Apocalypse Now


Viewed – 21 April 2012  Blu-ray

Collector’s edition

When it comes to war movies, few have the legendary legacy of this 1979 epic.  Directed by cinematic auteur Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather Trilogy) and starring Martin Sheen as a grizzled soldier whose seen too much and done too much.  This tells the story of a planned assassination against a rogue Colonel (Marlon Brando) during the backdrop of the Vietnam war.  Perhaps in subsequent years, this movie has become more famous for its trouble production than its majesty on the screen, which is a shame as this is shot in a stunningly poetic style, with great use of music from the likes of The Doors to The Rolling Stones, that really hammers home the madness of one of the most unpopular wars in history.

Coppola has created a grand vision, that although a little lacking in the pace department, and with an over-use of moody voice over, is filled with diverse characters (including a scene stealing Dennis Hopper) and stunning set-piece battle scenes (the ride of the Valkyries comes to mind – Charley Don’t Surf!) with simply gorgeous cinematography from Vittorio Storaro.  If comparing it to the likes of Full Metal Jacket, Platoon etc, it doesn’t quite have the edge for me, but instead has its own identity, and the humbling dream-like mood at times certainly packs a punch.  Combine this with quality performances, most notably Sheen but also an enigmatic Brando in a memorable final act – this still deserves its place in movie history.

This Blu-ray release has been overseen by the Director himself, and it shows.  This 70mm filmed movie explodes with colour and detail, making it one of the best I have seen.  In places the movie does show its age, but surprisingly comes to life more in the night scenes than anywhere else.  Close-up detail is good and overall the image is clean and very enjoyable.  Add to this impressive sound from the DTS HD Master Audio Soundtrack, as this was one of the first movie’s to pioneer 5.1 sound, with the action and the music really delivering.  Extras for this 3 disk edition are exhaustive.  We have both versions of the movie on the first disk (I watched the theatrical cut), both with an audio commentary from Coppola.  We also get the feature-length documentary The Heart Of Darkness, as well as a wealth of interviews, featurettes, image galleries, trailers and much more.  One of the finest Blu-ray releases yet.

Verdict:

(the movie) 4 /5

(the Blu-ray) 5 /5

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