Hopefully this will satisfy the legendary Francis Ford Coppola. Personally, while I did love Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, and give it an A+ grade, it’s not perfection as the French plantation scene still drags the film down.
Apocalypse Now: Final Cut
— 40th Anniversary Edition —
Genre(s): War, Drama, Action
Lionsgate | Unrated/R – 153 min. / 182 min. / 202 min. – $34.99 | August 27, 2019
Date Published: 08/26/2019 | Author: The Movieman
Lionsgate provided me with a free copy of the Blu-ray I reviewed in this Blog Post.
The opinions I share are my own.
Note: The screen captures come from the included Blu-ray disc and do not represent the 4K UHD picture quality.
THE MOVIE — 4.75/5
Plot Synopsis: In Vietnam in 1970, Captain Willard (MARTIN SHEEN) takes a perilous and increasingly hallucinatory journey upriver to find and terminate Colonel Kurtz (MARLON BRANDO), a once-promising officer who has reportedly gone completely mad. In the company of a Navy patrol boat filled with street-smart kids, a surfing-obsessed Air Cavalry officer (ROBERT DUVALL), and a crazed freelance photographer (DENNIS HOPPER), Willard travels further and further into the heart of darkness.
Review: I don’t think there was a better director in the 1970s than Francis Ford Coppola, and on a personal level, every one of his films from the two Godfather movies to The Conversation, are easily in my all-time top 15, also included was Apocalypse Now Redux, which I last saw back in 2002 or so but like Ridley Scott and Blade Runner, apparently Coppola wasn’t always completely satisfied neither with the heavily edited 1979 version nor the lengthy 2001 Redux either. Now with The Final Cut, it would seem he found the sweet spot and running time, it is in between the two clocking in at just over three hours (155 minutes without credits).
Now, I can only go on my memory and honestly, I don’t remember what was missing from the Redux version but visiting the wonderful movie-censorship website, what was ultimately removed was not missed. Unfortunately, the French plantation scenes remain, I say unfortunate because while the acting was fine, it did gravely slow the movie to an almost stand-still. It’s understandable why Coppola would like it, not only are these quiet moments before we get to the important scenes later where we first meet Brando’s Kurtz, but another example of juxtaposition of the horrors of war a location that’s peaceful, drinking wine and eating well. But watching this scene again, outside of Sheen’s scene with Aurore Clément was wonderful, everything else at the dinner table just dragged and felt pointless.
In any case, now watching this “Final Cut” and seeing the movie after at least a decade, damn if this doesn’t only just hold up, but is in some ways relevant to today’s events. The acting is top notch from Martin Sheen though being a bit of a low key character, can get overshadowed by Robert Duvall’s colorful if not callous Lt. Colonel Kilgore who was both a hoot and eye-opening-ly scary in a sense; and also, of course, Marlon Brando who received top billing though only makes a physical appearance well over two hours in. Brando was great and his presence was certainly effective for a fairly brief screen time.
Apocalypse Now: Final Cut is not perfect with the French plantation sequence dragging thing down, however this is still a fantastic surreal war drama featuring excellent performances all around and if for whatever reason you haven’t caught this movie, or maybe its been a long time, this version is still very well done and I can only hope this will satisfy Francis Ford Coppola as the “Final Cut” had for Ridley Scott and Blade Runner.
SPECIAL FEATURES – 5.0/5
This six-disc set comes housed in a fold-out digi-pack with a card folding over that can be removed. There are three trays with two discs each that overlap the other. Not a big fan as I’d prefer an HD keep case and if this gets damaged, you’re SOL.
Disc 1 (4K UHD):
Final Cut Intro by Francis Ford Coppola (4:22) – Coppola details why he came up with this version to correct some of the drawbacks of both the 1979 original and 2001 Redux versions.
Disc 2 (4K UHD):
Audio Commentary with Francis Ford Coppola on Apocalypse Now Redux.
Disc 3 (Blu-ray):
Final Cut Intro by Francis Ford Coppola (4:22)
Disc 4 (Blu-ray):
Audio Commentary with Francis Ford Coppola on Apocalypse Now Redux.
Disc 5 (Blu-ray):
Interview with John Milius (49:45) – Conducted in 2010, Milius and Coppola discuss the film in a pretty fascinating interview between the pair, with the focus on Milius and how he came up with the story.
A Conversation with Martin Sheen and Francis Ford Coppola (59:26) is another wonderfully interesting interview, this time providing the actor’s side of the production.
Fred Roos: Casting Apocalypse (11:44) is an interview with the casting director (and producer) on getting the right actors.
The Mercury Theatre On the Air: Hearts of Darkness (36:34) is a 1938 radio telling of the story the movie is loosely based upon.
The Hollow Men (16:57) is a telling of the T.S. Elliot poem by Brando’s Kurtz character set against footage from Vietnam.
Monkey Sampan “Lost Scene” (3:03) that, I guess was found later. Kind of creepy for sure.
Additional Scenes (26:28) – There are 12 scenes that were either trimmed or cut down. There are in rough shape.
