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Apocalypse New Redux

Apocalypse Now Redux

Alongside The Godfather sage, the most harrowing production undertaken by Francis Ford Coppola was Apocalypse Now.  This masterwork, released in 1979 when it won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, is revamped with skill and power to make a magnum opus more haunting and compelling in 2001 and easily napalms all current studio and independent releases.

Apocalypse Now Redux is the audacious, ambitious result of Coppola and editor Walter Murch with raw footage from the original re-mixed to put the completed, restored running time about three and a quarter hours.  The first "Apocalypse" was embraced by film goers and a critical success though the Philippines based production was over budget and had numerous delays in shooting.

Cinematographer Vittorio Stoaro uses a transferring dye technique through individual primary colors on film blended to make Redux saturated with lush hued imagery which underlines the raw vision that Coppola had initially wanted to share with audiences.

But this protracted, chaotic Vietnam epic grows on you as a mesmerizing exploration of the mental struggles of war and the nastiness suffused with it.  Based on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the narrative by Coppola and John Milius is now laid out more vividly, with a more deliberate consciousness.  It impresses throughout with hallucinatory might as Martin Sheen's Capt. Willard makes a trip up river to Cambodia to "terminate with extreme prejudice" an insane renegade Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando).

Willard is emotionally crushed in a hotel room as Kurtz, the man he's assigned to take out, is in charge of militant tribesmen in a distant jungle outpost.

The enhanced footage on the patrol boat lets the viewer see more into the characters like Willard, Albert Hall's Chief, Frederic Forrest's Chef, and Sam Bottoms' surfing Lance.  Lawrence Fishburne at 14 is riveting as Clean who hails from a ghetto background.  Robert Duvall is unforgettable as Lt. Col. Kilgore who loves surfing, dropping bombs, and "the smell of napalm in the morning."

Kilgore's helicopter attack is one of the more fiercely jaw dropping spectacles captured on celluloid.  It's set to the music of Wagner's The Ride of the Valkyries.

The additional footage has touching and shocking scenes of lovemaking and savagery which involve Willard with a lovely French widow (Aurore Clement) and a massacre of an Asian boat that has the sweating captain unconscionably murdering a woman.  Even Brando's Kurtz works in the illuminating resurgence of a human sub-text within the swirling violence as he belittles US counterintelligence measures during Nixon's reign.

Detractors of Apocalypse Now have stated how things turn anticlimactic and because of the "shadow" shots and doubling for the heavy-set Brando, it lost some of its poignant, visceral velocity.  But with Redux the aural and visual stimulation kick into one's emotions with Sheen burning and shining with frightening thrusts of swaying emotions.  Even Dennis Hopper has his time as a mad photojournalist within the unsettling and wacked-out Kurtz compound.

Apocalypse Now Redux

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