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DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Outsiders

Francis Ford Coppola’s 1983 adaptation of S.E. Hinton’s novel didn’t scale the heights of his best work, but provided an interesting showcase for actors who would go on to stardom in the ensuing decade.

What happened to Coppola after his dizzying creative heights of the 1970s?

After making some of the greatest films in the history of American cinema with The Godfather I & II, The Conversation and Apocalypse Now, his work in the 1980s represents a mixed bag to say the least.

One from the Heart (1982) was a creative and financial disaster, but his following project had an unusual genesis, where a group of Fresno school children wrote to him requesting that he adapt their favourite novel.

That was Hinton’s coming-of-age story which she wrote as a teenager in the late 1960s about a group of friends in Tulsa, Oklahoma known as ‘Greasers‘ and their battles with the richer Socs (pronounced “soashes” – short for ‘social’).

The story focuses on the lives of Ponyboy Curtis (C. Thomas Howell), his two brothers (Rob Lowe and Patrick Swayze), as well as friends Cade (Ralph Macchio), Dally Winston (Matt Dillon), Two-Bit Matthews (Emilio Estevez), Steve Randle (Tom Cruise) and an out of reach girl (Diane Lane).

Looking back it was an extraordinary cast, filled with actors who would go on to bigger things, although the focus is largely on Howell, Macchio and Dillon and future stars like Cruise and Swayze remain tucked away in supporting roles.

Shot on location in Oklahoma, the period is impressively evoked by Coppola and his production designer Dean Tavalouris and the performances are all believable, effectively bringing Hinton’s world to life.

The widescreen visuals by cinematographer by Stephen H. Burum are not up to the iconic work of Gordon Willis on The Godfather or Vittorio Storaro’s work on Apocalypse Now, but they are often elegantly framed and look as good as they’ve ever done on this Blu-ray release.

However, there’s something about the film that lacks the magic ingredient to make it truly special and three years later Rob Reiner’s Stand By Me (1986) would capture a similar period with much more weight and charm.

It seems Coppola never fully recovered from the arduous production of Apocalypse Now and the personal hell of that period perhaps meant he wasn’t prepared to go to the creative extremes that he had previously.

That said, this Blu-ray is interesting as it features the special DVD cut which came out in 2005 after the director decided to reinsert scenes which were omitted for commercial reasons first time around.

Part of Coppola’s deal after the huge success of The Godfather was ownership (or part-ownership) of his work and one of the benefits is that his company Zoetrope keeps the negatives in decent condition.

The 1080p restoration presented in its proper aspect ratio of 2:35 is excellent and makes the period come alive in a way that earlier formats didn’t allow, with the colours and tones looking resplendent.

A new 5.1 DTS HD Master audio track is also solid, boosting the dialogue and early 1960’s soundtrack.

SPECIAL FEATURES

  • Director’s cut Version with 22 minutes of new footage: Given that this has never been shown that much on UK TV in recent years, perhaps some viewers here won’t remember the original cut. If you listen to the cast commentary they sometime express surprise at a scene or musical cue that wasn’t in the original. Given that the film was inspired by fans writing a letter to Coppola and that distributor Warner Bros. persuaded him to make it shorter, it is appropriate that he should put back those missing scenes for this version.
  • Introduction and New audio Commentary by Francis Ford Coppola: As with Coppola is an engaging presence on the commentary track describing his aims with the film and sharing production stories. Listen out for his paternal pride when his daughter Sofia makes a cameo.
  • Audio commentary by Matt Dillon, C. Thomas Howell, Diane Lane, Rob Lowe, Ralph Macchio and Patrick Swayze: One of the nice things that Coppola does when he revisits a film for the DVD or Blu-ray versions is to do some ‘reunion’ interviews with cast members. In 2005 he assembled C. Thomas Howell, Diane Lane, Ralph Macchio and Patrick Swayze for dinner and afterwards they sat down to watch the film and their commentary was recorded. Matt Dillon and Rob Lowe’s commentary was dubbed in later, although the transitions are pretty seamless, and it is a little like a high school reunion with the good vibes coming across nicely.
  • Staying Gold – A Look Back at The Outsiders: A nice retrospective documentary with interviews from cast and crew. Coppola’s use of the then new technology of video to record rehearsals makes for some interesting footage of the young cast.
  • S.E. Hinton on Location in Tulsa: The author takes around the locations which inspired the novel and became places where they later filmed sequences for the movie.
  • The Casting of The Outsiders: Producer Fred Roos became famous earlier in his career for casting Petulia (1968) and his eye for emerging actors came in especially handy with The Outsiders. It became famous as a showcase of actors who would go on to have significant careers.
  • 7 cast members read extracts from the novel: Another nice touch as Lowe, Swayze, Howell, Dillon, Macchio, Garrett and Lane read extracts from the novel like it was a radio play (it was recorded in 2005).
  • NBC’s News Today from 1983 The Outsiders: A news report from around the release of the film highlighting the story of the school children who wrote to Coppola requesting that it become a film.
  • Started by School Petition: A short feature on the origins of the project.
  • Six deleted or extended scenes
  • Trailer from 1983
The Outsiders is out now on Blu-ray from Studiocanal
> Buy The Outsiders on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon UK
> Find out more about the original novel at Wikipedia
Categories
DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

