Apocalypse Now: Full Disclosure

It has got to be one of the most eagerly anticipated Blu-ray releases of all time and finally, almost 5 years since the hidef format launched, Apocalypse Now has been released almost a year to the day after The Godfather: Coppola Restoration collection.  The Full Disclosure package is every bit as impressive, if not more so, as it includes both the original cut and the ‘Redux’ extended version of the film plus Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse which I saw when it was released at the Cinema in 1991 and then wore out the VHS tape, but this is the first time it has ever been released in a digital format in the UK.

Firstly, let me confirm that all 3 discs included in the Full Disclosure edition are Region Free and boast full 1080p resolution and a DTS-HD 5.1 soundtrack.  The first disc contains both the 1979 theatrical cut (153 mins) and 2001’s controversial ‘Redux’ version that restores the 49 mins of cut scenes, including the lavish French Plantation sequence.  I think both cuts of the film are valid, on balance I prefer the ‘Redux’ version although I agree that it changes the pacing of the film but it also helps expand it beyond the confines of the Vietnam war and leans more towards the source material of Joseph Conrad’s story, Hearts of Darkness, on which the film is based.  The 2nd disc is packed full of additional material, most notably two recent hour long filmed discussions by Francis Coppola with writer John Milius and star Martin Sheen, an interview by Roger Ebert at the Cannes Film Festival premier of the ‘Redux’ version, Orson Welles’ Mercury Radio production of Hearts of Darkness and Marlon Brando reading the full version of T.S. Elliot’s poem The Hollow Men.

The 3rd disc features the hidef version of Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse which is superb.  I had worried because there were rumours that it might be cut to remove some of the more uncomfortable moments of anguish that Coppola had to endure whilst making, what many beleive to be, his masterpiece; instead there is an audio commentary track, featuring both Francis and his wife Eleanor who made the documentary, providing a wistful, fresh perspective to some of the insanity that transpired whilst shooting in the Philippines.  This is one of the most engaging documentaries ever made about the cinematic process and worth the price of ownership alone!  Also included are numerous photos, storyboards, posters and other marketing material, along with a 57 page extract of the first draft by John Milius containing Coppola’s hand written notes which (if you sit close enough to the TV!) makes interesting reading.

To complete the package is a 48 page book containing an introductory letter from Francis Ford Coppola outlining the contents in detail.  My only criticism so far, as I’ve yet to wade through all of the supplements, is that there is no discrete chapter list for the ‘Redux’ version, which means you can’t go straight to the restored sequences; a forgivable oversight to an otherwise perfect collection.  I have owned more versions of this film than I care to remember and this is, without doubt, the best I have ever seen Apocalypse Now look on the small screen.  Let’s just hope that Coppola’s American Zoetrope cohort takes heed and releases the Star Wars and Indiana Jones trilogies on Blu-ray in the near future.

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5 Responses to Apocalypse Now: Full Disclosure

  1. blue frank says:

    Both Lucas & Coppola…seem to be part of the same ‘revisionist’ school of film making.

    I just glad that Lucas didn’t direct Apocalypse Now (as he was scheduled to) and went off to do Star Wars…have you heard the dialogue in Star Wars? (jeezuz) at least DeLaurentis’ Flash Gordon didn’t take itself seriously, which imo….is where Star Wars goes horribly wrong. To me Star Wars is ‘dumbed down to the max’ sci-fi…no wonder folk couldn’t cope with Dune!!!

    For the record…I’m strictly for the ‘theatrical release’ of Apocalypse and refuse to watch the Redux version anymore. I’m not against the addition of more footage per se, its just I think they added the wrong type of additional footage.

    What’s next….descendents of Lang want Metropolis colourised!!!!! loool

    BTW…many thanks for the review.

  2. oliva gaution says:

    Thanks for taking the time to share your view with us.

  3. blue frank says:

    Yeah…sorry I got a bit carried away with my previous rant about Lucas and revisionist film making…so apologies if I came across as a deranged idiot!

    Anyway…got my copy and watched the ‘theatrical cut’ over the weekend!

    OMFG…it was just such an awesome viewing experience…the colour vibrancy was just phenomenal on this blu-ray…it looked out of this world. The sound was even better than I was expecting…just awesome.

    The 2.35:1 aspect ratio…made it look like I was watching a new and different film…I love it in this new ratio. I can’t really understand why Storaro used the other ratio (personal taste and the Da Vinci aspect, I guess?) but you can’t take away his stunning cinematography.

    A true ‘giant’ of a film…easily Coppola’s best imho.

  4. Sean Alan says:

    Cool post! I just stumbled on it and now I’m a dedicated reader.

  5. Joel Burman says:

    Hi, you wanted feedback on the lamb.

    First of all I love that you have the Sled from Citizen Kane in your banner awesome.
    Also I like that you have DVD/blu ray focus. I have only skimmed your site but I would actually recommend that you focus on these niches completely for the moment if you aren’t already because there is way to few blogs out there highlighting great editions on DVD/Bluray.

    Finally in most posts you dont use the width of the pictures. It feels like you are customed to blogging on blogspot eventhough you are using wordpress. If you still want to use small images I would suggest that you design the posts so that the text is formatted next to it.


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