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9/10
As long as you realize it's FICTION, you're okay...
MartinHafer18 October 2011
My biggest complaint about "Apocalypse Now" is that many who view it might think this is exactly like the Vietnam War. Instead, it's almost like a non-funny spoof--satirizing it instead of showing an actual view of the war. The film shoves a decade of surreal incidents and some completely fictional ones along with incorporating Joseph Conrad's book "Heat of Darkness" and the Herzog film "Aguirre: The Wrath of God" into this vision. The results are pretty amazing...just NOT the actual Vietnam War. In other words, there was too much craziness for one movie--but it did make for exciting and compelling viewing nevertheless.

The first 2/3 of the film is very much like "Aguirre", as it shows a group of misfits taking a CIA operative (Martin Sheen) upriver into Cambodia on a secret assassination mission. Along the way, TONS of insane little vignettes are shoved into the movie--some of which are patently ridiculous. Now I must say that when the film was released, some of the more surreal and ridiculous scenes were removed--such as the Playboy bunny scenes which simply make no logical sense. But the reason so much illogic is shoved into the film is that the filmmaker, Francis Ford Coppola, was NOT trying to make a true depiction of the war. I wish some of this craziness had been toned down a bit--after all, I am a retired history teacher and love truly accurate depictions. But this film is highly fictionalized and Coppola surely wasn't trying to make a documentary.

The final portion is basically right out of "Heart of Darkness"--with massive changes here and there (such as the purpose of the visit to Kurtz). Now if you haven't read this book, I do NOT recommend you do so. Believe me, it is one of the more difficult and tedious books I've ever read (yes, English professors, I know you will hit me with lots of 'not helpfuls' because I said this). And, while over the top in many ways, at least it was entertaining--something that could never be said about the book (which, by the way, was not a war story and was set in the Belgian Congo). In fact, an English teacher friend of mine admitted, after I pressured him, that the book was insufferable.

So is the film any good? Sure. Very well done. But remember, it's NOT a work of non-fiction. Now I am NOT defending the Vietnam War (it was screwed up in every way and was one of the dumbest moments in US history) but just don't want the gullible to assume it's fact. For at least a closer view of the reality of the war, try watching "Full Metal Jacket". But, for a crazy, surreal and mesmerizing view, give "Apocalypse Now" a look. It's like nothing you've ever seen before...

FYI--It should surprise no one that this is a VERY adult movie--especially the "Redux" release of 2001. Tons of violence, strong language and graphic nudity are in this film, so don't watch it with your mother-in-law or the kids!!
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9/10
Take the long ride to perdition.
Hitchcoc12 February 2007
There are films we watch because they are good, even though they are painful for us. This is a film I saw one time. At that time I thought to myself, this is enough. It was painful to make that journey down the river, wondering what was around every corner. Then we meet the products of our own id impulses, as we are the enemy, our souls have been brought down to this. At the end of the river is the man who came before us, and we see the uselessness of the journey. It is the Heart of Darkness. There are death masters like Robert Duvall. There are those who can only hope to survive, but the war is the master. The Doors music as the napalm settles gently on the treetops and across the ground, sweeps us up gently. Meanwhile it is consuming the flesh of the Vietnamese people, as well as an occasional American soldier. The ancient Romans could not envision peace without war. We and much of the world seem to have embraced those tenets put forth some two thousand years ago. This film gets into the marrow.
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9/10
Sheen Shines In This Unique Classic
ccthemovieman-111 January 2006
Well, I've watched this movie for over 25 years now and it's still almost as interesting as when I first saw it. It is definitely one of the most unique films ever made.

I still think Martin Sheen got "dissed" big-time in the billing, too. He dominates the film yet gets lesser billing than Marlon Brando, who only appears in the last 30 minutes of this 2 hours, 17 minutes film (theatrical version). How unfair is that?

Sheen is fantastic in here, especially his narration, which runs throughout. It's one of the best narrations, if not THE best, I have ever heard in a movie. His voice is just haunting as he relates his thoughts on this incredible, nightmare-like adventure. I never fail to appreciate his work in this movie.

The other thing that strikes me about the film over the years are the number of memorable scenes, ones I have never forgotten, such as......

Sheen losing it in his hotel room in the movie's first scene; Robert Duvall and the totally out-of-place surfing scenes and then the ensuing attack with Wagner's dramatic classical music blaring out of the helicopters; The Playboy bunny entertaining the troops; Frederic Forrest being freaked out seeing a tiger close up in the jungle; the weird scenes on the long riverboat ride; the appearance of hippie journalist Dennis Hopper greeting the crew in Cambodia and then Brando's bizarre character. It goes on and on with strange scenes.

