April 21, 1953
2 hours and 27 minutes (147 minutes)
Peter van Eyck
Luis De Lima
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By Jack Anderson
on June 17, 2018
1,000. This is my 1,000th review on tvore.com. I couldn't just post a review of a cartoon episode saying "good" or "bad". I had to come up with something more compelling, if not for the readers, at least for me.
I thought about what I could review and Apocalypse Now immediately came to my mind. That was a fantastic choice. So, here we go, shall we?
Right from the start, the movie is having a kind of religious aspect to it. The religion of cinema being bigger than anything. That's the power of cinema, right in front of you.
The opening lasts for 7 minutes and 40 seconds. And it is brilliant. Usually, grand masterpieces tend to start with an iconic scene, whether it is the story of the man telling the story about his daughter being beaten to Don Vito Corleone in The Godfather, or ? (TO INSERT HERE).
I remember discovering the band The Doors when I was a teenager and being obsessed about it. I had all the albums and read tons of books about the band and watched documentaries about them. The music from The Doors was bigger than music itself. And putting the song The End on the insane images of Coppola at the opening of the film, with the forest exploding was a marvellous choice. The editing of the opening scene is truly brilliant.
The story is very simple and very exciting. A military captain (Martin Sheen) is getting a secret mission. He needs to find a kill a senior colonel (Marlon Brando). Very simple and efficient. Not only this, but it is a great way to keep the audience focused and interested during a very long movie.
Soon after, we jump into the war. War is messy and this is exactly what we are getting. There is noise coming from everywhere, helicopters are flying around and we can only be extremely admirative of Francis Ford Coppola for bringing to life such an epic vision. And looking at it in 2018, 39 years later, makes the film even more visually interesting. Because there is not a single shot including CGI, obviously. If there are ten helicopters in the sky, then there were really ten real helicopters. That makes a real difference and exacerbates the power of the images. Because our eyes can see everything, even if we don't realize it sometimes.
And it is not hard to realize as well that we are witnessing a cult film. At 37 minutes into the film, we get to see the cult scene of the Valkyrie. I counted precisely fourteen helicopters in the sky, flying on Ride of the Valkyries by Richard Wagner.
Of course, the character of Robert Duvall is extremely iconic and works perfectly.
While the film is using known songs, it also got an original score, heavily using synthesizer sound. The result is very dark. As soon as we arrive near Cambodia, the music is eery and the atmosphere is much darker, as we slowly approach Colonel Kurtz.
The first time I saw Apocalypse Now in a movie theater was actually the director's cut. Titled Apocalypse Now Redux, the movie is considerably longer than the original cut. One of the most important change is the time spent at the French plantation.
I must say I have mixed feelings about it. While I think it is a marvellous gift to any Apocalypse Now, I still prefer the original cut. The scene at the dinner table is excruciatingly long and not fitting within the film.
So, definitely, the second part does not deliver in the same way the first does. Surely, we get to meet Colonel Kurtz, but there is a sense that there is not a proper conclusion. Also, there is no proper epilogue.
To me, Apocalypse Now is one of the best war movies ever made.
A highly ambitious and cult film. I give it 10 out of 10.
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The Treasure of the Sierra Madre
Sunrise: A Song of Two Humans
The Best Years of Our Lives
Nights of Cabiria
Judgment at Nuremberg
The Ox-Bow Incident
Kind Hearts and Coronets
Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?
The Grapes of Wrath
Witness for the Prosecution
Anatomy of a Murder
The Manchurian Candidate
Mr. Smith Goes to Washington
Out of the Past