When it was released in 1979, Apocalypse Now was a masterpiece. It still is a masterpiece, and it always will be a masterpiece – end of story. Ignore the film's many detractors: Francis Ford Coppola's massive treatise on the nature of war itself, and the way that violence and horror totally infuse the human spirit, is an extraordinary film in every way possible. From the psychedelic, ear shredding musical score to the dank, almost palpably jungle-moist cinematography and the intense emotional journey taken by Martin Sheen's Captain Willard that ends in a philosophical cesspool with Marlon Brando's mad military commander Colonel Kurtz, Apocalypse Now is a bruising example of everything that modern cinema can and should be.
So this newly restored, and wholly reinvigorated, take on the classic should be welcomed with open arms. As well as the incredible vibrancy of the new print, and the pumping glory of the remastered sound, Apocalypse Now Redux also offers joys of a totally thrilling nature: nearly an hour of now infamously excised scenes. Entirely new sequences fit seamlessly back into the existing film as added stops down the river: the boat stops at a frozen-in-time French plantation where Captain Willard gets a lesson in the snaking, convoluted politics of Vietnam from the French colonials who have been there their whole lives; a freaked out meeting with the Playboy Bunnies, now stranded and bordering on insanity in a debased, uncommanded, teetering-on-madness military outpost; a brief sequence with Marlon Brando's shadowy Colonel Kurtz (in broad daylight!) reading from an issue of Time Magazine about the situation in Vietnam; and more fun with Robert Duvall's Colonel Kilgore, where the previously humourless Captain Willard steals the mad despot's prized surfboard on a mischievous whim.
These amazing scenes add depth, surprising humour and hereto-unexplored lashings of sex to a film already overflowing with brilliance and imagination. To rephrase Captain Willard, this movie will “put a zap on your head.” Pure, unadulterated brilliance.