That's not to say I enjoyed everything. No, there are a few very unpleasant scenes, such as the one in which an ox is sliced in half (can't watch that anymore), an innocent family is slaughtered on a small boat by Sheen's young stoned-out crew, and the crew is a little too goofy at times. Then, there is the huge amount of profanity, led by way too many f-words.

So, there is a lot of good and a lot of bad things in this movie for almost anyone who watches this One thing for sure: it is a film you WILL remember!
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9/10
It wasn't just insanity and murder, there was enough of that to go around for everyone.
Spikeopath24 July 2011
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
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9/10
A most unusual masterpiece.
Boba_Fett113813 August 2005
This movie is extremely odd. Looking at this movie makes it obvious that most of the cast and crew were on drugs during filming. The end movie result, is an unique one of a kind movie experience and quite possible the best Vietnam war movie ever made. It's not a movie for everyone though, guess true movie buffs are the only ones who can truly wholeheartedly appreciate this movie and the 'beauty' of all the ugliness in the movie.

The movie makes a perfect statement as an anti-war movie. It shows the horror of war and what it does to men. I have to admit that my favorite parts of the movie were the ones with action in it. The chopper attack is truly splendid and a real classic moment of movie history. Still this is not really a movie about shooting and fighting. Its more a movie about the emotional struggles of men during war. The struggles of the main character Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen) are told in a most excellent, slow, compelling way. He becomes more and more obsessed and interested in the man he is supposed to 'terminate with extreme prejudice', during his journey over the river to Cambodia, where Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), the man he is supposed to kill, is located. Once the movie progresses it becomes obvious that the journey and the emotional struggles seem to be more difficult and dangerous than the killing of Kurtz.

What makes the movie work are the good and realistically brought characters and the actors that portray them. All of the characters are stereotypes in a way, which works extremely well for the movie and its story. Brando is totally flipped in his role as 'crazy' mumbling Colonel Kurtz and even though his role isn't THAT big (ironic sentence, considering the fact that Brando was 40kg overweight, for his role), he still makes a lasting impression. Also totally crazy is Dennis Hopper in his role as American photojournalist that lives under Kurtz. Robert Duvall also gives a most excellent performance as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore. Rest of the cast consists out of big names as Harrison Ford, Scott Glenn, G.D. Spradlin and a 14-year old Laurence Fishburne, in one of his first movie roles.

The movie has a fantastic and kind if surreal atmosphere, which makes this movie one of the most moody movies ever made, also thanks to the Oscar winning cinematography by Vittorio Storaro.

Perhaps the whole story surrounding the making of this movie (Sheen's heart-attack, the difficult overweight Brando, the drug abuse, the 16 months of filming in the jungle, the three year editing process.) is more legendary than the movie itself, it still is a classic, one of a kind movie, that might very well be the best Vietnam-war movie (yet).

9/10

http://bobafett1138.blogspot.com/
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9/10
Hard to sit through and not terribly good ending
TBJCSKCNRRQTreviews2 September 2004
The only two problems with this movie are, as the one line summary states, the length and the ending. It's so long that unless you're very determined or very patient, you're not gonna sit through it to the end(particularly not if you're watching the "redux" version which I was(un?)lucky enough to see on TV). And the ending seems to suggest that Coppola had either run out of steam or simply didn't know how he should end it. As a war film, it's not particularly realistic, I guess, but more of a piece about the descent into madness that you experience under such dehumanizing circumstances. I found it interesting to see as such a film, but arguably not much else... I also found it interesting to recognize the actors, whom I, for the most part, hadn't seen in a film from, at least before the 80's. If any of this doesn't make sense, don't blame me... blame the fact that I'm writing this as I'm almost falling asleep after the movie. Now, let it be known, that I didn't pay attention to the entire thing; I am neither a man of great patience nor determination(well, not enough, anyway) so I fell asleep once or twice through this film, and actually found myself awaking a few minutes after it had ended, and had to rewind it to catch the ending. Maybe that affected my judgment, maybe not(it probably did). However, what I saw, I mostly liked. The acting is very good. The characters are well-written and nuanced. The action is well-done. The cinematography is very good. All in all, a very good film, if you have the patience and you're sufficiently interested in seeing this very well done piece of film, despite it's very long runtime(maybe you would want to start with the original version, not the "redux" one I saw). I recommend it to just about anyone who really is interested in films and the media of movies. If you can sit through it, you probably should. Any Coppola fan should definitely experience this. 9/10
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9/10
This Movie Isn't About Vietnam; It IS Vietnam
evanston_dad8 November 2007
Francis Ford Coppola's extraordinary Vietnam film is deeply flawed, but in this case the flaws feel so right for the subject matter that they almost make the movie better.

This movie is a perfect marrying of source material and directorial vision. Setting Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" against the backdrop of the Vietnam jungles is brilliant, and the dark odyssey of Martin Sheen's character is so nightmarish, feverish and sweaty that this movie feels more like it IS Vietnam than merely ABOUT Vietnam.

