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Author Topic: Apocalypse Now (1979)  (Read 17953 times)
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« Reply #15 on: November 16, 2006, 06:04:43 PM »

Aguirre 2:35:1 Is the OAR. 2.00:1 was only used for home video release, check out the FAQ on disc 1 of the complete dossier which tells you why the ratios are different.

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« Reply #16 on: November 16, 2006, 07:16:18 PM »

Yea, sorry, I just looked into that.
Well, it is cut by the film makers, so I don't see a big problem.
Everything is in frame and center. I never saw it in the theatres, so I just can't tell the difference.

Since that's the case, I doubt the movie will ever be released on OAR then.

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« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2007, 05:49:17 PM »

I watched this movie today, for the first time, and I must say, my reaction to it was more strong than I've had to a film in a long time. Thus, a whole review, therefore, rather than a blurb on the "Last Movie You Saw" thread.

This review, hopefully, will be posted on the IMDB, explaining it's length.

Over the last two years, I have made it my goal to see as many classic movies as possible. I’ve fallen in love with dozens of great movies, like the films of David Lean, “The Wind and the Lion”, “Casablanca”, “The Godfather Part II”, “Sunset Boulevard” - too many too mention. There have been some classics which I’ve not been entirely satisfied with; I’ve been slightly disappointed by “My Fair Lady”, “Spartacus”, and “Citizen Kane”, among others. But at least I enjoyed them, and found some merit in them deserving of classic status.

Today, I had a mind-altering experience. I watched “Apocalypse Now: Redux”, the three-and-a-half hour cut of Francis Ford Coppola’s infamous masterpiece of madness and war. And I learned a very valuable lesson which, as I embark on my college term as a Film Studies Major, I will always keep in mind:

Not all classic movies are great. Not all classic movies are even good. Some are too long, some are excruciating to watch, some try to hard to be “deep” and “meaningful“ when in reality they‘re just a pile of pretentious poo. And then, some movies add an hour of footage to an already long movie and make it agonizingly slow-paced. “Apocalypse Now: Redux” is one of these; it’s a movie that starts off interesting, has flashes of genius, and then, at about the two hour mark, begins a long, slow decline in entertainment value and seemed to be begging for us to accept it as a great movie. Well, sorry, but you don’t get an A just for trying.

Based on Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”, the film concerns Captain Willard (Martin Sheen), a burned-out Special Forces officer who is sent on a suicide mission up a river into Cambodia, to assassinate the renegade Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), now fighting his own private war with an army of Montagnard tribesmen who worship him as a demi-god. As Willard and his companions go further up-river, they find their mission descending further into madness and depravity. By the time he finally reaches Kurtz’s camp, Willard is forced to confront his own perceptions of war and morality.

It boggles my mind to think how this movie is considered THE definitive Vietnam movie. It is not about the Vietnam War, any more than “Raiders of the Lost Ark” is about World War II. Most of the movie, despite all the period details, could take place at any time, any place. This is not, in and of itself, a bad thing, and to be fair, the film does have some intriguing analysis of the Vietnam War and the US involvement there. But it’s not the point; in essence, the movie is just some guys looking for a crazy guy hiding out in the jungle.

Perhaps the movie’s biggest flaw is in its characters. None of the characters are one bit sympathetic. Willard and his crew are pretty much caricatures of Vietnam soldiers - burned-out, half-crazed drug addicted war criminals. Anyone who thinks that these are accurate characterizations of Vietnam soldiers gets their perception of the War entirely from movies like this. Whatever valid points are made about the futility of the war, and about the cruelty of human nature in general, are largely drowned by these two-dimensional characters who “bug out” at the slightest provocation. It’s difficult to care what happens to any of them, and made worse that some of them are downright unlikable. The very young Mr. Clean (Laurence Fishburne) and the spaced-out Lance (Sam Bottoms) are particularly annoying; I kept waiting for the latter to get knocked off, and I would have been relieved if he had.

The film does contain some extremely memorable scenes, and in terms of direction, cinematography, and editing, it is brilliant. The helicopter attack scene with Robert Duvall’s Colonel Kilgore, the confrontation with an unarmed sampan, the tiger sequence - all are brilliantly done set pieces. But the film also contains a lot of superfluous, digressive nonsense, namely the Playboy Bunny scenes and the unnecessary and ridiculously long scenes at the French plantation. These scenes ruin the pacing and help sabotage the fairly effective set-up, which had promised great things. The film is finally done in by the ridiculously overlong and overdone ending at Kurtz’s compound. Marlon Brando’s pontifications about the horrors of war are neither original nor insightful, and after all we‘ve seen, it‘s hard to be anything but numb to his ramblings by this point.

Nor are the performances anything to write home about. Martin Sheen does an excellent job with a two-dimensional character who has little real depth, but otherwise, a fine cast is largely wasted. Marlon Brando’s performance consists of mumbling T.S. Eliot and condemnations of war with shadow on his face - not exactly up to Terry Malloy or Vito Corleone. Dennis Hopper’s journalist is very annoying, and at any rate introduced far too late to be of any importance. Robert Duvall, while also a caricature, is perhaps the most memorable and amusing character of the film. The rest of the cast - Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne, Albert Hall, Frederic Forrest, G.D. Spralin, Harrison Ford - are simply ciphers who fade into the jungle.

“Apocalypse Now” may have been an obsessive labor of love for Francis Ford Coppola, John Milius, and Co.; it may be a technically brilliant film; it may be significant; it may have entertaining moments; it may even have some pertinent things to say about human nature in general and the Vietnam War in particular. But it is not, in my opinion, a great film. Poorly paced, largely incoherent, and very distant, “Apocalypse Now” set me up for a great film in the first two hours and then left me high and dry as it slowly lumbered towards an atrocious conclusion. Call me a philistine or uncultured, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

“The Horror”, indeed.

