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Apocalypse Now Redux

The questions facing potential purchasers of Francis Ford Coppola's re-edit of his 1979 masterpiece, now called Apocalypse Now Redux, are: 1) Are there any extras?; and 2) Why did Coppola mess with the movie again in the first place? For this writer at least, the new version is better than the old one. But no, there are essentially no extras on Paramount's disc, which always leads one to expect that there might be a "special edition" looming in the future. Coppola has added about 49 minutes of new material and has re-organized some of what was already there. The insert in Paramount's disc of ANR helpfully segregates the new from the old. The new scenes are listing in the chapter chart in yellow. There are 14 chapters representing new material. Most of them are clustered together, (chapters 5 and 6, 10 through 13, 16 and 18 and 20, 24 through 27, and 32). There are two main sequences that are brand new, the Bunny-MedEvac scene, a much re-shot portion of the film that is poorly directed and reveals Coppola's discomfort with sex scenes, and the French plantation scene, in which Willard and company dine with an anachronistic French family led by the late Christian Marquand. Some reviewers have complained that this scene stops the film dead and is poorly acted (and partially inaudible thanks to thick accents), but it is the only scene in the film in which Vietnam politics is explicitly addressed. Put back in, all the deleted scenes serve to change the character of Willard, who goes from a passive observer to a competent man of action (readers seeking more details of the film's different versions and shooting history can consult the excellent The Apocalypse Now Book by Peter Cowie, from Da Capo Press, ISBN 0.306.810463.8). There is much, much more that Coppola and Paramount could have put on this disc, we are not expecting a Special Edition anytime soon. The DVD offers a clean anamorphic transfer (approx 2:1) that is free of the black spots and white speckles that marred the original disc, as befits a recently restored film. Strangely, the Dolby Digital 5.1 audio sounds a little better on the earlier disc than on this new one, even though both discs were authored by Coppola's Zoetrope lab (dialogue in the second Air Cav raid is clearer, for example). The disc also comes with English subtitles and closed-captioning. Supplements include the Apocalypse Now Redux theatrical trailer and a one-sheet insert with the chapter selections. Keep-case.
—D.K. Holm

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