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In my opinion, Coppola's best work
jokeco6821 December 2004
My favourite movie of all time. This was a flawed piece of work by Coppola and seeing the documentary 'Heart of Darkness' made it even more compelling. Coppola at this point was king of Hollywood after making 'the Godfather' and 'GodfatherII' and had developed the ego necessary to even dare try to make a movie like 'Apocalypse Now'. Through sheer arrogance he went to the Phillipines with a partial script and thought he would know what he would do when he got there. Just as Captain Willard thought he would know what to do once he got to Col. Kurtz's compound. And just like Willard, he DIDN'T know what he was going to do once he got there. This is such a masterpiece of American cinema, beautifully photographed and the river is such a perfect metaphor and backdrop for the story. What I like most about 'Apocalypse Now' is that it offers no answers or conclusions. Consequently, because of this open-endedness, it infuriates some viewers who like their movies to be much more obvious.

This movie defies categorization. Some call it a war movie which it isn't at all, really it is more of a personal study of man. The best pic about Vietnam is 'Platoon' in my opinion and if a viewer is seeking a retelling of the Vietnam War go there first for answers.

Coppola should be commended for his take on the bureaucracy of war which he conveys quite effectively with the meeting with Gen.Corman and Lucas (Harrison Ford) and the Playmate review. The sheer audacity of Kilgore makes him an unforgettable character and the dawn attack will always be a Hollywood classic.

It is an almost psychedelic cruise to a very surreal ending which makes it a movie not accessible to everyone. Very challenging to watch but rewarding as well. I could offer my explanations on each scene but that would be totally pointless. This movie is intended for interpretation and contemplation as opposed to immediate gratification.

A little footnote, definitely if your a first-time viewer of Apocalypse Now, watch the original version first, the 'Redux' version is, I think, more intended for the hardcore fan and is more of a curiosity than a 'new and improved' version of the movie
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The Dark Side of Man
ramstar2214 August 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" is not a Vietnam War film. Do not confuse it with one. It is set to the back drop of the war, but it is a metaphorical exposition on the deteriorating effects that war has on the human psyche. It is also one of the most audacious films ever made, produced, or even conceived (second to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. To call it a masterpiece would be an understatement of proportions as ambitious as the film's production levels.

Opening with no credits and following a memorable first scene playing to the tune of the Doors "The End" as Martin Sheen's Captain Benjamin L. Willard hallucinates to images of helicopters and napalm, the plot is essentially laid out in the first 15 minutes. Willard's mission is to "terminate... with extreme prejudice" Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has invariably gone AWOL in the far reaches of the Cambodian jungle and, as told by his general, is "out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field commanding troops." Kurtz is a delusional Colonel now being worshipped by a large group of followers who have dubbed him a god. For Willard, this covert operation seems somewhat more manageable than actual combat, yet, the journey he is about to take will be a personal quest that will challenge the limits of his human behavior.

Teaming up with a small crew, they embark down the vast reaches of the river in a rickety boat. Along the way, Willard educates himself on all things Kurtz. During Sheen's raspy voice over, he details his thoughts on the abundance of material he reads. Kurtz was a highly decorated and respected Green Beret. He was a normal man with a family, until a part of him succumbed to the horrors of human brutality and he led himself down the path that Willard is being led. The descent into the jungle is marked by a mesmerizing aura that echoes the battles being fought not to far away. Eventually the power of the experience weights on the group as drugs and a sort of solitary confinement attacks their senses. But Willard seems unfazed and desensitized in his quest to find Kurtz. As he reads about this mythic figure, he is drawn to the man's power and why he has become what he has become. We know that Willard's slow decay will parallel that of Kurtz's.

Marlon Brando has been revered for decades. His presence: unmatchable. His genius: undeniable. But for those unacquainted with his acting prowess and unaccustomed to his physical nuance, Brando can be perceived, in the eyes of an uncompromising film-goer, as a hack. He is most certainly not. Brando was difficult to work with, hard to interpret and impossible to understand, but his talent for unintelligible rants and unparalleled monologues is irrefutable. The man obviously knew what he was doing even if we didn't. His Colonel Kurtz is a being of limitless delusions and continual profundity.

If the film is any indication of the journeys into hell than Francis Ford Coppola's actual experience with making this masterpiece is a true life account of one man's fanatical struggle to produce a movie. It is reported that during the film's 200 plus day principle photography schedule, Coppola contemplated suicide. The film was not only an undeniable struggle to make; it is a grueling film to watch. Coppola's sweat and blood seep through the pores of the steamy locals and his dedication filters through the orifices of Martin Sheen's haunted soldier Willard.

I can not help but feel a warm sense of nostalgia for this type of film. At the dawn of all that was original and unprecedented, films that challenged as well as stimulated were commonplace. Audacity aside, Apocalypse Now is pure film-making. My respect and admiration for Mr. Coppola is of the highest order. But I shudder at the return to what has become the norm for today's standards for film: a lack of innovation. It is not simply the unoriginality of the world of cinema today; it is the fact that nobody seems to care to tell a story anymore or to tell one with heart. But we still have the great ones like Coppola's masterpiece, a film which bathed in its ability to give us something deeper than that which we could comprehend.

That depth in Apocalypse Now is the step into madness. The killing can disturb. The loss of innocence can unhinge. But it is the damage from within; the countless barrages of images that distress, unnerve and detach us from our everyday world and the memories that plague our deepest thoughts that eventually segregates us from humanity and propels us into the realm of the instinctual, the savage and the animalistic. If the thought of killing does not provide sustenance, the act of killing provides man with its fundamental catharsis.
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This Is the End...
notoriousCASK23 March 2018
Warning: Spoilers
Apocalypse now is not only the best war film ever made but it's also one of the best films of all time as it won the prestigious Palme d'Or at Cannes and it's constantly recognized as a benchmark in cinematic history. Based on the novel "Hearts of darkness" by Joseph Conrad this film is not so much about the Vietnam war, it is about war in general and serves as a deep study into the dark places of the human soul and how war can affect the individual. Apocalypse now depicts a timeless story about a universal human struggle, the duality of man, consisting of morality, the savage primordial instinct and what every person chooses to base his actions upon.

The film has a simple premise, US Army Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) is ordered on a dangerous mission into Cambodia through a river, to assassinate a renegade, Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has gone insane and set himself up as a god among the local native tribe. It's an accessible premise, allowing for the film to be consumed by even the most casual movie watchers, and yet this film is anything but shallow. It's a journey into madness and hysteria, an observation into the darkness of humanity. I could write a book analysing this film, there's just so much to talk about. My interpretation is that the river is not only the passage to find Kurtz but also the descent into madness and a reflection to the character's inner journey towards evil that is accomplished through the main theme of the movie, dehumanization. The journey through the river is also reminiscent of Dante's perilous journey through unspeakable surroundings and horrors. There are three major stops before Kurtz and each stop on the river furthers the dehumanization that war has brought, as well as implanting a new type of evil to the characters.