The Conversation

Francis Ford Coppola’s masterful thriller forms an important part of his incredible run of films during the 1970s.

Surveillance expert Harry Caul (Gene Hackman) is recruited to track and record a young couple (Cindy Williams and Frederic Forrest) in San Francisco’s crowded Union Square.

A loner by nature, he gradually begins to suspect the motives behind the man who hired him to do the job (Robert Duvall) and becomes obsessed with a piece of audio that may (or may not) hold the key to his concerns.

Beginning with a stunning opening sequence that is a master class in cinematography, sound and editing, this is a slow-burn film about paranoia and technology, whose relevance has only increased over time.

Back in the mid-1970s it seemed eerily prescient as the Watergate scandal unfolded around the time of release and it has a new topicality now in an era where much of modern life is recorded and put online.

Coppola’s other films in the 1970s were amongst the greatest of the New Hollywood era: The Godfather (1972), The Godfather Part II (1974) and Apocalypse Now (1979) are not just masterpieces of the time but also landmark films in American cinema.

The Conversation opened in April of 1974 and although it won the Palme d’Or at Cannes, in retrospect it has always been overshadowed by the success of The Godfather sequel, which opened around Christmas of that year.

At the 47th Academy Awards, both films competed against each other, with his gangster epic becoming the first sequel ever to win Best Picture.

An extraordinary feat, the only downside was that The Conversation has slightly suffered in retrospect, which is a shame as it reveals as much about power as the Godfather films did.

Gene Hackman gives one of his greatest performances as a haunted man who knows only too well that the technology he employs to snoop on people can be used against him.

Methodical yet dignified, he creates a compelling protagonist in a role which in other films would be the part of the token technical geek, but here becomes something else.

Coppola and Hackman combined to show that it is often the technical people who wield the real power and responsibility in society, and the unbearable tension this can create inside of them.

Other roles are expertly cast: look out for a young Harrison Ford as the sinister assistant to Robert Duvall; Jon Cazale as Hackman’s assistant and Teri Garr as the distant girlfriend.

But the real stars of the film are behind the camera and repeat viewings reveal the masterful technical work by Coppola, DP Bill Butler and editor/sound designer Walter Murch.

Coppola was heavily influenced by Antonioni’s Blow-up (1966) and wanted to do for sound recording what that film had done for photography.

Featuring one of the most intricate and accomplished sound designs of the 1970s, Murch really cemented his reputation with some stunning work on this film as supervising editor and sound designer.

Not only are the sounds we hear crucial to the plot, but the overall construction creates a sense of uncertainty which effectively lends us the ears of the central character.

Coppola made sound an integral part of the narrative and in some ways laid the ground for the innovations on Apocalypse Now, which was effectively the first film to have a 5.1 surround mix.

On the Bu-ray, the uncompressed audio is a joy to behold and gives it the carefully crafted sound mix the attention it deserves.

In fact this disc offers the film’s original mono track in lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0, but also a lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix, which has been crafted with considerable care and attention (this is probably down to the fact that Coppola still co-owns distribution rights to the film).

