Blu-ray and DVD Reviews

Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier

Reviewed by: Scott Chitwood
Movie Rating:
6 out of 10
Extras Rating:
9 out of 10
Movie Details:
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Rating: R

Starring:
Marlon Brando as Colonel Walter E. Kurtz
Martin Sheen as Captain Benjamin L. Willard
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
Kerry Rossall as Mike from San Diego

Special Features:
Commentary by: Francis Ford Coppola (both films)

Contains both the 1979 and 2001 versions

Lost "monkey sampan" scene

Outtake: Marlon Brando's complete reading of T.S. Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men"

12 never-before-seen segments from the cutting room floor

A/V Club featurettes: "The Birth of 5.1 Sound," "Ghost Helicopter Flyover," "The Synthesizer Soundtrack by Bob Moog,', and "Technical FAQ"

The Post Production of Apocalypse Now featurettes: "A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now," "The Music of Apocalypse Now," "The Sound of Apocalypse Now," "The Final Mix"

"Apocalypse Then and Now" retrospective

"PBR Streetgang" - cast members' reunion

"The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now"

Redux Marker - special function to mark the added scenes and expanded scenes of Apocalypse Now Redux

Other Info:
Widescreen
Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround Sound
Spanish Subtitles
Running Time (1979 Version): 153 Minutes
Running Time (2001 Version): 202 Minutes

Synopsis:
"Apocalypse Now" was originally released in 1979. "Apocalypse Now Redux" was released in 2001.

In the middle of the Vietnam War, Captain Benjamin L. Willard is given a top secret mission. He is assigned to track down the rogue Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, who is believed to be psychotic, and terminate him. Willard takes control of a patrol boat and heads up river into Cambodia where Kurtz is hiding out. Along the way Willard faces a bizarre array of sights and characters that test his own sanity. But when he comes face to face with Kurtz, will he be able to carry out his mission?

"Apocalypse Now Redux" is rated R for disturbing violent images, language, sexual content and some drug use.

Mini-Review:
"Apocalypse Now" is one of those movies I always intended to watch but for one reason or another I never got around to it. I had seen bits and pieces of it over the years. I knew the plot, the stories behind it, and even some of the quotes ("I love the small of napalm in the morning!"). But for whatever reason, I never watched the whole thing till now despite the fact that it's universally considered a classic. So what did I think?

I really enjoyed the first half of the movie. The setup of the plot and the buildup to the climactic confrontation with Kurtz was really intriguing. The film looked great, the characters were engaging, and story had me hooked. The idea of a man bordering on psychosis hunting another man already over the edge was quite interesting. I also really enjoyed seeing performances by young Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fisburne, and Martin Sheen. The fight scenes were also quite impressive. The surfing obsessed Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore also was an amusing and unsettling addition to the story.

The second half of the film was another issue altogether. The story gets progressively darker and infinitely trippier. There were a number of surreal moments that I didn't care for at all. It didn't help matters that I hated the 70's synthesizer soundtrack to the movie. It truly dates the film and, despite winning an Academy Award, it was grating on the nerves. The final result for me, at least, was a movie that was an interesting footnote to film history, but nowhere near being a favorite of mine.

Chances are if you're a fan of "Apocalypse Now," you already own a copy of the DVD. So the real question is whether or not this version has any bonus features you can't live without. The answer is that it probably doesn't. From what I understand, almost everything on this DVD was on previous versions. In fact, those older versions had more bonus features such as the documentary "Hearts of Darkness", some additional bonus features, and a few other items. Here's what you will find on "The Complete Dossier". This is the actual text from the inside cover:

Disc One

Watch the films with Francis Coppola: Director Francis Coppola introduces both Apocalypse Now, hi classic 1979 film, and his acclaimed 2001 Apocalypse Now Redux version (with 49 additional minutes of controversial and unusual scenes that were added to the original film). Coppola recounts the obstacles he faced during the original film's production while describing the "definitive version" in 2001 – a film closer to the one Coppola had originally envisioned. Both films include audio commentary by the celebrated director.