The first stop is with lieutenant Kilgore. That stop shows that Kilgore and his soldiers have been consumed by the love of war after they dehumanized the enemy. Their love of war has blinded them so much that they see no negative and can't comprehend the consequences the war will bring. In one scene of the movie, the "heroic" marching of the helicopters to lay wrath upon their enemies, Captain Kilgore uses Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries to pump his soldiers and scare his enemies and like the mythical creatures Valkyries, he is the decider of who lives and who dies on the battle. At this stage, although everyone has removed any shred of humanity from the enemy, they still understand the innocent.

The second stop is the USO show where we see the loss of morality as well as the dehumanization of the innocent. At this stop we see that a soldier dehumanized everyone aside from himself, becoming very selfish and losing any compassion for anyone but themselves. The soldiers that have passed through this stop would be willing to put anyone at risk for their instant gratification. Now as the characters go deeper into the river metaphorically they go deeper into themselves to explore their own evils which are becoming more apparent. The last stop before Kurtz is the Do-long Bridge and it's at this point that a soldier has gone too far, he's experienced so much trauma and so much evil that he lost grip with his own sanity and thus he dehumanized himself and can't return to a normal state of mind.

The final stop on the journey is Kurtz, at this point only Willard and Kurtz have passed the madness stage and they are competing for the heart of darkness, the ultimate evil that we all have the capacity to have. Kurtz is in possession of the heart of darkness as he associates evil with strength. Bypassing the madness stage he's able to see the world for what it truly is, filled with hypocrites and he decides to bury his hatred and simply act on instinct. Willard at the end of the film rises from the river reborn as a new man ready to obtain the heart himself. He kills Kurtz and leaves the compound with his heart corrupted. In the end Willard has a choice, succumb to evil and stay in the compound having taken Kurtz's place as the leader of the savages or abandoning them into their fates...throwing his weapon, he emerges from the bottomless pit he had fallen through the heart of darkness and by saving Lance and choosing not to exterminate the tribe, he has completed his personal journey and tested his soul to the very limit. Both of them at any point could have just stopped but they didn't, they wanted to explore the depths of their souls and just how much further they could go.

The film presents this study of the human psyche through Carmine Coppola's eerie score, hypnotic images, and some haunting scenes, essentially taking the viewer into the depths of hell. It's here where Coppola succeeds the most. His ability to create a living "hell" is so amazing, and it perfectly captures the mindset of the soldiers. It provides a commentary on war and religion, making the subtext even vaster. The film is weirdly beautiful and a true picture of the evil and hell from within ourselves.

The cinematography by Vittorio Storaro is phenomenal and it provides a hallucinatory feeling throughout the film's runtime - from the faces of the losing minds covered in endless sweat, and the sight of figures within the shadows to a dark trenched riverbank - everything is captured in a stunning manner, conveying the hellish imagery and still taking the viewer's breath away. Coppola's direction transcends itself, the camerawork is at its absolute best when it comes to the use of lighting and shadows, most notable during Col. Kurtz's first appearance. The troubled production obviously didn't hurt the film at all, and most likely increased the dark quality it portrays. Apocalypse Now is beautifully haunting, utterly hellish, terrifyingly intelligent, and magnificently wrought, it slowly pushes you into the horror and absurdity of war, but also its meaningfulness and beauty. Not only is this one of the best films ever made, it's a psychoanalytical journey into places none of us would dare to venture to on our own. It is Francis Ford Coppola's magnum opus as he sacrificed everything to make it work. Rightfully deserving its place as one of the greatest on the cinematic pantheon, immortal for its contribution to cinema, and a truly unforgettable experience, Apocalypse Now is cinema at its most complete, crystalline and pure.
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My All Time Favourite Movie
Theo Robertson23 June 2004
I first saw APOCALYPSE NOW in 1985 when it was broadcast on British television for the first time . I was shell shocked after seeing this masterpiece and despite some close competition from the likes of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING this movie still remains my all time favourite nearly 20 years after I first saw it

This leads to the problem of how I can even begin to comment on the movie . I could praise the technical aspects especially the sound , editing and cinematography but everyone else seems to have praised ( Rightly too ) these achievements to high heaven while the performances in general and Robert Duvall in particular have also been noted , and everyone else has mentioned the stark imagery of the Dou Long bridge and the montage of the boat traveling upriver after passing through the border

How about the script ? Francis Ford Coppola is best known as a director but he's everyway a genius as a screenwriter as he was as a director , I said " was " in the past tense because making this movie seems to have burned out every creative brain cell in his head , but his sacrifice was worth it . In John Milius original solo draft we have a script that's just as insane and disturbing as the one on screen , but Coppola's involvement in the screenplay has injected a narrative that exactly mirrors that of war . Check how the screenplay starts off all jingoistic and macho with a star turn by Bill Kilgore who wouldn't have looked out of place in THE GREEN BERETS but the more the story progresses the more shocking and insane everything becomes , so much so that by the time reaches Kurtz outpost the audience are watching another film in much the same way as the characters have sailed into another dimension . When Coppola states " This movie isn't about Vietnam - It is Vietnam " he's right . What started off as a patriotic war to defeat communist aggression in the mid 1960s had by the film's setting ( The Manson trial suggests it's 1970 ) had changed America's view of both the world and itself and of the world's view of America

It's the insane beauty of APOCALYPSE NOW that makes it a masterwork of cinema and says more in its running time about the brutality of conflict and the hypocrisy of politicians ( What did you do in the Vietnam War Mr President ? ) than Michael Moore could hope to say in a lifetime . I've not seen the REDUX version but watching the original print I didn't feel there was anything missing from the story which like all truly great films is very basic . In fact the premise can lend itself to many other genres like a western where an army officer has to track down and kill a renegade colonel who's leading an injun war party , or a sci-fi movie where a UN assassin is to eliminate a fellow UN soldier who's leading a resistance movement on Mars , though this is probably down to Joseph Conrad's original source novel