With a number of memorable appearances, notably Robert Duvall as a war-hungry Army officer glorying in the carnage around him; Dennis Hopper as a drugged out photojournalist who's lost his mind to the jungle; and, perhaps most memorable for its pure weirdness, Marlon Brando as Kurtz, the officer who's gone missing and has fashioned himself as a dark God amongst the primitive natives.

The movie totally loses its way toward the end, but that somehow feels right.

Recommendation: Don't watch the redux version if you can avoid it. It's yet further proof that directors usually have good instincts and that what they initially cut from their movies should remain cut.

Grade: A
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9/10
A Near Masterpiece!
namashi_12 October 2010
Francis Ford Coppola is one of the most talented filmmakers to have stepped in Films. He is one master-mind, who can make cinema violent and vibrant at the same time. 'Apocalypse Now' is a yet another classic from the film legend.

Set during the Vietnam War. The plot revolves around two US Army special operations officers. One has been said to have gone insane, and the other, is appointed to chop him off.

'Apocalypse Now' has almost everything on it's cards. But, for some reason, this one cannot be called 'A Complete Masterpiece'. It's about 153 minutes, in which, about 10-15 minutes take away it's glory. Some scenes are boring, especially post the Robert Duvall chapter.

Francis Ford Coppola is at his best. His direction is absolutely brilliant from scene A to Z. John Milius's dominating Screenplay is of near-milestone category. Vittorio Storaro's Cinematography is striking. Editing is razor-sharp.

Performance-Wise: Marlon Brando is electrifying as an insane man. He comes towards the end of the film, and is hardly there for 20-minutes, but he steals the show. Martin Sheen is very convincing as the Hero. Robert Duvall & Dennis Hopper are terrific in small roles. Harrison Ford is efficient. Laurence Fishburne is superb, one of his finest performances folks! Frederic Forrest is good.

On the whole, A Must Watch! Without doubt, One of the finest films associated with the infamous Vietnam War. Two Thumbs Up!
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9/10
Epic Film of Great Proportions!
g-bodyl28 October 2010
This movie is a very powerful movie filled with messages about the Vietnam War. This movie was a classic in 1979 and still is a classic thirty one years later. I heard some reviews about the redux version and how it sucked but I think it did not suck. It was somewhat long, but it was powerful and I was sucked in.

This is about Captain Willard who has been assigned to travel up a river and assassinate the colonel.

The acting is marvelous. I loved the great performances by Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford, and of course the great Marlon Brando.

I read that this movie was very tough to film and the cast and crew had to endure hardships. It's amazing that this movie was even released. I definitely have to give them credit for that.

Overall, this is one of the best movies from the 1970's and it will always remain a classic. I rate this film 9/10.
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9/10
A Movie that Showed Francis Ford Coppola could Direct any Genre,
lesleyharris3026 January 2014
Apocalypse Now is a fantastic movie with a really well developed storyline with a very talented cast that all deliver outstanding performances.This was Francis Ford Coppolla first big movie after directing the first and second Godfather films,and he really proved that he could make great movies outside of the Godfathers genre,this movie is nothing like it,and while it certainly isn't better,it is a brilliant piece of film and will be remembered for years to come.Martin Sheen delivers an outstanding performance,watching his character mature and deal with all the serious events he was experiencing in this war was very interesting and he put some much heart in to his performance.Although my favourite performance in the movie is without a doubt Marlon Brando,his character dosen't come around till about the last thirty minutes,but it is a really inspired and haunting performance,it really did send a shiver down my spine,which is something I never expected from Brando,and was very impressed.Apocalypse Now is without a must see for all fans of war movies.

A US captain is sent to find and kill an insane war hero who has set up a brutal regime deep on the jungle.
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9/10
'Hearts of Darkness' flipped
didi-518 May 2004
Whether you're viewing the original version of Coppola's ‘Apocalypse Now', or the Redux version (which restored an hour of deleted footage from the 1979 release), there are certain things you remember: the mad colonel shrouded in shadow (Marlon Brando in perhaps his last great movie role); the showy performances of the actors travelling through Vietnam (Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper, and especially, Martin Sheen as Willard – who replaced Harvey Keitel in the role and probably did it much better than he would have done); and the music – not only Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries, but also one of the most effective uses of a single song (in this case, ‘The End', by The Doors, which is just perfect).