David Shire’s restrained but haunting score also adds to the melancholy mood and sounds wonderful in the new mixed audio.

The visuals are another story. Originally Coppola hired Haskell Wexler after his pioneering work on Medium Cool (1968) but they soon fell out after completing the opening sequence.

San Francisco provided a memorable backdrop for Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958) and Coppola seems to play on that film’s themes of obsession and cruelty.

He also draws on some of the subjects explored in The Godfather films, such as Catholicism, crime and power, despite the different period and context.

The transfer here may appear grainy at times but as Coppola explains in the commentary track, he wanted to use different film stocks and zoom lenses in order to give the film a verite vibe and the feel of a surveillance video, which explains the odd camera movements at certain moments.

Other than that, it looks great with the colours, clarity and contrast looking great and as good as it ever has in the home.

At the time there was a lot of press speculation that the bugging technology used in the film was similar to that used in the Watergate break-in, even though Coppola admitted that this was coincidental.

But this fact reveals the film’s lasting power as a parable for man’s manipulation of tools in order to achieve certain ends: then it Nixon sanctioning the illegal bugging of political opponents; in recent years, it was Bush signing the Patriot Act to snoop on citizens.

So despite the period setting, the core themes give it a lasting relevance and there’s much that happens that makes it ideal for home viewing, with many elements not immediately apparent on a first watch.

Keep your eyes and ears open for the use of colour, musical motifs, carefully written dialogue and the surprising sympathy we feel for the central character.

We come to connect with a professional eavesdropper who becomes vicariously involved people he’s never met.

Isn’t that a brilliant metaphor for watching a movie?

EXTRAS

  • Feature Commentary with Writer-Director Francis Ford Coppola: An outstanding audio commentary, filled with useful detail, in which Coppola provides the context for the film and his specific influences and aims. He covers an impressive range of subjects including casting, filming and editing with his usual insight and intelligence.
  • Feature Commentary with Editor Walter Murch: Coppola’s creative partner in so many of his key movies deserves his own track as the film is so dependent on editing and sound. An essential listen for those curious about the craft of constructing the audio landscape of a film he
  • Close-Up on The Conversation (8:39): An archive promotional featurette showing Coppola and Hackman on set.
  • Cindy Williams Screen Test (5:02): This shows the actress reading for the part that actually went to Teri Garr.
  • Harrison Ford Screen Test (6:45): Ford’s audition for the part that Frederic Forrest ended up playing makes for an interesting ‘what if’ clip.
  • “No Cigar” (2:26): A short 1956 student film by Coppola, which the director feels was an early influence on the character of Harry Caul.
  • Harry Caul’s San Francisco – Then And Now (3:43): A slideshow look at several locations from the film as they were in 1973 and as they appear now.
  • David Shire Interviewed by Francis Ford Coppola (10:57): Shire talks about scoring the film and how important music was to setting the film’s melancholy mood.
  • Archival Gene Hackman Interview (4:04): An interview with Hackman on the set of the film.
  • Script Dictations from Francis Ford Coppola (49:23) Great audio feature where Coppola dictates the screenplay, playing along to typed versions of the pages and clips from the film.
  • Theatrical Trailer (HD; 2:50)

> Buy The Conversation on Blu-ray or DVD from Amazon UK
> Screenshots of the Blu-ray at DVD Beaver

 

Categories
DVD & Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray: Apocalypse Now

One of the greatest films of the 1970s gets a worthy Blu-ray release which ranks amongst the finest ever in the format.

The reputation of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War drama has enhanced considerably since its release in 1979 and it looks stunning in this restored version, which includes the original cut, the 2001 redux version and Hearts of Darkness, the 1991 documentary about the making of the film.

Part of the joy of seeing Apocalypse Now in high-definition is that the original film set new standards for visual and audio presentation, whilst at the same time remaining a relevant story about the corrosive horrors of war.

It really is a case of new technology reminding you of the brilliance of a timeless classic.

The pristine high-definition transfer was personally overseen by Coppola and it isn’t an exaggeration to say that it almost looks like a contemporary release.