5/1

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« Reply #18 on: June 21, 2007, 12:15:34 AM »

You got something right - most of the characters are extremely annoying,and I mean annoying.

Was this the first time you watched this movie?

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« Reply #19 on: June 21, 2007, 01:58:48 AM »

It used to be a great film and just shows that sometimes artists have to be protected for themselves - don't mess around with your work years later...
I watched it about 3 times in the cinema between 1979 and 1990. Strong important film of the 70's, one of the last
great ones of New Hollywood. Flaws here and there, sure. But then again, it's a miracle the film ended up in a watchable version anayway. See HEARTS OF DARKNESS, my favorite documentary about film making (FULL TILT BOOGIE is great as well). Great stuff nevertheless.

Last year I took the fact that my lady never saw it as occasion to finally watch the REDUX-DVD which slept here on the shelf for years. It was great to see new scenes... But the film is gone. Much much to long now, the impact effectively destroyed. I would never have released it as a single release. Both versions in a box with the message 'Please watch this film in its original 1979 presentation first'. My lady in 1979 was haunted by the film, my lady last year had problems sitting through it.
I just did a reconstruction of Hopper's version of EASY RIDER for Cinema Retro. Before he left the editing process the film was probably over two and half hours long. THe first 20 minutes ended up being 3 minutes long in the final version! As admirer of that film I would kill to see an earlier longer version (no actual footage survived), but I'm sure released at that length it would never have had such an impact.

So leave the masterpieces alone.

« Last Edit: June 21, 2007, 04:29:27 AM by mike siegel » Logged


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« Reply #20 on: June 21, 2007, 02:10:18 AM »

I'm guessing the main problem of this movie is that Coppola wanted to actually tell the whole story about Vietnam,to give to the viewers of the movie everything he thought they need to know about that war and of course he got lost...
The position of the French,the whole absurd of that war,the carelessness of the American commanding staff,natives,kids in the war,and so on..There were so many important things to mention and incorporate in the movie,but it wasn't easy.

That is why I prefer much more Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket,in which Stan tells one part of the story,but that part is flawless;from the initial training of the young boys and the impact of their lives to the final message There are no heroes in war.

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« Reply #21 on: June 21, 2007, 06:05:11 AM »

You got something right - most of the characters are extremely annoying,and I mean annoying.

Was this the first time you watched this movie?

Yes, it was the first time.

To be fair though, I'd probably like the shorter version better, since the added footage is what really took me out of it. I was enjoying it well enough until the scene at the French plantation. In and of itself, it was a well-written/acted scene, but it just went on and on and on, doing nothing but distracting from the plot. I was never able to get back into the movie after that.

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« Reply #22 on: June 21, 2007, 09:28:20 AM »

I'm happy you finally watched this Groggy.  Afro

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« Reply #23 on: June 21, 2007, 10:15:28 AM »

I've seen only the Redux version and still think this is a masterpiece. Yes, I could do without the scene at the French plantation, propably the film is much better without it. But still, in this form, this is one of my favorite films (though, I prefer Aguirre).

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« Reply #24 on: June 21, 2007, 10:54:18 AM »

I'm one of the few who enjoyed the French Plantation scene.

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« Reply #25 on: June 21, 2007, 12:19:06 PM »

As someone said before, the scene is good but it makes the movie run too long.

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« Reply #26 on: June 21, 2007, 04:28:13 PM »

As someone said before, the scene is good but it makes the movie run too long.

Basically, the whole scene was just a rant by John Milius about the Vietnam War. I like Milius better when his tongue is in his cheek (i.e. "The Wind and the Lion", which I watched for the eighty-fifth time today).  Grin

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« Reply #27 on: June 21, 2007, 04:48:55 PM »

Groggy, well done. Your review is right on the money in every respect. (But perhaps it is a little unfair to take on Redux without considering the theatrical cut separately, which is naturally a tighter film). It's obvious we don't need to worry about you in your film studies program, you'll be able to hold your own there. Go forth, companero, and give your professors hell.

Anyway, here's my rating of Groggy's review (out of 10): Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro Afro

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« Reply #28 on: June 21, 2007, 05:02:20 PM »

I'm glad you liked my review Dave. Afro

I have an advantage in that I actually enjoy analyzing/reviewing films. I did a 20-page research argument on Robert Bolt's plays and movies for English last year, and I honestly had great fun doing it, even though some of his lesser-known plays are pretty bizarre (ever read "Gentle Jack"? That's a weird one). I do have one weakness, though: foreign-language films. But I'm sure that will be remedied in due time. Wink

I'll give the theatrical cut of "Apocalypse Now" a chance when I'm able to - I'm sure I'll enjoy it more than the mess that is "Redux". I certainly appreciate the themes that Coppola, Milius, et al were trying to get across, and if I really wanted to I could right a rave review with my hands tied behind my back.

(My problem with the depiction of Vietnam vets, BTW, stems largely from the fact that my dad served two tours in 'Nam and he never did drugs or see, let alone take part in, any of the atrocities which movies like this and "Platoon" insist were an every day occurence.)

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« Reply #29 on: June 21, 2007, 05:20:34 PM »

(My problem with the depiction of Vietnam vets, BTW, stems largely from the fact that my dad served two tours in 'Nam and he never did drugs or see, let alone take part in, any of the atrocities which movies like this and "Platoon" insist were an every day occurence.)
My father also served two tours honorably. We have that in common, Grogs.

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