There are other images, too, of the war-torn province, the soldiers coming to terms with the ripping open of their souls – this is a war movie, pure and simple, yet there is much more going on here than is instantly apparent. Much better than ‘Platoon' or ‘The Deer Hunter', perhaps because it takes more risks and ultimately has a more lasting point to make?
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9/10
Atmospheric and unforgettably brilliant war film
videorama-759-85939117 December 2014
Here's that offbeat Vietnam Coppola masterpiece, with the whop whop whopping sound of choppers cutting the air. Unlike a few Vietnam films, this one is plot driven, and I must say, the story is an original. It's the journey there that makes the film, as well as the fantastic performances, all round, notably Sheen and wildcat Frederick Forrest, although of course it's Duvall as the gung ho Lieutenant, spouting that film's famous line, who steals their thunder, before a couple of bombings happen behind him, where he hardly flinches. Is this guy invincible or what? It's the most memorable part of the film. Sheen plays a Colonel, who's been to Vietnam and back, where he's back in Vietnam, positioned at Saigon. He's summoned on a mission, to find an outstanding Colonel, Kurtz (Brando, giving us an enigmatic character in an unbelievably masterful piece of acting) and terminate (kill) him. Sheen must travel up the river, of course, through the likelihoods of attacks. It's the first Vietnam film I've seen, that features soldier surfing. Did they really do this? It seems surreal, but as a Vietnam pic, it's very real. Hopper, a bloody unappreciated actor, so much so, it's criminal, is unforgettably brilliant as Brando's master and protector who gives us that wonderful monologue, while talking to a caged Sheen, where it's fates being decided. The script is top notch. If ever getting a chance, read itr, it's brilliant. Sheen's tired, wearied voice so much suits the role, from which Harvey Keitel, was originally cast, but just wasn't delivering the goods. Even great actors have their flaws, as even I was dropped from a short movie once. The playboy bunnies that came to visit the troops, via helicopter of course (check out one of Frederick Forest's requests) is beautifully shot. As for the Redux I prefer the original, as it did stall the story, as with the French family, the movie didn't benefit from it all, as this bit, didn't maintain interest, and wasn't warranted. We as an audience, didn't really need to be informed about this. As for gore, it's very restrained, only occasional, but there is that sick, and little disturbing scene near the end, involving a goat being sliced up. Forever a Vietnam masterpiece, AN is an ambitious and larger than life Vietnam film, crafted by a masterful director, whose got unforgettable performances out of his actors, in a brilliant choice of casting. But AN is brilliant, in about everything. What's also unforgettable is the state of that shrimp, before Willard treks off on his mission, to terminate a man, who's mind has flipped one too many switches. Willard does have the choice of roast beef too.
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9/10
Coppola's Vietnam
billcr122 March 2012
Francis Ford Coppola has taken Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and applied it to the Vietnam War as a morality play led by Marlon Brandon at its' center. U.S. army Captain Willard(Martin Sheen) is sent to Saigon on a covert operation to find Colonial Kurtz(Brando)who is not following military orders from his commanders.

Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore(Robert Duvall in his most Manic role~I love the smell of napalm in the morning) leads air attack helicopters in breathtaking sequences of both beauty and horror.

This needs to be seen on a big screen to appreciate the incredible cinematography with visuals that overwhelm the senses. One slight criticism is a slow middle with Playboy bunnies on a USO tour which is expanded in uncut version of the film. Overall, it's is still a great movie.
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9/10
Coppola conveyed the drama and spectacle of this truly outstanding film…
Nazi_Fighter_David11 December 2008
After the success of the first two 'Godfather' films in 1972 and 1974 respectively, Francis Ford Coppola embarked on an ambitious attempt to bring home the reality of the war in Vietnam, which had concluded with the fall of Saigon to the Vietcong in 1975… The plot was loosely based on the book 'Heart of Darkness,' a story by Joseph Conrad about Kurtz, a trading company agent in the African jungle who has acquired mysterious powers over the natives…Coppola retains much of this, including such details as the severed heads outside Kurtz's headquarters and his final words, "The horror… the horror…"

In the film, Sheen plays an army captain given the mission to penetrate into Cambodia, and eliminate, with "extreme prejudice," a decorated officer who has become an embarrassment to the authorities… On his journey up the river to the renegade's camp he experiences the demoralization of the US forces, high on dope or drunk with power…

Although, as a result of cuts forced on Coppola, the film was accused of incoherence when first released, it was by the most serious attempt to get to grips with the experience of Vietnam and a victorious reinvention of the war film genre… In 1980 the film won an Oscar for Best Cinematography and Best Sound…

"Apocalypse Now" was re-released in 2001 with fifty minutes restored… As a result, the motion picture can now be seen as the epic masterpiece it is…
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9/10
One of the Best Viet Nam War Films!
bsmith55529 January 2002
"Apocalypse Now" either in its original version (1979) or the expanded Redux version (2001) is one of the best ever films dealing with the Viet Nam war. The story deals with the trials and tribulations of army Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) who is sent on a secret mission to assassinate a highly decorated army colonel (Marlon Brando) who has reached his breaking point and is causing embarrassment to the U.S. government. To reach his quarry, Willard must sail up a river in a small boat into the forbidden country of Cambodia. The helicopter raid on a small village is a highlight of the journey.