Presented at long last in the film’s original aspect ratio of 2.35:1, the 1080p image is stunning and the details and colours look sublime.

Long-time fans of the film will geek out at so many of the memorable set-pieces such as the opening, the helicopter attack set to Wagner and the climax but a younger generation of viewers used to CGI-fuelled epics might also find the film a revelation.

The film is rightly famous for its pioneering approach to audio and the DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is simply on another level.

Coppola and Walter Murch essentially pioneered what would become known as 5.1 sound with Apocalypse Now and the use of sound in the film is astonishing.

The masterful blend of helicopter rotors with hotel fans in the opening sequence and the innovative synthesised score by Carmine Coppola are just some of the aural elements that are presented on the lossless audio track with sparkling fidelity.

Aside from the quality of the film and its HD presentation, this 3-disc package comes with an abundance of extras, which break down as follows.

DISC ONE

Two versions of the film are included on disc one: the original 1979 theatrical cut (2h 27m) and Apocalypse Now Redux (3h 16m).

Although the Redux cut is interesting I much prefer the original theatrical cut, which has more punch and narrative drive.

My advice is to watch the original version before viewing the Redux edition, as it does contain some interesting scenes, notably a lengthy sequence on a plantation and a different introduction to Col. Kilgore (Robert Duvall).

Coppola recorded a separate commentary for each edition and they are worth listening to as he describes his reasons for excluding the scenes which were later inserted into the Redux edition.

DISC TWO

Most of the extras are found on this and although some of it has appeared on previous DVD editions, Coppola has recorded three special interviews especially for this release.

  • A Conversation with Martin Sheen (59:26): This fascinating chat between the director and his leading man sees them discuss the casting process (Harvey Keitel was the original choice for Willard), the arduous shoot (Sheen had a heart attack during filming) and various anecdotes from the set. Both seem to have a genuine affection and respect for one another and for fans of the film it is a rich conversation and an essential watch.
  • An Interview with John Milius (49:45): As Coppola freely acknowledges during this interview, screenwriter John Milius was the man behind many of the central ideas and scenes in the film. The title, the notion of basing it on Hearts of Darkness and the helicopter sequence set to Wagner were all his ideas, even though the film evolved during filming. Perhaps most fascinating are the early, experimental roots of the project, which was to shoot it in Vietnam with George Lucas shooting it in black and white (during the actual war!). By the way, fans of The Big Lebowski might like to note that the character of Walter Sobchack (played by John Goodman) is inspired by Milius.
  • Fred Roos: Casting Apocalypse (11:44): One of the most interesting aspects of Apocalypse Now is the casting process, some of which we actually see courtesy of various sessions which were filmed. In this interview casting director Fred Roos talks about the hundreds of actors who tested for different parts.
  • Mercury Theater Production of ‘Heart of Darkness’ (36:34): A neat inclusion is the audio of the Mercury Theatre’s radio production of Conrad’s novella, which features Orson Welles and his regular acting troupe just a week after infamous ‘War of the Worlds’ broadcast.
  • The Hollow Man (16:57): An impressionistic featurette with scenes from the film and production set against Brando reciting T.S. Eliot’s poem.
  • Monkey Sampan Deleted Scene (3:03): A deleted scene which fans of The Doors might appreciate as it sees natives singing ‘Light My Fire’ (Jim Morrison went to film school with Coppola)
  • Additional Scenes (26:28): There are around 12 deleted scenes included here (some are time coded), of which perhaps the most interesting is the one involving Scott Glenn appearing at Kurtz’s compound.
  • Destruction of the Kurtz Compound (6:06): The precise ending of the film has been the subject of much debate as it has changed throughout the years. Although the proper ending is presented on this version of the film, Coppola explains why a final credits sequence was used for various theatrical and TV showings of the film and how it got misinterpreted over time.
  • The Birth of 5.1 Sound (5:54): An short but highly illuminating featurette in which Ioan Allen of Dolby explains why Apocalypse Now brought about a revolution in cinema sound and indirectly led to the birth of the now standard 5.1 sound.
  • Ghost Helicopter Flyover (3:55): Keeping on the sound elements of the film this explores the surround sound design for a particular sequence.
  • The Synthesizer Soundtrack (Text): A reprint from Keyboard magazine which examined the then innovative use of synths on the soundtrack.
  • A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of ‘Apocalypse Now’ (17:57): A lot of the production of Apocalypse Now was filmed for posterity and this look at editor Walter Murch working on the film is fascinating.
  • Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of ‘Apocalypse Now’ (15:22): Another fascinating glimpse in to the sound design of the film that uses footage from the Zoetrope archives, showing how films were constructed in the pre-digital era.
  • The Final Mix (3:09): The studio setup used to achieve the final mix looks like something out of an old sci-fi film but this featurette shows how the amazing final mix was achieved in an analogue world.
  • ‘Apocalypse’ Then and Now (3:44): Brief discussion of the differences between both versions of the film.
  • 2001 Cannes Film Festival: Francis Ford Coppola (38:35): Lengthy interview at the American Pavilion during Cannes 2001 (as the Redux version was premiered) between Roger Ebert and Coppola as they discuss various aspects of the film, including the original Cannes premiere in 1979.
  • PBR Streetgang (4:09): Profiles from 2001 where the actors playing Willard’s crew – including Laurence Fishburne and Timothy Bottoms – talk about their experiences on the film.
  • The Color Palette of ‘Apocalypse Now’ (4:06): Another 2001 supplement which discusses how the visuals were restored for the Redux version using the three strip dye transfer Technicolor process.

