Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Apocalypse Now Redux (1979 / 2001)

Vietnam War Movie #8

Synopsis: Whackjob filmmaker adds 49 additional minutes to already-long psychedelic war picture...the horror! The horror!

Blurb From the VHS Jacket: “The definitive version of Francis Ford Coppola’s stunning vision of the heart of darkness in all of us, re-edited and re-mastered with 49 minutes of additional footage. Nominated for 8 Academy Awards, this classic and compelling Vietnam war epic stars Martin Sheen as Lieutenant Willard, who is sent on a dangerous and mesmerizing odyssey into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Colonel named Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has succumbed to the horrors of war and barricaded himself in a remote outpost.”

What Did I Learn?: 1) Charlie’s idea of rest and relaxation is a bowl of cold rice and a nice piece of rat meat. 2) Never get off the boat. 3) It’s a bad sign when you ask: “who’s your commanding officer?” and receive the reply: “ain’t you?”

Really?: 1) Did Colonels ever base their plans of attack on local Vietnamese surfing conditions? 2) Chef sure made a lot of noise traipsing around the jungle as he and Willard scavenged for mangoes... it’s a good thing they only run into a tiger rather than the VC. 3) Were American firebases really lit up like Christmas trees? 4) How in the world did those French colonists manage to defend their rubber plantation from the Viet Cong, let alone make it profitable, receive news from the outside world and even stock up on good wine? 5) So, Willard completes his mission, and the local tribes suddenly worship him, rather than tear him to shreds? That’s a convenient way to end the movie on a high note.

Rating: Apocalypse Now Redux is a bit too long (thanks to the aforementioned extra 49 minutes of footage), and it’s obviously not a realistic portrayal of combat in Vietnam, but it is a top-notch film with a lot of excellent performances (especially by Robert Duvall as a batshit crazy helicopter cavalry colonel, but watch for a VERY young Laurence Fishburne). The movie is meant to be somewhat surrealistic, but the additional footage of the Playboy bunnies and the French rubber plantation made it tougher for me to suspend my sense of disbelief. I would probably give the original, 1979 Apocalypse Now an even 10/10 stars; Apocalypse Now Redux is still highly recommended, however, with 8.5/10 stars.


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