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Apocalypse Now Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Winner! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! Academy Award Nomination! 

By Jeff Shannon

In the tradition of such obsessively driven directors as Erich von Stroheim and Werner Herzog, Francis Ford Coppola approached the production of Apocalypse Now as if it were his own epic mission into the heart of darkness. On location in the storm-ravaged Philippines, he quite literally went mad as the project threatened to devour him in a vortex of creative despair, but from this insanity came one of the greatest films ever made. It began as a John Milius screenplay, transposing Joseph Conrad's classic story "Heart of Darkness" into the horrors of the Vietnam War, following a battle-weary Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) on a secret upriver mission to find and execute the renegade Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has reverted to a state of murderous and mystical insanity. The journey is fraught with danger involving wartime action on epic and intimate scales. One measure of the film's awesome visceral impact is the number of sequences, images, and lines of dialogue that have literally burned themselves into our cinematic consciousness, from the Wagnerian strike of helicopter gunships on a Vietnamese village to the brutal murder of stowaways on a peasant sampan and the unflinching fearlessness of the surfing warrior Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall), who speaks lovingly of "the smell of napalm in the morning." Like Herzog's Aguirre: The Wrath of God, this film is the product of genius cast into a pit of hell and emerging, phoenix-like, in triumph. Coppola's obsession (effectively detailed in the riveting documentary Hearts of Darkness, directed by Coppola's wife, Eleanor) informs every scene and every frame, and the result is a film for the ages.

Digitally remastered with 49 minutes of previously unseen footage, Apocalypse Now Redux is the reference standard of Francis Coppola's 1979 epic. A metaphorical hallucination of the Vietnam War, the film was reconstructed by Coppola and editor Walter Murch to enrich themes and clarify the ending. On that basis Redux is a qualified success, more coherent than the original while inviting the same accusations of directorial excess. The restored "French plantation" sequence adds ghostly resonance to the war's absurdity, and Willard's theft of Colonel Kurtz's beloved surfboard adds welcomed humor to the film's nightmarish upriver journey. An encounter with Playboy Playmates seems superfluous compared to the enhanced interplay between Willard and his ill-fated boat crew, but compensation arrives in the hellish Kurtz compound, where Willard's mission--and the performances of Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando--reach even greater heights of insanity, thus validating Redux as the rightful heir to Coppola's triumphantly rampant ambition.

Academy Awards

Apocalypse Now received Academy Awards for Cinematography (Vittorio Storaro) and Sound (Walter Murch, Mark Berger, Richard Beggs and Nat Boxe). Apocalypse Now also received Academy Awards nominations for Best Picture (Francis Ford Coppola - Producer), Supporting Actor (Robert Duvall), Directing (Francis Ford Coppola), Writing (John Milius & Francis Ford Coppola), Art Direction/Set Decoration (Dean Tavoularis, Angelo Graham and George R. Nelson), and Film Editing (Richard Marks, Walter Murch, Gerald Greenberg and Lisa Fruchtman).

Share Your Memories!

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Your Memories Shared!

"The first time I saw this film, I thought it was horribly dark and depressing. However, in the years since its release, I've seen it three more times and have come to appreciate the mastery of this work! In particular, I am impressed with the memorable dialogue, the superb acting, and the thought-provoking symbolism. Be sure to see the redux version which includes scenes omitted from the theatrical release."

--cybergal

 

FILM FACTS

Buy this VHS movie from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this DVD from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Buy this soundtrack from Amazon.com! (Click here!)Rated ROn an American Film Institute 100 list (click here to learn more)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Stars: Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Lawrence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, G.D. Spradlin, Harrison Ford, Scott Glenn, Tom Mason, Colleen Camp

Released: August 15, 1979

Availability: DVD VHS CD


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