My all time favourite movie and it's very fitting that I chose this movie to be my one thousandth review at the IMDb
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You love it, or you hate it....
Cinema_Hound25 June 2001
As I peruse through the hundreds of comments that loyal readers of the IMDB have posted on this film, I find it very interesting how few ,"middle of the road" comments there are. Everyone either loves it, or they hate it. Having seen Apocalypse Now approximately 30 times, and having recently dissected it on DVD (how did we ever live without those magical digital machines?????), I can say without hesitation that I am one of those who have a very special place in my heart for this film. "Why would you like a film that's so confusing?" ask many of my associates. The answer is this: Forget the war, forget the brutality....This is a classic story of society protecting itself from those that refuse to fall in line with the status quo. Brando represents the individual that has his own way of getting the job done. They (Big Brother) sent him out to do the job, he does it too well, without adhering to the accepted "standards" of death and destruction (Am I the only one who's troubled by the fact that we have 'standards' for death and destruction????), so they send the "Conformity Police" out to eliminate the individual. Hmmmmmm....Draw any parallels between this and things you see every day? With the deepest respect to Mr. Coppola, whom I believe is one of the best directors of all time, I think he transcended his original intent of the movie, and probably didn't even realize it until after the movie was released. The subtle sub-text that permeates the entire movie has way too much to it to have been planned and portrayed; instead, it seems to have 'grown' itself, like some wild flower in the middle of a vegetable garden. Again I must reiterate: I think FF Coppola did a bang-up job on this entire production, as did the cast and crew, but the sum of the movie exceeds the individual efforts ten-fold. So if you haven't seen the movie, rent it, watch it, then watch it again, and maybe a few more times, and look for all the generic parallels to everyday life. Only then make a judgment on the quality of the film. Those of you that have seen it, watch it again with the mindset previously described. I think you may just have a whole new appreciation for the film. Or maybe not! No matter whether you love it or hate it, be sure and give credit to Coppola for his masterful story-telling style!
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The bravest , most honest account of the futility of war ever filmed.
sizzling_words8 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
During the final throes of the Vitnam war, our central character, Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) is dispatched by the CIA on an illegal one-man mission to assassinate a renegade US Marine commander, Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has allegedly gone 'completely insane', but who is successfully waging a private cross-border war from his base in Cambodia, a neutral and therefore off-limits country.

The entire narrated story of what Willard sees and does as he is ferried up the Da Nang river by an undisciplined and terrorised navy patrol boat crew to murder Kurtz is a grand metaphor for the excesses, decadence and ultimately the weakness of the Anglo-Saxon psyche: If we don't understand something, and we are unable to control it, exterminate it. Kurtz had eventually come to know this.

Unless you pay complete attention to every emotional gesture, to every word of the dialogue between the protagonists, especially in the scene where the two of them are alone in Kurtz's darkened lair, you will miss one of the central themes of this incredible movie. Kurtz's subtle deal with his executioner, his unilateral 'surrender' in return for Willard agreeing (did he nod?) to tell Kurtz's 'son' (another metaphor for us, the next generation, the ones watching the movie) the truth about all the horrors that they had both seen in Vietnam, is mind-expanding stuff.The bonding between the two men whilst Kurtz cross-examines Willard,--interlaced with some of his own horror stories, is incredible, nay, genius, film. The closing (intercut)scene of the ritual slaughter of a sacrificial bull is the single most powerful of symbols. Coppolla has made, intentionally or not, the ultimate anti-war statement, one that should resonate through the ages.
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The horror…. The horror
FilmOtaku4 October 2004
Warning: Spoilers
'Apocalypse Now Redux', Francis Ford Coppola's war opus is probably the most beautiful war film I have ever seen. Capt. Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) is a Vietnam soldier who is tapped to head a very dangerous and highly classified mission into Cambodia to 'terminate the position' of Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a highly ranked and highly regarded army man who seemingly has gone completely insane and defected from the army, setting up his own little society and helped by a cultish following of soldiers. Escorting him up the river to Cambodia is a handful of navy men, and along the way, they encounter several interesting people (most notably is Robert Duvall's Kilgore, a badass lieutenant colonel with a few screws loose) and some horrifying situations.

'Apocalypse' is less historical war film than a philosophical and psychological study. It is more 'Full Metal Jacket' than 'Platoon'. The running time of 'Apocalypse' is over three hours, but the film is so wonderfully paced and compelling that when the end of the film arrived, I was actually surprised at the amount of time that had passed. The beautiful cinematography is surely what stood out the most for me, however. After seeing this film, I am convinced that Coppola is one of the masters of light and photography in film history. The 'Godfather' films were all tinged with an almost sepia tone, and shadows created the feeling of a Baroque composition. With 'Apocalypse', there is an incredible usage of natural light, and the shadows, particularly in the scenes involving Brando and Sheen, almost become a living character, they are so pervasive and effective. Another gorgeous scene was when Cpt. Willard and Jay Hicks (Frederic Forrest) were in the jungle looking for mangoes, and come across a tiger. The sheer enormity of the surrounding foliage (leaves as big as a house) made the characters almost Lilliputian, but the colorization of the scene was incredible. While everything else was almost a muted grey, the leaves were an incredibly vibrant green, an effect that was particularly striking. Another really minor positive moment in the film was the great scene when the helicopters carrying Duvall and company attack the small village while playing Wagner. This could have just been an ultra-dramatic underlying soundtrack to the scene, but instead Coppola turns the song into an actual part of the scene, with Duvall mentioning that he likes to play it while they are approaching to 'scare the hell out of them'.

The performances in 'Apocalypse' are first class. Much has been made of the amount of money Brando earned for the film, and the amount of trouble he caused. Regardless of this, he turned out a powerful performance for a relatively short amount of screen time. Sheen is completely outstanding - this is the first time I have seen him really unleash in a film – and Duvall is a lot of fun to watch as the loony Kilgore. 'Apocalypse Now' is a film that is so pervasive in pop culture by now (most know several choice lines from the film, 'I love the smell of napalm in the morning' et al) but I knew little enough about it that there were plenty of surprises left to experience. I have not seen the original cut of 'Apocalypse Now' so I cannot compare it to this newer cut, but this is a film that should most certainly be experienced. 8/10

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Coppola conveyed the drama and spectacle of this truly outstanding film…
Nazi_Fighter_David11 December 2008
After the success of the first two 'Godfather' films in 1972 and 1974 respectively, Francis Ford Coppola embarked on an ambitious attempt to bring home the reality of the war in Vietnam, which had concluded with the fall of Saigon to the Vietcong in 1975… The plot was loosely based on the book 'Heart of Darkness,' a story by Joseph Conrad about Kurtz, a trading company agent in the African jungle who has acquired mysterious powers over the natives…Coppola retains much of this, including such details as the severed heads outside Kurtz's headquarters and his final words, "The horror… the horror…"

In the film, Sheen plays an army captain given the mission to penetrate into Cambodia, and eliminate, with "extreme prejudice," a decorated officer who has become an embarrassment to the authorities… On his journey up the river to the renegade's camp he experiences the demoralization of the US forces, high on dope or drunk with power…

Although, as a result of cuts forced on Coppola, the film was accused of incoherence when first released, it was by the most serious attempt to get to grips with the experience of Vietnam and a victorious reinvention of the war film genre… In 1980 the film won an Oscar for Best Cinematography and Best Sound…

"Apocalypse Now" was re-released in 2001 with fifty minutes restored… As a result, the motion picture can now be seen as the epic masterpiece it is…
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One of the best and most important movies ever
jande912 January 2005
This movie changed the art of film making, telling a complex story in a powerful new way. The film mixes brutal realism with fantasy, intercutting a modern war with strange scenes full of technicolour smoke. The film uses music not as a score laid in later, but as a practical part of the scene playing from speakers, radios etc. Coppola uses a classic piece of literature as inspiration, taking scenes and characters, and putting them into entirely different surroundings. That is a tricky and brave thing to do. Then he takes a superstar, Brando, pays him a fortune, and films him so that you can barely see his face. The pure guts that such a move requires is astounding, and it works beautifully. This movie belongs in the top ten.
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the horror, the horror...
The Claw20 April 1999
So just how insane is 'Apocalypse Now'? Well, let's say that it is the kind of film that makes you want to bang your head against the wall. The beginning has no credits or titles; nothing. The whole film seems like it's taking place on a different world, and as the story moves on, sanity itself is shed. There was a French plantation scene that got cut out, and an alternate ending that would have had a massive battle scene outside Kurtz's compound.

