After a space merchant vessel perceives an unknown transmission as a distress call, its landing on the source moon finds one of the crew attacked by a mysterious lifeform, and they soon realize that its life cycle has merely begun.
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...Written by
In Kurtz's dossier - on one of the pages, item #2 (that starts with "The fly-by formation of Corbra's" the word "prisoners" is misspelled as "prisonars". See more »
Saigon... shit; I'm still only in Saigon... Every time I think I'm gonna wake up back in the jungle.
When I was home after my first tour, it was worse.
[grabs at flying insect]
I'd wake up and there'd be nothing. I hardly said a word to my wife, until I said "yes" to a divorce. When I was here, I wanted to be there; when I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle. I'm here a week now... waiting for a mission... getting softer. Every minute I stay in this room...
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There are four different treatments of the end credits, all four are available in different VHS, laserdisc, DVD and TV prints of the film...... When the film premiered in a limited 70mm format, it had no beginning or end credits, nothing but a one-line Omni Zoetrope copyright notice at the end. Programs were passed out to theater goers in lieu of any credits. When the film went into its wide release its format was 35mm. This version included end credits rolling over surrealistic explosions and burning jungle, showing the Kurtz compound being destroyed. When Coppola heard that people were assuming that the explosions during the end credits of the 35mm version meant that an air strike had been called in on the Kurtz compound (which is not what he wanted audiences to think) he quickly re-edited the 35mm version to have the end credits rolling over a simple black background and a slightly altered musical score. The "Redux" version also has the end credits over a black background but in different screen fonts and including additional "Redux" inserted cast members. See more »
A longer director's cut, titled "Apocalypse Now Redux", debuted on 11 May 2001 at the Cannes film festival. This cut was re-edited by Coppola and Walter Murch and features a new Technicolor dye prints with additional footage originally left out of the theatrical release. The new version is 197 minutes long (53 minutes longer than the original version). The restored footage also includes the French plantation scenes with Aurore Clement and Christian Marquand, as well as scenes from the crew meeting the Playmates later on.
There are additional scenes when the crew is with Kilgore. During the napalm strike, he helps a wounded Vietnamese child. The napalm strike has ruined the favorable surfing conditions, so Lance and the others leave, much to Kilgore's dismay. Before they leave, Willard steals Kilgore's surfboard. Finally, just before Willard and Chef leave the boat to search for mangoes, a helicopter files by with Kilgore on loudspeaker, asking for his surfboard back. For the Final Cut version, an exchange between Willard and Chef is removed ("How am I going to shoot him next time he comes around? / Hey Chef, make some for the surfboard at the back"), avoiding the jump cut that comes directly after.
In the Playmate scenes, Willard trades two drums of oil in exchange for spending two hours with the Bunnies. We see Chef with Miss May in a helicopter, and Lance with the Playmate of the Year in a ransacked house. Miss May was once a bird trainer at Busch Gardens and tries to talk about birds with Chef while he is busy trying to get her to re-enact her photo that he showed the crew. They end up kissing and Miss May gets excited because Chef kisses like a bird. The Playmate of the Year is talking to Lance about her troubles and insecurities about being a Playmate. Clean is seen trying to barge in on both men, and when he barges in on Lance, the Playmates open a chest (in which to hide) and discovers a dead Vietnamese. Lance comforts her. Chef finds out afterwards that Clean is a virgin and starts calling him names on the boat. Willard told Chief that the whole crew can spend time with the Bunnies, but Chief refuses. This sequence was removed from the 40th Anniversary Final Cut version.
At the plantation, Chef figures that they are French first and tells them in French that they are Americans and are friends. They bury Clean with his tape player there, and eat dinner with the French. The crew eats with the staff, and Willard eats with the family. Chef wants to speak to the chef but is informed he only speaks Vietnamese. Willard is lectured about France's colonial history in Indochine as well as their military blunders. There also is a scene with Willard and Roxanne, one of the French women, smoking opium. In the Final Cut version, all of the political-related dialogue have been relegated to the background (removed), as well the earlier introduction of De Marais and some of the boat shots earlier (including an early glimpse of the Reporter) so that the focus is more on Willard and Roxanne.
At the Kurtz compound, Willard is imprisoned in an oven-like box. Kurtz appears, accompanied by a group of children. He reads to Willard from Time magazine articles about the Vietnam War. This scene was removed from the 40th Anniversary Final Cut version.
I first saw APOCALYPSE NOW in 1985 when it was broadcast on British television for the first time . I was shell shocked after seeing this masterpiece and despite some close competition from the likes of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING this movie still remains my all time favourite nearly 20 years after I first saw it
This leads to the problem of how I can even begin to comment on the movie . I could praise the technical aspects especially the sound , editing and cinematography but everyone else seems to have praised ( Rightly too ) these achievements to high heaven while the performances in general and Robert Duvall in particular have also been noted , and everyone else has mentioned the stark imagery of the Dou Long bridge and the montage of the boat traveling upriver after passing through the border
How about the script ? Francis Ford Coppola is best known as a director but he's everyway a genius as a screenwriter as he was as a director , I said " was " in the past tense because making this movie seems to have burned out every creative brain cell in his head , but his sacrifice was worth it . In John Milius original solo draft we have a script that's just as insane and disturbing as the one on screen , but Coppola's involvement in the screenplay has injected a narrative that exactly mirrors that of war . Check how the screenplay starts off all jingoistic and macho with a star turn by Bill Kilgore who wouldn't have looked out of place in THE GREEN BERETS but the more the story progresses the more shocking and insane everything becomes , so much so that by the time reaches Kurtz outpost the audience are watching another film in much the same way as the characters have sailed into another dimension . When Coppola states " This movie isn't about Vietnam - It is Vietnam " he's right . What started off as a patriotic war to defeat communist aggression in the mid 1960s had by the film's setting ( The Manson trial suggests it's 1970 ) had changed America's view of both the world and itself and of the world's view of America
It's the insane beauty of APOCALYPSE NOW that makes it a masterwork of cinema and says more in its running time about the brutality of conflict and the hypocrisy of politicians ( What did you do in the Vietnam War Mr President ? ) than Michael Moore could hope to say in a lifetime . I've not seen the REDUX version but watching the original print I didn't feel there was anything missing from the story which like all truly great films is very basic . In fact the premise can lend itself to many other genres like a western where an army officer has to track down and kill a renegade colonel who's leading an injun war party , or a sci-fi movie where a UN assassin is to eliminate a fellow UN soldier who's leading a resistance movement on Mars , though this is probably down to Joseph Conrad's original source novel
My all time favourite movie and it's very fitting that I chose this movie to be my one thousandth review at the IMDb
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