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"Apocalypse Now: Full Disclosure Edition" {Blu-ray}- (Wayne)
Wayne Klein
Studio: Lion's Gate
Release Date:
Special Features:

Commentary tracks, "Hearts of Darkness" documentary, 48 page booklet, deleted scenes, radio broadcast featuring Orson Welles, interviews, 2001 Cannes Interview with Roger Ebert and Francis Ford Coppola (uncut) Rated: R


"Apocalypse Now almost described what happened to Francis Ford Coppola himself with this film. Originally Copppola was just going to produce and George Lucas was going to direct but Coppola eventually found himself in the director's chair in the Phillipines and with millions of dollars of sets destroyed by bad weather. Coppola found himself on a journey to the heart of darkness as production continued endlessly, Coppola continued to rewrite and reshoot footage, Martin Sheen had a heart attack and Coppola had what can best be described as a nervous break down. ---

Image & Sound:

This new deluxe Blu-ray edition has been prepared from a new high definition transfer that has been color corrected and is presented in the correct aspect ratio for the first time. The new transfer looks quite good for the original version of the film (my preferred version)and "Redux" Coppola's rethink of the original film (which has some worthwhile moments and is interesting as an alternate take of the original vision but can't possibly replace the original flawed masterpiece). ***

"AN" doesn't look perfect--it appears based on screen captures from Coppola's original HD master to this version that some additional digital noise reduction was applied to the finished product perhaps to reduce the bit rate consumption. While this means that the film COULD have looked better, it has never looked this good before in ANY presentation with better detail and textures. Colors are slightly different here when compared to any of the DVD editions of the film and are a bit more subdued (perhaps by choice since FFC himself supervised the original HD transfer). ***

Audio sounds quite nice with a very active 5.1 mix. ***

This edition also includes Eleanor Coppola's documentation of the insanity that surrounded the making of this film; "Heart of Darkness" is a marvelous documentary and receives its first HD transfer. Keep in mind that it was originally shot in 16mm so while it doesn't quite have the sharper look of the original film (or "Redux"), it has never looked better on home video. ---

Special Features:

We get a huge amount of extras including the following new material--Francis Ford Coppola interviewing Martin Sheen (which is quite interesting given their shared experience and recollection of the insanity of the shoot); Coppola with screenwriter John Milius (Coppola recognizes Milius' important contribution to the script since HE wrote the original drafts that Coppola ended up working with as director); Orson Welles (who originally was going to direct a film version of "Heart of Darkness" for RKO before settling on "Citizen Kane")in a radio production of Joseph Conrad's novel; the entire interview of Coppola by Roger Ebert. ***

Carried over from the previous edition are Coppola's audio commentary as well as both versions of the film (that way you can watch which version you want--although be advised this has the ORIGINAL 70mm theatrical ending which fades out WITHOUT the footage of the destruction of Kurtz's compound--that was added later to the 35mm print when it went into wide release although that footage IS included as with the previous edition as an extra). The bulk of the original special features are carried over to this edition as well. Due to time constraints I haven't had time to dig into all the other extras that were carried over from the previous edition although it appears on the surface to be exactly the same as the previous edition from Paramount Home Video. ***

"Hearts of Darkness" includes a commentary track by Coppola and his wife Eleanor and on that same disc we also get excerpts from Millius'original script with Coppola's notes, storyboard gallery as well as marketing archive. I haven't had a chance to do more than peak at "Hearts of Darkness" (although I did have the previous edition which also had the commentary track on DVD)and haven't had a chance to really look at the extras on this disc so I can't provide any info on them beyond citing that they are here. ***

We also get a lovely 48 page soft cover book with behind-the-scenes photos, an excerpt of the guide given to the production personnel on their arrival on location pointing out restaurants, etc. and a copy of the pages from Coppola's edition of Joseph Conrad's novel that Coppola kept with him for inspiration and notes. ---

Final Words:

"Apocalpyse Now" would be Coppola's truly last great film (although he would make some exceptional ones in its wake)and proved to almost be his own personal apocalpyse where the director began to question the wisdom of making the film in the first place. While it isn't a flawless classic (what is?), even it's flaws in the original version are made up for by the ambition and vision Coppola delivers. In the case of "Redux" it's an interesting variation on the original but can't quite compete and comes across almost as an after thought--an interesting one--but one that doesn't quite pay off as well as the original film did in 1979 and even today.


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