Director Francis Ford Coppula gives us a visually stunning film filled with unforgettable characters. In addition to Sheen (in his best role to date) and Brando, there is a great performance by Robert Duvall as Colonel Kilgore who "loves the smell of napalm in the morning", Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Frederic Forrest and a teen-aged Laurence Fishburne as the boat crew, Dennis Hopper as a spaced out photo journalist, G. D. Spradlin and a young Harrison Ford as the men who send Willard on his quest and in the Redux version, distinguished French actor Christian Marquand as the owner of the French Plantation. If you blink you'll miss Scott Glenn as Sheen's predecessor.

Speaking of the Redux version, although it adds a couple of extra stops on Willard's journey, it really doesn't improve on an already great film. It adds scenes involving the Playboy playmates, a visit to the French Plantation and an extra scene for Brando. But it doesn't expand on the ending which I still find confusing. For example, how does Willard just walk away from Brando's camp with his supporters (who have performed brutal acts already) staring on with glassy-eyed disinterest, particularly in view of the grisly events that have just taken place.

Still in either version, "Apocalypse Now" is a truly great film.
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9/10
Excellent film contains moments of surrealism, drama and dark humour set in the Vietnam war.
hu6754 February 2007
Special forces agent (Martin Sheen) is been assigned to find and murder an stray army officer (Oscar-Winner:Marlon Brando). Who's been brainwashing an tribe and his solders in Cambodia. Which this agent isn't traveling alone, since this agent journeys upriver in a boat with a crew-ship (Albert Hall, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms and Laurence Fishburne). Which leads this crew to a bizarre, troubled journey into the unknown during the late 60's at the Vietnam war.

Directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Trilogy, Gardens of Stone, The Outsiders) made an absolutely, thrilling horrific drama set at the Vietnam war. This film is also loaded with dark humour. This has knockout performances by the cast, including Oscar-Winner:Robert Duvall in a brilliant comical dark Oscar-Nominated role as the Sergeant and Dennis Hopper. This was most troubled pictured to be filmed during 1970's. This film went over-schedule, over budget and taken three years to filmed this movie. But it went out to be one of the biggest hits of 1979 and it become an instant classic.

The original DVD has an sharp anamorphic Widesceen (2.00:1) transfer and an strong-digitally remastered:Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound. DVD includes the original theatrical trailer and an deleted scene with optional commentary by the director.

The latest two-disc set, includes the original theatrical release and the 2001 re-release with 47 minutes of additional footage. DVD has the same transfer as the previous DVD for the picture and sound. This new DVD has an commentary track by the director for both versions. Which this DVD is entitled "The Complete Dossier" with bonus features. This new DVD features interesting new bonuses, including never seen before deleted scenes, featurettes and more. Some will be disappointed with this new DVD, because it's doesn't includes the excellent documentary "Hearts of Darkness". This film is a near masterpiece and it is one of Coppola's best movies. Based on a Novel "Hearts of Darkness" by Joseph Conard. Which it was re-made as a television feature with John Malkovich and Tim Roth. Written by John Milius (Big Wesnesday, Conan the Barbarian, Red Dawn) and director Coppola. Technovision. Both Version (**** 1/2 out of *****).
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9/10
The Jungle Is Giving The Orders Now
slokes18 August 2007
"Apocalypse Now" is one of the most exciting classics in American film, a singular work of art offering both benediction and indictment. Benediction for those who found themselves suffering and dying through the futility that was the Vietnam War. Indictment of those like me who watch its vividly horrifying yet magnetic depiction of man's inhumanity to man and come away asking: "Yes, but what about that poor puppy?"

Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) is an airborne intelligence officer holed up in a Saigon hotel room, his life a wreck as he awaits an order, any order, to rouse him from his soul-killing lethargy. One comes in the form of a mission to track down renegade Special Forces Col. Kurtz, no longer taking orders from the Pentagon as he prosecutes his own war.

"Terminate the colonel's command, sir?"

"Terminate with extreme prejudice."

Everyone talks about the killer beginning, with good reason. Everything from Willard's opening remarks about still being in Saigon to a scene aboard a sampan 90 minutes later is simply remarkable. Every time I watch it, I'm blown away again by some element of it. The great dialogue ("Charging a guy for murder in this place was like giving out speeding tickets at the Indy 500"), the hellacious acting (Sheen is so outstanding in his opening breakdown scene that he hardly needs to twitch a face muscle for the rest of the film and we're still with him all the way), the editing (the attack on the Vietnamese village is so intense it makes the accompanying Wagner music sound like the Archies.)