DISC THREE

  • Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1h 36m): The real highlight of the supplements is this extraordinary 1991 documentary that details the long and painful production of the film. Directed by Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper, it uses footage shot on set by Coppola’s wife Eleanor and features interviews with key cast and crew to paint an unforgettable portrait of how a Hollywood classic came to the screen. Possibly the best ever ‘making-of’ film ever made (closely followed by Les Blank’s Burden of Dreams), it remains the most compelling look at the mammoth challenges facing the director and his crew during production. Not only did Coppola invest a large chunk of his personal wealth into the film, but he had to deal with firing his original leading man days into filming, tropical storms which destroyed sets, Martin Sheen having a heart attack, and Marlon Brando and Dennis Hopper refusing to use the script. Eleanor Coppola gave her on-set footage to Bahr and Hickenlooper, who then filmed the new interviews, which were then cut edited together with her previous material. Much of it is absolute gold for fans of the film, but what makes this version particularly fascinating is the addition of audio commentaries by Francis and Eleanor which provide new and interesting perspectives on both the production and the documentary. Francis claims that it painted a darker portrait of him than was actually the case as Eleanor wasn’t filming always on set and that there were times when the shooting went smoother than people seem to remember. That said, both come out with considerable credit as Francis’ financial and creative gamble with the film and Eleanor’s documenting of what it took to make it ultimately paid off.

The other supplements on this disc include:

  • John Milius Script Selections with Notes by Francis Ford Coppola (Text):
  • Storyboard Gallery
  • Photo Archive
  • Marketing Archive, featuring the original 1979 trailer, theatrical program, radio spots, press kit photos and a poster gallery (look out for the Japanese poster).

Overall this is the best looking version of the film and the plentiful extras make it an essential purchase.

> Buy Apocalypse Now on Blu-ray from Amazon UK
> Read my longer thoughts on revisiting Apocalypse Now
> Apocalypse Now at the IMDbWikipedia and MUBi

Categories
Cinema

Apocalypse Now Revisited

Francis Ford Coppola’s classic war movie Apocalypse Now gets re-released in a restored digital print at UK cinemas this week before a special edition Blu-ray release on June 13th.

The new restored print is a reminder of this extraordinary 1979 film, which remains one the most ambitious productions ever attempted in Hollywood but also a lasting depiction of the insanity of warfare.

Set during the Vietnam War, it depicts the journey of a US special operations officer, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) who is sent to assassinate the rogue Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has established his own outpost in the jungle.

Willard joins the crew of a patrol boat (Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne and Frederic Forrest) and he meets various characters on his trip, including the surf-obsessed Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) and a manic photographer (Dennis Hopper).

Evolving over a number of years, with a script by John Milius loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness, Coppola decided it would be his next project after the huge success of The Godfather films.

