/03 Jack Sommersby Some of the extra scenes enhance, others just diminish. As flawed as its always been. 3 stars
11/28/02 Zack W. Young Brilliant remake of the film I never thought could be improved. 5 stars
10/04/02 The Man Original would be 5 stars, but Redux was unnecessary 3 stars
5/28/02 Phoenix This version offers more insight to a already classic film. 5 stars
5/16/02 Monster W. Kung A little less surreal and different from the original. Still awesome. 5 stars
3/25/02 far-out one of my all-time favorites 5 stars
3/13/02 rue the whirl i would have rather seen these scenes as DVD extras. the original is superior 4 stars
1/19/02 Magnum Craphole Makes 'Full Metal Jacket' look like a walk in the park. 5 stars
1/18/02 daniboy mindblowing 5 stars
12/29/01 The Man Worth seeing only as a novelty, but many new scenes don't work. The original is far better 4 stars
12/10/01 Aiken Drum Smells like....... Coppola 5 stars
12/05/01 john linton roberson Worth seeing, but only after the original. 4 stars
11/27/01 Pierce Lanson Everyone's insane, and Coppola does it brilliantly 5 stars
11/25/01 viking gets better every time you see it. 5 stars
11/16/01 matthew smith a mindblowing experience 5 stars
11/14/01 Zizzerzazzerzuzz I think it's actually better than the original, which was already a classic. 5 stars
10/17/01 Rob Z Redux Reminder of the plateaus of excel attainable thru film - All Bruckheimers take heed! 5 stars
10/06/01 jenn aguilar dead 5 stars
10/01/01 Lee Cone Completely mindblowing, fantastic 5 stars
9/09/01 Creel A great movie gets better 5 stars
9/06/01 Paulie Boy Director's Cut is better than original 5 stars
9/05/01 Dave improved. Opening scene and Wagner scene did not seem as powerful as the first time around 5 stars
9/01/01 jazzbox orders of magnitude better 5 stars
8/28/01 Mistah Kurtz "... He dead." 5 stars
8/28/01 grant welch hippies eat shit this movie is awesome. 5 stars
8/28/01 Stan Appel Restored footage adds nothing. Great film though! 5 stars
8/28/01 Artist Freak How can you not be swept up into this movie? Awesome performances, music, cinematography. 5 stars
8/27/01 spaceworm At last Kilgore gets what he ENTRANCE! 4 stars
8/24/01 David Dawes A monumentally brilliant work of art 5 stars
8/16/01 Piz Oh boy, talk about hype, this movie blows! 1 stars
8/14/01 shankster I still don't know if I like the added scenes. Some (i.e. Plantation) are distracting. 5 stars
8/14/01 sdfk Visually exciting, intensely disturbing, wonderful and gripping 5 stars
8/04/01 john klepper Heart of Darkness? Heart of Coppola? 5 stars
7/31/01 Girl 9 Yes I realize this is a classic, but it is still boring as hell! 1 stars
7/31/01 DMF Even better than the original which is my all-time favorite film. 5 stars
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  24-Aug-2001 (R)



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