None of the three elements mentioned above won an Oscar. Editor Walter Murch did win one for the sound of the film, but otherwise this was something of a Waterloo for director Francis Ford Coppola, at least at the time. It took a while for people to recognize "Apocalypse Now" for the masterpiece it is.

Two reasons for that, I think. One is that the film is incredibly dense and ambitious, really requiring video and cable for its greatness to sink in, as was the case with "The Right Stuff". The other is an ending that, while good by itself, is a marked letdown from all that came before. When we meet Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), it's clear he's not equal to the build-up. No one can be, but he decidedly isn't. After hearing him billed as the one American officer successfully outfighting the Viet Cong, we meet instead an overweight pundit who holds court in a kind of Woodstock with weaponry, reading high poetry and declaiming the use of napalm as if Brando hijacked his character with his own legendary leftism.

But there are too many majestic sequences to carp about that very long. Coppola and co-screenwriter John Milius set up the helicopter attack in such a way we root for the Americans though we are painfully aware that the village they are attacking contains women and children. Robert Duvall, sensational as an Air Cav commander named Kilgore, calmly sips coffee as ack-ack flies around his copter cabin. The first time you see it, you're amazed at his cool. Then you realize why shouldn't he be cool? He's holding all the chips. The real heroes are the ones shooting at him.

The sampan scene (that introduces the puppy) shows the Americans in an even worse light, yet the anxiety of the Navy personnel in the sequence is understandable. Nothing is glorified, but the liberal anti-war message is more subtle than we are used to seeing from Hollywood, and thus more effective.

Everything about "Apocalypse Now" is more effective. So what if it didn't win any Oscars, or hold its singular greatness all the way up to the end? What it gives us is more than enough. It's probably too much for many people even today. But that's what's so great about it.
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9/10
The Redux is an Education!
caspian19782 August 2004
The original cinema release of Apocalypse Now was close to perfection. One of the all time great war movies dealing with Vietnam. The Redux, is twice as good. Many of the "lost" or "removed" scenes are controversial. Other scenes are beautifully shot if not add to the original story that was Vietnam. Many of the removed scenes add to Brando and Sheen's character as more of their story is told to the audience. An interesting scene that last for 15 minutes and was taken out entirely was the dinner scene at the French quarters. Here, we see native French "citizens" who refuse to leave Vietnam. Others in the group want to go and fear that much of the French influenced countries are being lost. Very political, the scene takes away from the overall violence that makes up Apocalypse Now. Still, the scene is great and adds to the story of why America was in the war to begin with. A great scene, and only one of the many reasons to check out the Redux version.
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9/10
"The horror... the horror..."
sme_no_densetsu26 February 2009
Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now", a loose adaptation of Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness", is generally considered one of the greatest war films of all time. The movie is based around a mission to track down a renegade officer and terminate his command 'with extreme prejudice'.

The cast is enviable, with Marlon Brando portraying the 'unsound' Colonel Kurtz and Martin Sheen playing the man tasked with bringing him down. Robert Duvall received an Oscar nomination for his spirited portrayal of the eccentric Lieutenant Kilgore. Dennis Hopper also delivered a memorably unhinged performance as a photojournalist who's become a devotee of Kurtz. The rest of the cast is solid but not particularly distinguished.

The story is compelling but those expecting a typical war film may be disappointed. The story has none of the usual 'good guys versus bad guys' Hollywood approach and instead revels in darkness and surrealism. The film is, first and foremost, a journey. I'm not totally satisfied with the ending but I respect that the film makes its points with subtlety and verve.

Coppola's direction is flawless and the Academy Award-winning cinematography by Vittorio Storaro is breathtaking. The film also won an Oscar for its sound, which is excellent. The soundtrack is also notable due to the deft use of the Doors' song "The End". The synthesizer score doesn't really suit my tastes but, even so, I can't deny that parts of it are highly atmospheric.