The Hollow Man (17 min): A complete reading of T.S. Eliot's 1925 poem by Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), excerpts of which are used in Apocalypse Now. This complete recitation has never before been seen outside the Zoetrope cutting room.

Monkey Sampan (3 min): An unusual "lost scene" from the original shooting.

Additional Scenes (26 min): From the cutting room floor: 12 never-before-seen sequences that reveal new facets to the location and characters, including Kurtz (Brando), the Photojournalist (Dennis Hopper) and Colby (Scott Glenn).

A/V Club Featurettes: "A special section of bonus extras for young filmmakers, techies and passionate Apocalypse Now fans! Enjoy a detailed look at the film's remarkable achievements in sound and image:"
The Birth of 5.1 Sound (6 min): Apocalypse Now was the first advertised feature film to use a then new six-channel "Stereo Surround" process pioneered by Dolby Laboratories and the filmmakers at Zoetrope. The film won an Oscar for Best Sound. A brief history of film sound is presented.

Ghost Helicopter Flyover (4 min): An audio demonstration of the three-dimensional ‘stereo surround' effects used in the film.

The Synthesizer Soundtrack by Bob Moog: An in-depth article by the late inventor of the Moog synthesizer and renowned electronic music pioneer, from the January 1980 issue of ‘Contemporary Keyboard Magazine,' that spotlights Apocalypse Now's groundbreaking, Oscar nominated synthesized score.

Technical FAQ: Six of the most frequently asked questions about the film…with answers!

Disc Two

The Post Production of Apocalypse Now: Much has been said about Francis Coppola's tortured cinematic undertaking, amidst disasters both natural and personal. But also consider the incredible, less-publicized three-year journey of post production. These four featurettes cover the fascinating stories of editing, music and sound through the eyes and ears of Coppola and his team of artists and technicians; show the collaboration of star Martin Sheen, writers John Milius and Michael Herr, and drummer Mickey Hart of the Grateful Dead chronicled on film by Eleanor Coppola and her team; and culminate in the amazing final sound mix that took over nine months to complete in the tiny basement studio of Coppola's San Francisco HQ.

A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now (18 min)
The Music of Apocalypse Now (15 min)
Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now (15 min)
The Final Mix (3 min)

Apocalypse Then and Now (4 min): Cannes Film Festival, May, 2001: Coppola presents his new, longer version of Apocalypse Now to the Cannes Film Festival – exactly 21 years after he showed his first version at the Palais Croisette as a ‘work in progress' in 1979. The film was a triumph on both occasions, winning the Palm d'Or in 1979 and then garnering an eight-minute standing ovation at the Palais des Festivals when Redux was shown in 2001. Coppola reflects on the reaction to the film, both at the time of its original release and today, while longtime Coppola collaborator, editor and sound guru Walter Murch discusses the re-cutting of a film that took nearly three years (1977-1979) to edit the first time around.

PBR Streetgang (4 min): The crew of the Navy patrol boat ‘Streetgang' gathers in the summer of 2001 to celebrate the launch of Apocalypse Now: Redux. Join Albert Hall (The Chief), Frederic Forrest (Chef), Sam Bottoms (Lance Johnson, the Surfer) and Laurence Fishburne (Mr. Clean) as they reminisce about the making of Apocalypse Now. Twenty-four years earlier, this group of young actors – including then 14-year-old Fishburne - became inseparable during the weeks of Los Angeles rehearsals Coppola had organized in preparation for the storied 238-day shoot in the Philippines.

The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now (4 min): Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro was determined to make the 2001 release prints of the expanded film as vivid and beautiful as he had envisioned when he photographed the film 25 years earlier, winning an Oscar for Best Cinematography. Coppola and Storaro discuss a revived ‘dye printing' process that was used to make all prints for the North American release and emphasize the importance of preserving our aging film legacy.

Redux Marker: When this special DVD feature is turned on by the viewer, an on-screen ICON will appear only during footage that was added to make the 2001 version called Apocalypse Now Redux.


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