'Apocalypse Now' is not a realistic film in the sense that the presentation of the Vietnam War is far from correct: helicopters going in BEFORE the napalm strikes, a USO show in the jungle at night, and the final bridge all lit-up like a Christmas tree. (for more realistic 'Nam War movies, try 'The Deer Hunter' or 'Platoon')

But what 'Apocalypse Now' lacks in historical accuracy, it makes up in artistic and dramatic scripting. Some of the best photography and lighting ever can be found here.

The film also raises some severe philosophical issues, and gives us entirely new ones. When the movie begins, the war is raging around us. It is chaotic and nerve-racking, yet still rational. When we finally get to Kurtz's base, the action has died down, but rational thinking has long since been vanquished to the point of total lunacy. This shows us the truth about men of war in times of war and peace. The voyage down the river has a sense of time travel (a sense that would have been much more apparent had the French Plantation scene remained.) And when you get to the end, keep in mind the old phrase: The King is dead... Long live the king.

Is Kurtz insane? Or are we not yet ready to understand him? These questions and more are up to you as 'Apocalypse Now has no easy answers.
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The horror has come true and yet we allow it to pass by us
Schopenhauer24 October 2001
Warning: Spoilers
Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now is a pure example of method filmmaking. It is the true craftmanship of an essential filmmaker. The art direction, editing and sound effects are partially a small fragment which makes this film classical and memorable. What drives the integrity and semblance of the film is the storyline, acting and inner message. The inner message evidently enough is that war is hell, or in other words, hell is war. Not many directors have the ambition or the true courage to establish such a well-defined piece of art. European filmmakers wouldn't have the slightest problem of directing the film or throw in their personal feelings about the war. What is most interesting is that an American filmmaker spoke his style and the style of the film's collaborators through the continuance of the film.

The plot is fairly simple and brief, adapted by Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness. Martin Sheen plays the role of Captain Willard, a war-torn character who does not see any hope in life or humanity anymore. He has a mission and it is to capture a presumed Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has fabricated an army of existensial soldiers on the outskirts of the Cambodian jungle. Throughout the film we encounter astonishing sequences. The most unforgettable is the dawn helicopter attacks. Robert Duvall's character Colonel Kilgore is a steady and firm example of the basic American army brain: to search and destroy and then destroy some more if it includes yourself. The children walk about the playground, oblivious to any danger. The helicopters come into view from the dawning sea; millions of sprinkle reflect from the water, we hear the helicopter's engines roar from the horizon and soon enough we are stuck in a messy attack. Throughout the sequence we hear Wagner's 'Ride Of The Valkyries'. It is method filmmaking. The starting sequence is as fascinating as the rest of the movie; a beautiful scene of palm trees blowing in the ragged wind and seconds away from being inflamed with a carpet bombing. Let's not forget the scene where the soldiers of the boat in which Sheen travels in, stop an innocent upcoming boat, suspecting them to be VietCongs and carrying artilleries. Then they spark off a heavy scene of shooting in which all of the passengers of the boat are pulverised to pieces with their crops and food savaged in the atrocity.

This film has its famous moment, some better to be kept quiet about until they come through the screen. It doesn't require any intellectual understanding, although the film is intellectually remarkable. The American soldiers in the Vietnam War jumped into the land of a fresh governmental country, aiming to protect themselves and in the end only received death and chaos for their troops and for the majority of the country they were fighting against. It was a war gone mad, like all other wars, without purpose or dignity. It was a pure act of humanity: to destroy and restore their own greedy needs. This is a film in which there is no saviour, where it is hardly possible to find hope in the gloomiest corners and where all surroundings are plagued with the infatuations of greed, anger, foolishness and egoism. As Coppola once said about the film: 'This film isn't about Vietnam. This film IS Vietnam'. He was right to the date. During the current situations of the world, where they are trying to protect their own skin, the world should try to analyse this film as much as possible and wonder about what it is trying to represent. It is a film which does not ask for applause or damnation. It asks for realism.

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Lives Up To Its Title
alexkolokotronis24 April 2008
From all of the Vietnam war movies this is probably the most frightening and disturbing and that is really saying a lot with so many spectacular ones that have come out. It has this freakish feel to it. Everything is so chaotic in the movie it scares you. It is not like it shows a lot of different things compared to the other Vietnam war movies. What does push to such a high level is the:

The directing was spectacular here. Francis Ford Coppola shows of his talent in his last epic movie. Unlike other directors he makes you feel as if you are in the war. Most others just display and show you the horrors of war. Coppola though makes you feel confused, shocked and scared. These feelings of war are usually told to us from a movie or story. This is something that I have only experienced very few times while watching a film. The writing was of course amazing too. It brought you write into the middle of the movie. It never made me bored and this movie is three hours. The cinematography goes hand in hand with the directing which very much added to the freakish experience of watching this film showing all the chaos around you even when everything seems calm.

The acting was bone-chilling. Just look at Marlon Brando also giving his last great performance playing a deluded, out of whack colonel. When ever I think of a crazy gone made soldier I think Marlon Brando in Apocalpyse Now. With Brando n this film you don't want to look into his eyes. Like the movie he was freakish. To me this performance is as memorable as the one he gave in The Godfather. Martin Sheen gave a very deep performance and probably the best one of his career making you see everything through his eyes all the craziness he is experiencing and yet wanting him to get to his goal. It is just a wonder why these two did not get Oscar nominations. Robert Duvall was able to show part of that craziness with his ludicrous battle strategies, among those playing music to tell the enemy he is coming. Also Duvall's character asking one of the soldiers to surf in the middle of a battle was just shocking but believable. Other great supporting performances were given by a young Laurence Fishburne, Sam Bottoms and Frederic Forest who all summed up the attitudes of many of the soldiers at that time without becoming a cliché. Also for once cameos were put into good use having Dennis Hopper and Harrison Ford who I both love.