In the end, this is a unquestionably a must-see film. It's not quite perfect but it showcases great artistry in terms of both story and presentation. By the way, I consider the 2001 'Redux' version to be inferior to the original version.
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9/10
Francis Ford Coppola at its Best
afonsobritofalves13 September 2018
I loved it, one of the best movies ever. One of the best war films and one of Francis Ford Coppola's greatest classics. Highly recommend.
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9/10
an excellent film War with an epic scene of the helicopter.
miguelneto-7493613 September 2016
Apocalypse Now is considered the best war film of all time, and it really is a great movie, starting with the great direction of Francis Ford Coppola (trilogy The Godfather, The Conversation and Bram Stoker's Dracula), the cast is incredible, Martin Sheen this great (the cool thing is that years later his son, Charlie Sheen, would make another film about the Vietnam War, Platoon), the great Marlon Brando, which unfortunately does not appear so much more when it appears steals, Frederic Forest, Robert Duvall, Sam Bottoms, Albert Hall, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford, and etc., a strong cast, the action scenes are great, and has the epic scene that helicopter attack the village in Ride Sound of the Valkyries, incredible scene, the film has heavy scenes, as at the end when they sacrificed the ox, I found the very heavy scene, and the script of the film is good, Apocalypse Now is a masterpiece of war movies, epic scenes, great soundtrack, good photography, fine cast, most do not get to be my favorite movie of War, I think Platoon and Saving Private Ryan a little higher. Note 9.2
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9/10
Visually stunning, easily Coppola's best
baumer22 June 1999
First of all let's get my beef out of the way. I know this is a really stupid reason to give a movie only 9.5 out of ten instead of the 10 that it deserves, but Marlon Brando bugs me. In this movie, he was on screen for no more than fifteen minutes. He was paid an exhorbitant amount of money and he was nothing but a problem on the set. He was constantly too high to do his lines by heart, he was so fat and out of shape that Coppola had to do his scenes in a different shade of light just to make him look plausible as a soldier. His attitude alone put the film over-budget and behind schedule and that bothers me. When one person thinks he is bigger than the collective whole, it takes away from the experience of watching the film. It was impossible for me to watch Brando on screen and not cringe. He was a disgrace to acting and to his profession and I am glad that he is no longer around Hollywood. Having said all that, I will now get to what is good about Apocalypse Now. And that is everything else.

This is certainly one of the best films ever made and it is so because of how dark it is and how realistic it feels. Martin Sheen is so brilliant that it is scary. And of course who can forget Robert Duval's performance. But what makes this film over the top and the classic that it is, is Coppola's attention to detail. The helicopters flying in the background, the explosions over the horizon, the unseen enemy lurking imminently in the darkness. This is the first war movie that I had seen that made me think I knew what the horrors of war were really about. With everything this movie stands for, it is a shame that it lost best director that year and it is really a tragedy that Kramer vs. Kramer beat it out for best picture. What a terrific film.
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9/10
Wild chaos
itamarscomix1 October 2011
Apocalypse Now is a strange anomaly in the history of cinema. It's a complete disaster of a film, that ran into every catastrophe and hurdle imaginable, and failed on almost every level (just ask Francis Ford Coppola himself). And yet, it's also one of the best films ever made.

Apocalypse Now's wild chaos stands in complete contrast with Coppola's three previous films - The Godfather parts 1 and 2, and The Conversation, all of which were precise, complete and, especially the first one, practically flawless. Apocalypse Now, on the other hand, is filled with flaws; it's messy, inconsistent, at times incoherent, and large parts of it appear (and often are) completely improvised. This is, of course, the one film on which Coppola, having financed most of it himself, had complete creative control. It's the film that brought the age of the auteur to its logical end, and it's also the beginning of the end for that period; one year later the auteur was finally killed by Michael Cimino's Heaven's Gate. But while Heaven's Gate is a pompous, pretentious, self-indulgent mess, out of the chaos of Apocalypse Now emerged one of the strongest creations in cinema history.

No description of Apocalypse Now can really capture what it's about; it can be said to be a film about the Vietnam war, or a loose adaptation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, but it's far beyond either one. It's an exploration of the human psyche when it's taken to the most extreme situations of stress and violence - the Vietnam war is used as the setting for that. But, as can be seen in the documentary "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse", the production itself qualifies as well. Both Coppola and the cast explored the full range of human emotions on the film, and that's what makes it more powerful and more timeless than war films like Platoon and The Deer Hunter. Apocalypse Now is the human condition. As Coppola himself said - it's not about the Vietnam war, it IS the Vietnam war. Every failing the film had during production only helps create the chaos and distress that make it so unforgettable and such a landmark in cinema history.
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9/10
Whew!
grahamsj320 December 2002
Warning: Spoilers
This is one powerful antiwar film! The production was nearly derailed by a number of events (typhoon, major star (Martin Sheen) having a heart attack during production, other major star (Marlon Brando) showing up not ready, going way over budget), but I'm thankful that it was ultimately completed. The film world is a better place because of this film's existence. The film is very "deep" and can't fully be understood or enjoyed in one viewing. You should see it, think about it for a few weeks or months, then see it again. This film has several combat scenes but make no mistake, it is an ANTIwar film. I feel that the depiction of many of the US soldiers as spaced-out, drunk, unruly and overall un-military is way overdone. Certainly there were a few like that, but the majority of the US military at that time were a definite step above that level (I know - I served alongside them). All in all, Coppola's production came out brilliantly. Judging by the fact that it was recently RE-shown at the Cannes Film Festival, others also think so. Watch this one - TWICE! It's a significant film!
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9/10
As somebody said: 'We've seen the enemy, and they is us!'
RJBurke19426 January 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I saw AN soon after it was first released. Years later, I forget when, I saw Coppola's documentary about the making of AN. That helped to clear up, for me, some of the very odd jump shifts and cuts that were obvious in the first release of this epic story about...well, I'll get to that below.

