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Written by Graham Reed  
Monday, 05 July 2004
War is Hell.

Transplanting Joseph's Conrads novella "Heart of Darkness" to the Vietnam War was a bold move. Apocalyspe Now has attained legendary status, and quite deservably so, for charting one man's descent into madness and self-obsession whilst paralleling it with American involvement in other countries war - perhaps as pertinent a warning now as ever.

Whilst it has been surpassed in gory detail by "Saving Private Ryan" and similar war movies of late, "Apocalypse Now" is a brilliant depiction of the insanity of war, now restored with 50 minutes of unseen footage.

In it, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is dispatched into the heart of the Vietnamese jungle to find a renegade, out of control US army Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), and in doing so, "Apocalypse Now" uses its format to chart the sheer folly and brutality of the Vietnamese War with brilliant photography, an allegorical script and excellent performances from the leads.

The look of the film is haunting; with lush photography and stunning sound, reflecting the feeling of the late 60's accurately. Stand out sequences such as the dawn air raid on a Vietcong village, all soundtracked to Wagner while helicopters come out of the rising sun, are what make "Apocalypse Now" is a technical masterpiece. As a piece of film making it's rarely been surpassed.

The inclusion of the deleted scenes makes an already long film even longer, and slows the film with superflous detail that adds little to the film overall. Some add to the film immensely and some seem like additions only for the sake of it . The long rumoured French plantation sequence adds to the film only in length, and while adding some allegorical detail and background (as well as a totally unneccesary and mostly detracting love interest), would perhaps be better left to a "deleted scenes" section of a DVD. The later Playboy Bunnies sequence also adds unneeded sexuality to this film, if fleshing out character detail, unneccesarily so, but these scenes don't seem out of place in the slightest.

"Apocalypse Now: Redux" is a film from a different time. It has none of the technical flourishes and MTV jumpcuts a generation raised on "Saving Private Ryan" or Michael Bay might expect. It doesn't have any CGI. What it does have is an epic story, stunning photography, and superb performances.

"Apocalypse Now:Redux" is a film for anyone who loves cinema, but making it longer has made it a bigger, but lesser, film. Nonetheless, it knocks the socks off most other films you'll see all year.

All you get on the DVD as an extra is the trailer, but still; with a film this good it's the film you're buying it for, not the extra's. Magnificent.

"I love the smell of Napalm in the morning. Smells like...Victory"


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