Apocalypse Now Redux

Director Francis Ford Coppola
Starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
Rated R
Score 5/6

During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.

My dearest aunty suggested that I review Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmakers Apocalypse. However, before watching a documentary about the making of a movie its only right that I watch the movie that the documentary is about. Even if it’s the extended version of that movie.

Its interesting how the special editions of different movies are received. If we were to compare movies with legacies on the level of Apocalypse Now and the original Star Wars Trilogy. It should be noted that the total runtime of the changes made by George Lucas for the special edition trilogy pale in comparison to the changes that Francis Ford Coppola made for the Redux version of Apocalypse Now. The changes Ford Coppola made to one movie is roughly 4.45 times longer than the total changes Lucas made to the original Star Wars Trilogy. Ford Coppola’s changes to Apocalypse Now that brought about the Redux version work out to be the length of one episode of Breaking Bad.

Now it is time to get down to business, for those of you who might not know Apocalypse Now was based on Heart of Darkness a novella released in 1899 by Joseph Conrad. It should also be noted that Apocalypse Now is one of the three times that Conrad’s novella had been adapted for the screen. It was originally adapted for American TV in 1958 and there was a telemovie titled Heart of Darkness released in 1993 directed by Nicolas Roeg starring John Malkovich as Kurtz.
I can’t say with certainty that I have watched Apocalypse Now (or the Redux version) if I have its been well over ten years since I last watched it. Apocalypse Now has such a significant cultural impact that even if you haven’t watched there is high chance that you have a vague idea what is about considering how many times it has been referenced by TV shows like The Simpsons and the importance quotes like “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”.

This is a really beautiful shot movie (of particular note is the helicopter attack scene) and is rightful entry of that long list of movies that everybody should watch at least once. I thoroughly enjoyed Robert Duval’s performance as Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore. Duval brought to Kilgore an interesting balance of job competence and craziness. What struck really struck me about the Kurtz wasn’t so much Marlon Brando’s performance was Dennis Hopper’s photojournalist’s description of Kurtz’s teachings and character immediately reminded me of the craziness of Gary Busey and to a lesser extent an eccentric French teacher I had in year 7. Martin Sheen’s narration throughout the movie was an interesting move by the filmmakers and it seemed to give the movie a slight film noir but the reason for the narration was clever.
Now maybe I should have watched the original version instead of Apocalypse Now Redux because towards the end makes the movie feel like its dragging and making it a chore to watch.