I would definitely recommend people to watch this movie. It has a message and everyone involved in the making of it is at their best. There is nothing more I could ask of this movie with its great acting, directing, writing, cinematography and great ending. Watch and you will see why it lives up to its title Apocalpyse Now.
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skip Redux version, watch original first
surfisfun3 January 2018
Top 20 war movie

in Redux they added long scenes that changed tempo of movie. The one at the plantation didn't work well in context. What a great film!
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Spectacular and fascinating movie about a journey leading to horror
ma-cortes11 July 2005
The picture talks about the captain Willard (Martin Sheen) who tells the story , he is assigned for a special mission : Kill Kurtz (Marlon Brando) , American general highly decorated who the army officers (Harrison Ford , G.D. Spradlin) believe has gone murderer and nut . Willard joins to misfit crew (Albert Hall , Sam Bottons , Frederic Forest, Larry Fishburne) make a risked and dangerous journey up river towards Cambodia . They'll find a mad marine captain (Robert Duval) fond of surf , playboy bunnies and French military and a civil group (Christian Marquand and Aurore Clement) living lonely on a plantation since Dien Bien Phu defeat (1954) . The travel is dangerously developed until the fateful meeting with Kurtz .

Its a stunning and absorbing story that is based on Joseph Conrad novel : ¨the heart of the darkness¨ . The travel is narrated as a surrealist odyssey leading to the dreadful and horrible final but when the protagonists find General Kurtz the scenarios are darkest and gloomiest . Martin Sheen had a heart attack during the filming and some shots of Willard's back are of doubles , including Sheen's brother Joe Estevez who was flown out specially . The storyline by John Milius tackles issues of ethics and morality and the horror war . In 2001 was realized a ¨redux¨ , a new reediting adding footage , the episode of the playmates and the French people encounters , where there are a lot of nudism and is a bit boring but is pretty dialog and little action . This new edition is today considered to be the official version . Originally scheduled to be shot over six weeks , ended up taking 16 months . The movie in spite of the passed time is still powerful and astounding . Colorful cinematography by Vittorio Storaro is spellbound and breathtaking , he won an Oscar , a very well deserved Academy Award . Carmine Coppola musical score and time songs are atmospheric and exceptional . The picture was perfectly directed by Francis Ford Coppola , pacing with great sensitivity and artistic ambition . Rating: Above average . Awesome.
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Truly a Masterpiece
cristiangrecu4 July 2004
Somewhere on IMDb there is a discussion about the greatest director of all times (Spielberg, Copolla and others are named there). The greatest argument was around Spielberg and whether he is or isn't a great director. The problem with Spielberg is that while he is a master technician, most of his films lack depth.Saving Ryan is really outstanding from a technical point of view, but its message is dull and while its very entertaining, it doesn't make you think about anything. AN is the best movie I ever saw because it combines great shooting with a deep philosophical perspective on so many things, starting from war in general, the clash of civilizations, the condition of soldier in wartimes (is a soldier a hero or an assassin? Brando says he is neither, the french lady says he is both ...) and many others. The problem with some people is that they try to argue about whether these points are true or false. But a great movie, and a great piece of art in general is supposed to spark arguments, not to solve them ... Maybe Coppola is right, or maybe he isn't, nobody holds the truth anyway. You can watch this movie for its outer beauty, amazing scenes, great acting and memorable quotes and you will be entirely satisfied. But what really make this movie a masterpiece is its inner quality. You can't help but make a comparison with the recent Fahrenheit documentary.Both Copolla and Moore tackle similar issues, but while Copolla presents matters from an outside , objective point of view, Moore takes a very partisan position that really compromises the whole point of a documentary ... It is really a shame that a film like Fahrenheit 9/11 won a prestigious award like Cannes. But anyway, if you want to start to understand a little of the Vietnam war, the Iraq war, the second World War and any war in general, you should definitely see this movie, and not the other one ...
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"The horror...the horror" is the reality of war and its effects...
MovieAddict201627 August 2003
Warning: Spoilers
Spoilers. This review has been edited due to word limit.

`The horror. The horror.' Marlon Brando, Apocalypse Now (1979) and Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)

The sentence which is as famous as `Here's looking at you, kid,' or `Are you talkin' to me?' or `May the Force be with you,' or `I'll be back,' means a little more than some one-liners. When it is spoken it lingers in the air with an importance and meaning that does not go unnoticed. What might drive some viewers nuts is that they may never find an answer to the horror unless they re-watch the film and try to pay close observation to every single frame.

What, exactly, does this line of dialogue mean? The horror spoken of is the reality of war. The reality of moral men being so easily corrupted that they turn on their inborn instincts and kill fellow beings without any sign of guilt. When Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) stands before the dying Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) at the end of the film, `The horror.the horror.' is the realization of Willard's corruptness. He has mercilessly killed a man in cold blood as part of his assignment. This isn't a typical Hollywood ending. In most cases a character gains something, whether it be emotionally, physically, mentally or all three. But Willard both gains and loses. He gains the knowledge that he has lost his morals. And that is a shocking ending.

`Apocalypse Now' is Francis Ford Coppola's tribute to the artistic side of filmmaking. This film is wholly different from `The Godfather.' It is hallucinogenic, visually dazzling, and an ode to the guilty side of human nature. At first it seems realistic, and then it becomes strange, and then symbolic, and, by the end, original in its own unique perspective of the spiritual side of warfare. This is not as much a film about the Vietnam War as it is a film about the war within us.

At first it does appear to be another war film. Captain Willard (Sheen) is assigned by an Army Lieutenant (a young Harrison Ford) to assassinate a renegade American Colonel named Kurtz (Brando), who is hiding out somewhere in Vietnam with a hoard of troops who more or less act as his slaves.

Willard carries out his mission `with extreme prejudice,' heading out on a boat along with four soldiers, including the boat captain, Chief (Albert Hall), Chef (Frederic Forest), and a very young `Larry' Fishburne (who later went on to appear as Morpheus in `The Matrix').

"Apocalypse Now" is in a many ways a modern update of Homer's Odyssey. As our main character, Willard, carries on his journey, he meets an array of original and strange characters, including Lt. Col. Kilgore (Robert Duvall), who has a strange fetish for surfing, and a stoned photographer (Dennis Hopper), whose lively gestures and mannerisms can be compared to those of the very much lesser Jeremy Davies in "The Million Dollar Hotel," one of the worst films I have ever seen. Davies failed to make any connection with an audience; Hopper does. He is like the poetic vibe between Willard and Kurtz; he is like an interpreter going back and forth and speaking in foreign languages. In this case, he is translating Kurtz to Willard, although I'm not so sure Kurtz needs a translation of Willard.

Many films are lucky enough to have one or two memorable scenes or lines. "Apocalypse Now" has many. Kilgore descending upon a Vietnam village playing Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries" remains one of the most remembered scenes in all of film history. There is sharpness to it, a brutality to it, an ironic tone to it, and also a sense of playfulness. When Kilgore kneels down on that beach and says, `I love the smell of napalm in the morning.it smells like victory,' we all crack a smile.

