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Apocalypse Now: 1979 (R) NEW
USA / United Artists
99% (CF)

I have to say this up front I love the theatrical version far more then the Redux. The original cut is perfect, and any other addition to the film is unneeded.

Usually when you watch a film you love there is an instant connection; sometimes though you have to revisit the film after a while. Maybe you were too young to fully grasp or appreciate the film the first time around. That was the case here. Saw the film as a teenager and thought it was good. Not great, just good. I really liked a few scenes but not so much the whole film. Fast forward a decade, rewatch the film again, GENIUS!

This film has one of the greatest production designs in film, not to mention one of the greatest (ie troubled) production histories ever. A movie created in chaos and insanity, about story dealing with chaos and insanity. And it really shows on screen. Starting in Saigon, we see Martin Sheen as Captain Willard takes a river boat ride up to assassinate Colonel Kurtz. We establish the Captain has some problems from the get go (and so does Sheen as he was fighting his own demons while filming). And as the mission progresses we start to see that the closer we get to Kurtz, the more insanity seems to reign. The story is told in part through voice over narration by Willard as he details his thoughts on the mission and the man Kurtz himself. A man’s decent into insanity in a hostile area all the while told via voice over? Why do I like this format so much?

In addition to the decent into madness, the film is a visual beauty with a fantastic score. And the writing is superb! Co-written between Francis Ford Coppela, Michael Herr, and John Milius; the film has some incredible scenes and fantastic dialogue and speeches.

Now quite a few people have debated whether this film is an anti war film or a glorification of war. And to be honest it has elements of both. Coppela is the director and the scenes like the bridge being blown up or where they board the Vietnamese sampan do have a feel of a negative view of war. The bridge scene feels a commentary on pointless missions from idiot higher ups and the sampan scene the senseless taking off lives. But then you have the scenes where Milius had a heavy influence on the writing, namely the “Ride of the Valkyries” scene. Seeing a swarm of Huey helicopters rain down on a VC held village with Wagner blasting over the speakers is pure glorification of war! And from a grunts point of view this is a scene that gets you pumped up! I have to restrain myself from kicking in doors and clearing rooms after watching this scene. This gets a fighting man’s blood pumping!

What makes this film even more spectacular is that this film is such a masterpiece but was made under the most chaotic and stressful circumstances. Having to borrow military vehicles from the Philippine government while they are fighting insurgent groups; Martin Sheen’s personal demons and heart attack; Marlon Brando being fat, insane, and having not read the script; typhoons and floods; sets being destroyed; and the prevailing feeling by Coppela that this movie was going to be terrible! But thanks to some brilliant editing and scoring of the movie this movie was not only good, it was a masterpiece, and netted Coppela his second Palme d’Or. These coincidences and insane blessings, turns those months of Hell into a damn near perfect film.