Apocalypse Now Redux
There are a lot of directors who like to release “director’s cuts” of their movies, but Francis Ford Coppola is the champ in that regard. He tinkered endlessly with the Godfather movies, and apparently he was never really satisfied with this one. He has added 48 minutes to what was already a pretty long movie. Some of it is little snips and dabs extending certain scenes, but the centerpiece is a long scene at the rubber plantation of a French family who have been in Indo-China for seventy years, and are whistling in the dark, pretending they can maintain their privileged lifestyle in the face of the violence going on all around them. Good luck with that, I thought.
Whoever decided to cut all this, whether it was Coppola or studio execs, was dead right. It looks like it was imported from a whole different movie. Even the background music is just wrong, wrong, wrong. This is a movie about a descent into madness, both by Kurtz and Willard. It is not really about Vietnam at all, it’s about all war. So the long discussions here about politics are dreadfully out of place. Who the hell cares what happened at Dien Bien Phu in 1954? I mean, of course it was important, but in this context it all just lies there, laying one big egg. The scene totally breaks up the sequence of increasing insanity, starting with the helicopter raid on the little village, and climaxing with the execution of mad Colonel Kurtz. I have to say I’m glad I saw this, but please, please don’t look at it unless you’ve already seen the movie.