I won't lie to you: `Apocalypse Now' is a strange film. It isn't exactly the easiest thing to analyze. The end may frustrate some viewers if they don't understand Marlon Brando's significant speeches. But what it all comes down to, what really matters, is that this film is about the dark nature of the human psyche. The horror is the realization of war and its effects, not the war itself. Kurtz says, `You have a right to kill me. But you have no right to judge me.' Brando's character, Kurtz, is left to the audience to judge. To many naïve viewers he may appear as a crazy loon whose power got to his head. But that isn't what Francis Ford Coppola is trying to get across. By fighting in Vietnam, Kurtz has realized just how great he had it, and how bad some others had it. By walking through devastated villages he eventually comes to realize that we are the naïve ones, living our lives in a fool's paradise. We are totally naïve to our surroundings and possible misfortunes until they hit. By seeing how unlucky some Vietnamese are, Kurtz realizes just how easily he could be struck by something. Just how easily he could end up like the people around him. And he also realizes that the people who did this are people who have abandoned their morals and left them at the door. Many people think the horror is one thing. It is two. For Kurtz, the horror is the reality of how naïve he was and the reality of the war's impact upon men. And after Willard murders Kurtz, and hears Kurtz's dying words, he realizes it too. He realizes the effects of war. To see so many soldiers with no sense of right or wrong makes him realize the horror of what war can do to a man. And what it has done to him. The horror.

5/5 stars -
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In my top five favorite films ever made
MisterWhiplash6 January 2000
Apocalypse Now is not only my personal favorite work by Francis Ford Coppolla, it's also one of the great visions ever put onto cinema. It makes what was horrific, strange, and ironically exciting and mysterious about the Vietnam War into this mad tale of obsession, death, loss, and the dark side of humanity. While the stories behind the production of the film made it notorious and rather risky back in 1979, it works on its own terms and represents not just Coppola's genius but others in the Zoetrope team as well. It also paints a sometimes lurid, ultra-violent, bleak and curious view of what war does to people, both in the lower ranks, the big-guns, and those who go too far "up the river".

Many have also been perplexed by Marlon Brando's performance in the film, but it's actually one of his very best turns on screen, albeit improvised and close to running off the rails. His few moments on screen (even in the somewhat unnecessary scene plopped into the Redux version) there's enough conviction in what he's saying- and what perhaps isn't said- that makes the trip down the river worthwhile on an intellectual and poetic level. And making up the bulk of the film are delirious turns by Robert Duvall (a Oscar nominated turn he should've won), Martin Sheen as the Captain with almost too much to ponder in an ever increasing state of everything but him being insane; character actors like Sam Bottoms, Frederic Forrest and 14 year-old Laurence Fishburne have some of the best work they've ever done. And it goes without saying that Dennis Hopper comes close to stealing any scene he's in, for better or worse, with the most to say in rambling, yet coherent words.

Every time I watch this film (and mostly the original version which is what first drew me in completely as opposed to the very good if muddled Redux version) I am astounded with how operatic everything is, and how the variations on the madness and chaos of Vietnam is put together. Of course one can give adulation to Coppola for this as he completed it without totally going off the deep end or possibly dying, and his talents are pulled to their richest peaks here as a storyteller and director of actors. But it can't be said enough how much I can't get enough of Vittorio Storaro's cinematography, which has in part come close to perfect for this kind of epic film. The music is perfectly eerie and insidious, with the Doors song used for one of my favorite iconic scenes in the movies (both of them). Walter Murch's editing- which apparently was what saved the film from being a four-hour disaster- makes the action move when it needs to and for individual shots to get their due. And even the production design is remarkable and, to the extent it goes to, original in its partial translation of both Conrad's fiction and the unfortunate realities of life on the river.

If you haven't seen it yet, in short, get off your ass and get a copy; it might cause a kind of shell-shock for a viewer after first taking it all in, but it has some of the purest, most rewarding bits of cinema ever to come out of that all-too-brief American new-wave of the 1970's.
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Redux: still brilliant - but now with new strengths and weaknesses
bob the moo27 March 2004
In an updating of `Hearts of Darkness' a soldier is given a mission to travel up a river During the Vietnam war in order to terminate the command of Colonel Kurtz. Kurtz is operating without orders and is leading a group of natives in brutal violent strikes against the enemy. Despite his history of brilliance and decoration he has clearly gone mad. Willard joins a military boat and travels up river to his destiny. However the further he travels the more madness appears to have become the norm.

That Redux was going to be anything less than brilliant was never in doubt: it was never going to be so different from the original that it would destroy or significantly damage the reputation or impact that the film has. What was in question to my mind was whether or not Coppola should have just left well enough alone. I have seen the documentary about the making of the original film, wherein Coppola derides many of his scenes and decides to cut them out of his movie even as he finishes shooting them - the plantation scene being one of the key ones that he felt just didn't work. It was for this reason that I was interested to see what the additions and rejigging of scenes had done to the film.

The strengths of Redux is that Apocalypse Now was never about the straight story, it was more about the journey Willard undertakes rather than a build up to a traditional conclusion - while the ending is big, it is no more or less important that anything that has gone before it. So for that reason it is a good thing that, simply put, there is now more of the journey to be enjoyed! `49 minutes of new material' my dvd cover screams at me; combine this with the movement of scenes and certainly it does have the feel of a different (albeit familiar) film rather than just a bit of spit and polish with some new CGI effects (yes ET, I'm looking at you). However this increased material also brings with it the problems that not all the material compliments the film in terms of total quality.

None of the added scenes or sequential movements are bad or even average, they are all interesting, but some just don't seem to really fit. The plantation scene has some great dialogue (that strikes a real chord so recently post-Iraq) and it makes it's points but it just didn't seem to fit. I can see what Coppola was trying to do and, if you watch Hearts Of Darkness, you can see that it frustrates him that it doesn't work, but he got it right first time, it doesn't fit despite it's standalone merits. Likewise the playboy bunny scene intrigued me as I tried to get more from the bunny's semi-speech about being made to do things and the theme of objectification, but again it didn't totally work and seemed out of place.

Despite these two major scenes not totally fitting, they are still interesting and, if you came for the journey, then that is what matters and they present themselves as a flawed part of that journey - but a part of that journey nonetheless. Some of the smaller additions actually contribute a lot more to the film. Little moments in the boat show Willard to be more relaxed as a man than the original did - and this greatly benefits my understanding and appreciation of his character. How he interacts with the rest of the crew is also improved. Other minor additions to existing scenes serve to enhance them, but improvement in some areas is difficult when it comes to this film.

I won't go into details on cast, performances and the themes of the film as I have already done that in my other review. Suffice to say that, if you loved Apocalypse Now then Redux will likely both enhance your enjoyment and slightly irritate you at the same time. The film easily stands up to the longer running time - as another user said, I could easily give the five hour version a stab (well, maybe once!) as the journey is the all. The additions may not be without flaw, but then that's why they were higher on the editing hierarchy than the rest of the stuff! However they add interest and minutes to the journey - both of which are good things.

