‘Apocalypse Now’ 40 Years Later

The acclaimed Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now has been a saga in more ways than one, plagued by a change of lead ac­tors from Harvey Keitel to Mar­tin Sheen, a typhoon in the Phil­ippines and Sheen’s heart attack during filming, critical and skeptical press, and multiple edits.

But this month for its 40th anniversary director Francis Ford Coppola re­leases what he considers his “final cut.”

Apocalypse Now Final Cut will be released in select Imax theaters Aug. 15 and 18, followed by region­al theaters Aug. 23 from NAGRA myCinema, and on 4K Ultra HD Combo Pack (two 4K discs, four Blu-ray discs and a digital copy) and digital 4K Ultra HD (for the first time ever) Aug. 27 featuring new special features from Li­onsgate. The release includes Dolby Vision HDR and Dol­by Atmos audio. In addition, the film has been enhanced with Meyer Sound Labo­ratories’ newly developed Sensual Sound, a technology engineered to output audio below the limits of human hearing. It’s all to realize the best version of the film. “A lot of the things that we did to truncate the movie I put back in this version,” said Coppola in a Q&A shot at the Tribeca Film Festival in April with director Steven Soder­bergh that is part of the extras.

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As for the problems that beset the production, doc­umented in the award-winning Hearts of Darkness (also included in the extras with footage shot during filming by Coppola’s wife, Eleanor), Coppola told So­derbergh, “In filmmaking and in life, extraordinary things happen to you, and it’s up to you to make them be positive.”

Brando

Restored from the original negative for the first time ever, Apocalypse Now Fi­nal Cut is Coppola’s most realized version of the film, which was nominated for eight Academy Awards, won three Golden Globes and is one of AFI’s top 100 films. Starring Sheen, Marlon Bran­do, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hop­per, Laurence Fishburne and Harrison Ford, the war epic, in­spired by Joseph Conrad’s story Heart of Darkness, follows Army Capt. Willard (Sheen), a trou­bled man sent on a dangerous odyssey into Cambodia to assassi­nate a renegade American colonel named Kurtz (Brando), who has succumbed to the horrors of war and barricaded himself in a remote outpost.

Duvall

“I had this idea to do it like The Guns of Navarone, some extraor­dinary, big World War II movie,” Coppola told Soderbergh. “The irony is that the movie took on its own life, became stranger and more surreal, and in a sense, I think it went in a direction correct for that issue — because the Viet­nam War was very strange.”

The very innovative nature of the film made Coppola cautious and worried. He decided to release a “work in progress” of the film at the Cannes Film Festival to allay critics who were calling it a disas­ter. It ended up winning the Palme d’Or triumph at the festival in 1979 (shared with The Tin Drum).

His caution resulted in a truncated cut of the film that he later expanded in the 2001 release Apocalypse Now Redux. But this is his ultimate cut.

“I realized that I wanted to make a version that I like,” Coppola said in the introduction to Final Cut included in the extras. “It was longer than the 1979 version but shorter than Apocalypse Now Redux, and it’s the one that I recommend to you and it’s the one that is my favorite.”

The 40th anniversary release features multiple archival and new special features, including the film’s theatrical cut and extended cut (Redux), as well as the acclaimed Hearts of Darkness documentary:

 

4K UHD SPECIAL FEATURES

DISC ONE

  • NEW: Introduction to Final Cut by Francis Ford Coppola

 

DISC TWO

  • Audio Commentary by Director Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now Redux)

 

DISC THREE

  • An Interview with screenwriter John Milius
  • A Conversation with Martin Sheen and Francis Ford Coppola
  • “Fred Roos: Casting Apocalypse” Featurette
  • The Mercury Theatre on the Air: Heart of Darkness – November 6, 1938
  • “The Hollow Men” Featurette
  • Monkey Sampan “Lost Scene”
  • Additional Scenes
  • “Destruction of the Kurtz Compound” End Credits (with Non-Optional Audio Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola)
  • “The Birth of 5.1 Sound” Featurette
  • “Ghost Helicopter Flyover” Sound Effects Demonstration
  • “The Synthesizer Soundtrack” Article by Bob Moog
  • “A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • “Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • “The Final Mix” Featurette
  • “2001 Cannes Film Festival: Francis Ford Coppola” Featurette
  • “PBR Streetgang” Featurette
  • “The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • Disc Credits

 

DISC FOUR

  • Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (with Optional Audio Commentary by Francis and Eleanor Coppola)
  • NEW: Tribeca Film Festival Q&A with Francis Ford Coppola and Steven Soderbergh
  • NEW: Super 8mm Behind-the-Scenes Footage
  • NEW: “Dutch Angle: Chas Gerresten & Apocalypse Now” Featurette
  • NEW: “Apocalypse Now: A Forty Year Journey” Featurette
  • NEW: “Sensual Sound Technology from Meyer Sound” Featurette
  • John Milius Script Excerpt with Francis Coppola Notes (Still Gallery)
  • Storyboard Collection
  • Photo Archive

–            Unit Photography

–            Mary Ellen Mark Photography

  • Marketing Archive

–            1979 Teaser Trailer

–            1979 Theatrical Trailer

–            1979 Radio Spots

–            1979 Theatrical Program

–            Lobby Card and Press Kit Photos

–            Poster Gallery

–            Apocalypse Now Redux Trailer

 

DIGITAL SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Audio Commentary by Director Francis Ford Coppola (Apocalypse Now Redux)

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