First, however, I'll say a word (or few) about the original novella – Heart of Darkness - from Joseph Conrad. Written in the style of Conrad's times – a series of nested first and third person narratives - it's not mainstream for sure. In fact, most of today's reading audience would not read it, I think. Moreover, the whole narrative is a bit of a chore to follow (it's many years since I read it). Conrad, however, wasn't interested in entertaining per se; he was more interested in asking fundamental questions about the human condition and this story went to the heart of the matter: what drives people to do terrible things?

That, in a nutshell, is what AN is all about; and, in this film, you see many people do terrible things. The fact that Coppola dressed up Conrad's central question within a fictional episode of the Vietnam War served two purposes: it brought Conrad's thesis into the mainstream and also allowed Coppola to make his own philosophical statement about the Vietnam War. Well, by all accounts, he certainly succeeded in both objectives. The phrase 'heart of darkness' is bandied about now so often, I'm sure most would know where they first saw it; and that wouldn't have been while reading Conrad, I reckon. Moreover, in all probability, the narrative Coppola constructed around Conrad's question will stand as the definitive criticism about war in general, and the Vietnam War in particular.

And I say that in full recognition of the other fine directors (Milestone, Fuller, Malick, Kubrick, Eastwood etc) who have given us great war movies that also stand as classics.

With the possible exception of Kubrick's Dr Strangelove (1964) – that savage, comedic satire about the Cold War – AN is, I think, the very best satire about war. But, it's not a comedy, although one might be forgiven for laughing at Colonel Kilgore's (Robert Duvall) antics when attacking the Vietcong village, attempting surfboarding during battle, BBQing on the beach, or loving the smell of napalm or "victory", to use the Colonel's word. And not to be missed is Captain Willard's (Martin Sheen, in his best work) coming ashore to met by none other than Coppola portraying a gung-ho documentary producer/director who keeps shouting, "Don't look at the camera, keep going, keep going, don't look at us, look like you're fighting, keep going..." And, all the while, the mortar rounds crump in the distance, the Hueys thump-thump-thump on by, and the people screaming for help go unheard.

The satire continues as Capt. Willard is carried up river aboard a Navy patrol boat towards Cambodia where he must assassinate Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), the officer whose methods, according to top brass, are "unsound" – a euphemism for 'crazy'. Along the way, the crew of the boat and Willard first encounter some jungle jollies for the grunts – a Bunny show, staged at a supply depot on the river that, of course, gets completely out of hand as sex-starved soldiers attempt to get their lusts satisfied. The mute Vietnamese people – outsiders in their own land – watch through chain-link fencing with big eyes and must wonder at the crazed antics of the Americans. Grinning ruefully and shaking his head, Willard gets the boat going again, up river...

Further up, they encounter an all but destroyed Medic unit, mired in mud from incessant rain, and mired in lust from incessant sex with live-in Bunnies, there as 'treatment' for broken bodies and minds. Well, thinks Willard, no doubt: what else is there to do in this crazy and God-forsaken place? Trading some fuel for sex for the crew seemed like a good idea at the time. After which they again carry on up river...

And are stopped by some bizarre French colonialists who are mired in past glories of French colonial conquests and defeats. In a bizarre dinner, Willard is subjected to vitriolic abuse, from some at the table, about the stupidity of the American efforts in Asia and Vietnam in particular. However: there they are – the stupid French – still arguing about the merits of Dien Bien Phu and the French defeat – or victory, depending on your point of view. And, after bedding one of the women, Roxanne (Aurore Clement), Willard continues with his quest...

Which, as he gets closer, he realizes is not what it seems to be. However, it is when he meets Kurtz that his odyssey ends - or so he thinks. Because along that tortuous river, Willard has explored, via voice-over narration, the tortuous machinations of the rationale for and against the bloody conflict in which he had been mired in for years and finally comes to realize that, in the final analysis, he and Kurtz are kindred spirits. Weeks before, the brass had said to Willard: "Cut the head off the snake, and the body dies." And so, Willard completes his mission – physically and, most importantly, symbolically as he cuts power off the radio to air strike operations, thus keeping his location hidden.

Thankfully, the Redux version includes footage that fleshes out the interplay between Willard and Kurtz, so that when the denouement arrives, the reasons for Willard's final decisions are completely rational within the irrational world of war.

For me, the ending of the cinema version never made sense, psychologically or militarily; but, that's studio bosses getting their way, I suppose. The Redux version says it all. It's long (220+ minutes), but I didn't get up even once to get a drink of water.

Highest recommendation for all mature adults.
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