Overall, it is very difficult to take `one of the best films ever madeT ' and make it better - and Coppola hasn't done that here, but he hasn't damaged it either. It isn't a brand new film and it doesn't mess around with the original so much that it could be called a different film - so I won't compare the two as to which is `better'. Suffice to say that, while I don't totally agree that you `can't have too much of a good thing', certainly an extra 49 minutes is gratefully received where it doesn't damage or cheapen but only seeks to enhance and support.
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Never get out of the boat unless you are going all the way.
sulaymen12 November 2009
There must be something inherent in man, something from long ago, that sits deep within us; a scary thing, frightening to those who would choose - or who are forced to - gaze at it.

In making this movie, Coppola must have seen this thing that is not always visible. And if he did not see it in its entirety then in what must surely be a cliché by now, he saw enough of it to allow the heart of its darkness to pulse throughout this film.

And just as Coppola was changed by his experience in the jungle, so too his most mysterious character. Something happened to Colonel Kurtz. Something he saw fractured his mind, the diamond bullet shattering his perceptions into a single struggle that he himself, deep within his heart, knew he was unable to comes to terms with. And this is the crux of this movie, that this journey into darkness can promise a truth so clear that it blinds you, a truth so powerful that is keeps a hold of you and does not let you go and traps you into staying exactly, exactly where you are.

For the critics of this film, I wonder if they would ever admit to the existence of the dark place within. Admitting it, will they discover empathy? Art - and the film maker's craft is certainly that - surely requires the observer to join forces with the artist so as to see and to experience the world from the perspective of whatever the artist has discovered. Coppola, following the path of his own film making, ensures that his central character Captain Willard, journeying deep into the jungle, deep into his heart, has his own chance to discover the horrific artistry of the Colonel.
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Most just don't get it!
pcs374627 December 2005
Reading many of the comments here, I am stunned that I found none who actually got it. This is a film about the study of humanity and what it means to be human. Kurtz is not mad because of the war...he is mad because of what he must do to win against barbarians...he had to sacrifice his humanity and he did it willingly. He teaches us that in order for civilzied human beings to survive an onslaught of barbarians, you have to immerse yourself...defeat your own humanity. And then, when you have defeated the barbarian, you look around...and you are not human any more. In essence, the barbarian wins by forcing this sacrifice on civilized warriors. I left the theater in amazement that such a topic was even thought of for cinematic art. I got it just about everyone else missed it. And I felt contempt for those around me in the leaving crowd who were complaining they were disappointed in the film. They completely missed the point. Now, civilized people are faced again with a decision against barbarians who saw peoples heads off on TV. Will we immerse ourselves and our humanity to do what we must to survive...or will we surrender to the alternative if we don't? Is a surrender to barbarians as bad as becoming one of them? I think everyone should review "Apocalypse Now" once again because we are about to find out.
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Sheen Shines In This Unique Classic
ccthemovieman-111 January 2006
Well, I've watched this movie for over 25 years now and it's still almost as interesting as when I first saw it. It is definitely one of the most unique films ever made.

I still think Martin Sheen got "dissed" big-time in the billing, too. He dominates the film yet gets lesser billing than Marlon Brando, who only appears in the last 30 minutes of this 2 hours, 17 minutes film (theatrical version). How unfair is that?

Sheen is fantastic in here, especially his narration, which runs throughout. It's one of the best narrations, if not THE best, I have ever heard in a movie. His voice is just haunting as he relates his thoughts on this incredible, nightmare-like adventure. I never fail to appreciate his work in this movie.

The other thing that strikes me about the film over the years are the number of memorable scenes, ones I have never forgotten, such as......

Sheen losing it in his hotel room in the movie's first scene; Robert Duvall and the totally out-of-place surfing scenes and then the ensuing attack with Wagner's dramatic classical music blaring out of the helicopters; The Playboy bunny entertaining the troops; Frederic Forrest being freaked out seeing a tiger close up in the jungle; the weird scenes on the long riverboat ride; the appearance of hippie journalist Dennis Hopper greeting the crew in Cambodia and then Brando's bizarre character. It goes on and on with strange scenes.

That's not to say I enjoyed everything. No, there are a few very unpleasant scenes, such as the one in which an ox is sliced in half (can't watch that anymore), an innocent family is slaughtered on a small boat by Sheen's young stoned-out crew, and the crew is a little too goofy at times. Then, there is the huge amount of profanity, led by way too many f-words.

So, there is a lot of good and a lot of bad things in this movie for almost anyone who watches this One thing for sure: it is a film you WILL remember!
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The Dictionary Definition of Overrated
CantripZ19 August 2008
I saw this film once per decade in my first thirty years on Earth, and I've decided I don't need or want to see it again. It's a good film, and interesting from start to finish, but for me its I first saw this movie as a kid, and I was impressed (if rather confused). I had no idea it was supposed to be the best film ever, so it never occurred to me that anyone might think that.

Next time I saw the film I was in my teens, and I'd read Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness - thus, I was less impressed. By this point I was a little more into movies, so I'd seen more critically acclaimed classics too - another contributing factor to the film's diminishment in my eyes.

The last time I saw it was in my mid-to-late twenties, and I was honestly disappointed. When I next had the chance to watch the movie, a year or so ago, I passed.

Fans of Coppola and lovers of this movie will be ready by now to condemn me as a moron or philistine, but I truly believe this to be an overrated Hollywood mess.

It fails as an adaptation because of all the extraneous business: it's no longer about a man's journey to find Kurtz, it's about a seething mass of American national obsessions over Vietnam, war, race and imperialism.

Also, unlike Conrad's spare, to-the-point writings, the film deals almost exclusively in hyperbole. There are quiet moments, but they ring false in amidst the craziness.

As other reviews have pointed out, it's not really a war movie. However, its hard to see it as such since every scene is more or less obsessing over Vietnam.

Other reviews have also pointed out that it's not meant to be realistic, but I question that perception. It looks to me as if it *is* intended to be realistic in many ways - and the fact that it isn't is another of the film's failings in my eyes.

The racism of the film is also uncomfortable to me. Where Conrad's novel embodied the racism of its era (in which a white European did indeed have trouble viewing black Africans as human), this comparatively recent film embodies modern American racism by treating its nonwhite extras like so many cattle (no reference intended).

None of them have personalities or recognisable aims and objectives - they're seen only as faceless savages, as dangerous enemies, a mindless force which can be harnesses either by clever Communists or manipulative madmen.

The key performances are more interesting than actually good. Sheen isn't outstanding, certainly not at his best, and Fishburne is way underused. The big disappointment, however, is Marlon Brando. After such a long journey, so many death and traumas, its awful to realise that their objective is this old tubby loon who waddles around mumbling and being worshipped by unconvincing "savages".

I've never been a fan of Brando, who for me is like an older, fatter Al Pacino. He knows no restraint, and while many film lovers rate him all his performances seem pretty much the same to me... in that these are actors whose personalities get in the way of their acting. They always seem like themselves, whether its appropriate or not.