“Deconstruction of the Kurtz Compound” End Credits (6:06) are basically alternate credits with a look at the Kurtz’s compound being bombed. Includes a non-optional commentary by Coppola.
The Birth of 5.1 Sound (5:54) is about utilizing the early days of 5.1 surround sound and how the movie was first to utilize it.
Ghost Helicopter Flyover (3:55) is a sound effects demonstration.
“The Synthesizer Soundtrack” is a text article by Bob Moog from 1980.
A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now (17:57) looks at the work done to edit down so much footage that Coppola shot.
The Music of Apocalypse Now (14:46) on the music and score and how it played into the story and characters.
“Heard Any Good Movies Lately?” (15:22) delves into the sound design.
The Final Mix (3:09) is a behind-the-scenes featurette on the mixing of the film that took an incredible nine months. Includes some footage from 1978-79.
Apocalypse Then and Now (3:44) looks at the construction of the Redux version of the film circa 2000.
2001 Cannes Film Festival: Francis Ford Coppola (38:35) is an interview with Coppola conducted by the late great Roger Ebert.
PBR Streetgang (4:09) – This featurette is on the boat crew and includes publicity interviews with Laurence Fishburne, Sam Bottoms, Frederic Forrest and Albert Hall. Also has archive footage of the actors rehearsing.
The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now (4:06) looks at the utilization of technicolor on the film.
Disc 6 (Blu-ray):
Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1:36:00) is the amazing documentary on the making of Apocalypse Now and includes numerous interviews with the filmmakers and actors. Includes an optional commentary with Francis Ford Coppola and Eleanor Coppola.
Tribeca Film Festival Q&A (47:34) from 2019 featuring Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Soderbergh.
Super 8MM Behind-the-Scenes Footage (21:39) is some cool stuff from the production, obtained back in 2004 from production sound mixer Jack C. Jacobsen. There’s no sound but still interesting to watch something from that era.
Dutch Angle: Chas Gerresten & Apocalypse Now (31:44) – This featurette is on the Dutch photographer who was on set in 1976-77 and we get to see these pictures were never seen until now.
Apocalypse Now: Remastering a Legend in Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos (2:50) is an interesting technical look at upgrading the movie to the latest technology. Only wish this was a lot longer…
Apocalypse Now: A Forty-Year Journey (2:21) is a comparison of the various versions over the years: VHS, Betemax, Laserdisc, Laserdisc Widescreen, VHS Widescreen, DVD, Blu-ray (2010) and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray.
Sensual Sound Technology from Meyer Sound (3:52) is on the sound design worked on by the company.
John Milius Script Excerpt with Francis Ford Coppola Notes is a still gallery of the filmmaker’s notes from the time.
Rounding things out we get a Storyboard Collection, Photo Archive with Unit Photography and Mary Ellen Mark Photography and a Marketing Archive which includes the 1979 Teaser Trailer (1:29), 1979 Theatrical Trailer (3:56), 1979 Radio Spots (2:05), 1979 Theatrical Program, Lobby Card and Press Kit Photos and a Poster Gallery.
4K UHD VIDEO – 5.0/5, BD VIDEO
|Lionsgate unveils the latest, and presumably, final physical release of Apocalypse Now on the newest 4K Ultra HD format and frankly, it looks absolutely brilliant. Although my television does not have the Dolby Vision technology, still the HDR gives the film a nice shine to the 2160p high-definition transfer. The picture itself, on both the 4K UHD and Blu-ray, looks fantastic with sharp detail throughout, bright colors (and there are plenty of scenes where this is on display such as the smoke flares) and black levels appear stark without appearing overly crushed, none more than with Brando’s first reveal where we see some features on his face, the background shrouded in darkness.
Should be noted, all three movies (1979 Original, Redux and Final Cut) were given 2160p HD transfers and in the original aspect ratios.
AUDIO – 4.75/5
|All three versions have been given Dolby Atmos tracks while their Blu-ray counterparts were given Dolby TrueHD 5.1 tracks, for some reason, especially on the Final Cut. Focusing on the 4K discs, the audio does sound amazing with well done directional audio that’s in keeping with how the original sound design with a slight bolstering, most notably during the war scenes, like the Napalm bombing or even slighter elements like soldiers screaming/yelling from the sidelines or choppers flying and/or landing just to side or off screen. This is an incredible lossless track and even the TrueHD tracks still sounded marvelous in its own right.|
OVERALL – 4.75/5
Hopefully like Ridley Scott and the Final Cut of Blade Runner, this will satisfy the legendary Francis Ford Coppola. Personally, while I did love Apocalypse Now: Final Cut, and give it an A+ grade, it’s not perfection as the French plantation scene still drags the film down, otherwise this is probably the version I’ll watch again. This “40th Anniversary Edition” 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release is complete with a ton of bonus material and the video/audio transfers were amazing.
The screen captures came from the Blu-ray copy and are here to add visuals to the review and do not represent the 4K video.