It's probably fair to point out that I'm not a Coppola fan, either. The phrase I used as a header here was originally something I said about The Godfather. Coppola's movies always come across bombastic and self-important, self-consciously "big" movies with heavy themes.

I do understand the film, and I appreciate that it has many moments of inspired cinematography and several truly amazing scenes. But for me, it never connects emotionally.

Too many characters and situations ring false. The structure is too messy, the use of pop music grates on my nerves, the plot-holes are increasingly apparent with every viewing, and to top it off I find the idea that this is adaptation of Conrad rather absurd. In many ways it's less true to the source than West Side Story is to Romeo and Juliet.

It's not a bad film, as such, but a deeply flawed film... and, from a personal point of view, sententious and unnecessary.
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Redux is a Travesty, Travesty, Travesty!
A_Minor_Blip15 August 2006
Warning: Spoilers
First off, I am not reviewing the classic original which I would give 10 stars to, I am reviewing the horrible 2001 redux, and this is why there is 1 star.

I don't care what Coppola says. He calls the REDUX/redo/re-edit that he put in theaters in 2001 the "definitive version" of Apocolypes Now. He's crazy. He hasn't made a decent film in a long, long time. He took a great and classic film and ruined it, and it's his own. Will he do this to the first two Godfather films? Robert Duvall's gung-ho character has turned into a buffoon, searching for a surfboard that Martin Sheen has stolen. Martin Sheen's character has turned into a warm-hearted guy who loves his crew, plays games with them like stealing surfboards, as opposed to a serious guy who has a very serious mission like in the original. Marlon Brando reads TIME magazine. And there is a scene with a French Plantation that destroys the entire flow to the movie, and plays like a corny dream sequence and is just horrible, with acting so bad it's more of a nightmare. The worst scene in the redux is when Chef and Lance (Fred Forrest and Sam Bottoms) party in a "parked" helicopter with some of the Playboy Playmates from the previous R&R scene. One of the playmates has a birdcage on her head, no joke. This is another scene that kills the entire flow of the movie, and makes Martin Sheen a nice guy, since he is the one who sets up his men with the girls in the first place. And also, Coppola takes the scene where Lance is water skiing (with the Stones "Satisfaction" playing) and moves it from the beginning of the film to the middle. This was, in the original, one of the best setup scenes of all time, letting you unwind and to get to know the laid-back situation of these men, and Coppola ruins it. Oh the horror, the horror, the horror of this redux. The Redux is a total travesty. Coppola has ruined his own masterpiece. Imagine Van Gogh, if he'd lived, taking "Starry Night" and adding to it, or DiVinci or Monet or anyone else. Coppola has lost it, completely. And so, the true "horror" isn't the Vietnam war, but the hands of a burnt-out has-been filmmaker mangling one of his best works. And by the way, here I am reviewing the redux only, which is why there is only one star.
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Apocalypse—nothing happens—Now.
Jacques9826 January 2009
* Just to get it out of the way: I viewed the Redux version of this film, and that MAY be the cause of some of my negative statements. I cannot say for certain either way.

If you've ever been a member of a message board and you've read the thread about the last movie you watched, you'll know that 99% of the replies have one word or less beside the official score. For a long time, I wondered how that could be. I used to think, "Don't these people have any more of an opinion other than 'good' or 'bad' or 'average'? They just wasted their lives watching a movie; couldn't they say more than just a score?" It took me a few months to figure the entire situation out, but when I did, it made perfect sense. Most movies—even good movies—are so predictable and unoriginal—even if they're enjoyable—people still lack any real, definitive feelings about them. They see a movie on a Friday night and by Saturday night they forgot they even watched it. As a writer myself, I know first-hand there is nothing worse than an indifferent audience, but it seems that sums up most of the American population. Why? Because of films like Apocalypse Now.

Apocalypse Now opens up with a semi-interesting beginning. It misleads the viewer into thinking that it actually has some physiological depth, then completely drops all depth into the gutter by the 10-minute mark and never picks it up again. Despite what you were lead to believe, there is no plot here. Or let me rephrase that: there is a plot, but it drops it after the 20-minute mark and never picks it up again until the final 30 minutes. Everything between those two points is exactly what you expect for a clichéd war drama . . .

Talking. It almost amuses me that an "epic" movie can have the flattest characters in cinema history, but the screenwriters always have them talk and talk as if they're actually interesting to listen to. In Apocalypse Now's case, the characters are ALL walking stereotypical war clichés with legs and—unfortunately— tongues. They're all simply nothing but dumb animals created to carry the pointless dialogue out. They talk so much it's downright nauseating. What are they talking about? I forgot, and I just finished the film 10 minutes ago. Their dialogue is all predictable copy/paste war dialogue; I do remember that much. Naked girls, guns, cliché monologues about life/death—all the stuff you've heard thousands of times. I was never a soldier in the Vietnam War, but I can pretty much assure you the real soldiers talked about more than these unimaginative movies give them credit for.

Besides talking, what do you get in Apocalypse Now? Well, there are only two main action scenes in the entire movie, so you can cross balls-to-the-wall war action off your list of expectations. No, this nearly 4-hour long film focuses on shots of boats going down the river with soldiers talking, and not much else. There is no emotional experience here. There is no "horror", as the tagline proclaims. The most "horror" you get is a bunch of PG-rated war scenes and some eerie music as the soldiers move through fog. If the director had focused on the true horror of realistic war, I wouldn't have to be sarcastic when I say: How terrifying! Instead, however, the director focuses things we've seen before. Hundreds of times. He focuses on the copy/paste Hollywood-style war, not the truly gritty, dirty war. He doesn't rub your nose in the true horror of war; he pats you on the back and gives you generic conversation scenes.

My point here: Apocalypse Now is one of the most boring movies even filmed. It's also safe and predictable, adding nothing whatsoever to the overdone war genre. It doesn't leave you thinking, "My God, this is terrible!" It leaves you thinking, "My God, I could have done the laundry with that wasted time . . ."

And that's all. That's all there is to say about this nearly 4-hour long movie. The entire synopsis of every major event from open to close could literally be told in two sentences of text. Sometimes you have to sit back and realize that most award-winning, critically acclaimed, "classic" films are nothing but hollow shells. They boast great acting and cinematography, but they have no story. No soul. No moral. No thrill. No point . . .

This is why I blame films like Apocalypse Now for the indifference people have toward movies. These films are supposedly the best of the best, but at the same time they're completely forgettable to anyone who doesn't try their hardest to find pleasure in boredom in hopes of becoming an all-powerful FILM BUFF on some cheesy website. There is nothing wrong with being intellectual. There is something wrong with being pretentious and internally forcing yourself to love a film just because the critics do. And those are the only people who could give Apocalypse Now a perfect score. Or even a mildly positive score.

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