It was rare then – and even rarer now – for a filmmaker to use his personal finances to help bankroll a film but Coppola did just that and it is to his lasting credit as this is a film that major studios wouldn’t even think of making today.

The gruelling production is now the stuff of legend, as the arduous shoot in the Philippines involved the director replacing his original lead actor (Harvey Keitel), sets wrecked by typhoons, Martin Sheen having a heart attack and numerous delays to the production and eventual release date.

On its original release the film was met with somewhat muted acclaim after an unfinished cut screened at the Cannes Film Festival in April 1979, before its wider US release later that summer.

But over the years it has become one of the most acclaimed films of the 1970s and its achievement and cultural influence has proved to be more lasting than perhaps some at the time realised.

Part of the initial confusion was the different versions of the ending that Coppola put out on the initial release and the extended ‘Redux’ cut released in 2001 which added scenes shot but never used for the original.

This new, restored version is the original cut that deliberately omits opening titles and end credits, although the sound and visuals have been given a sparkling upgrade overseen by Coppola.

It was the first time I’d seen this version on the big screen and it was really quite something to see and hear with decent projection and sound.

I’ll post some thoughts soon on the forthcoming Blu-ray, but I’d highly recommend seeing this film in a cinema to appreciate not just a classic film, but one that set new technical standards for the industry.

There’s obviously been a lot written about Apocalypse Now, but here were my initial thoughts on seeing the latest release on the big screen:

  • This is definitely the best version I have ever seen: My first experience of Apocalypse Now was on TV in 1988 and although I didn’t fully understand the film then, it still struck me as haunting and captivating. Subsequent viewings on TV and video only whetted my appetite to see it on the big screen and this restored version not only captures the amazing visuals but especially emphasises the pioneering sound mix.
  • It is better the 2001 Redux version: Ever since seeing the Redux cut, I’ve had problems with that version, which adds 49 minutes of scenes including an extended sequence involving a French colonial family. Whilst interesting, the original cut which omitted them is better paced and more tightly constructed.
  • The incredible sound design by Walter Murch: It is difficult to actually stress how important the sound editing and design was to the film and how it proved to be a watershed for the wider film industry. Walter Murch and his team not only recreated the sounds of the jungle from scratch but took the design of sound on film to new levels, using a computerized mixing board, fusing sound elements with the score through synthesizers and giving birth to 5.1 surround sound.
  • The stunning visuals by Vitorrio Storraro: Coppola recruited the Italian cinematographer after seeing his work on Bertolucci’s The Conformist (1970) and his astounding work on Apocalypse Now provides some of the most memorable cinema visuals of all time. Not only are sequences truly epic, but the use of colour and light is stunning.
  • The movement of the story: Although the original script went through rewrites and Coppola agonised over the ending of the film, the movement of the story makes a great deal of sense. Although long by modern standards (2h 27m), it neatly mimics the journey of Willard as we venture with him up river towards Kurtz and his destiny.
  • The Vietnam metaphor: Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a great basis for a film about the US experience of Vietnam, but Coppola’s film itself has become an even better one. The madness and ambition of the production – at times breathtaking – mirrors the insanity of the war itself. Willard (the US) has to confront the dark side of himself (the industrial, military complex) as represented by Kurtz. We see the trauma of the troops adjusting (the opening), commanders trying to salvage a bad situation (the briefing), the might of US military power (Kilgore and the napalm attack on the village), the excess (the Playboy event for the troops), the murder (the boat massacre) and ultimately the confrontation (Willard meets and kills Kurtz) in which the US sees the darkness of itself.
  • The rejection of war movie clichés: Notice how the Vietcong aren’t really the enemy in the film (they are massively overpowered in the beach sequence) and it focuses on the journey of a man who is mostly an observer (a witness, essentially) of the US army as it passes him. Kurtz is a Frankenstein creation of the US army. They only want to kill him because he has gone off the reservation (his ‘missions’ are too good) and become something of an embarrassment.
  • The spiritual accuracy of the film: Some military advisors to films have criticised Apocalypse Now as containing fantastical inaccuracies in its depiction of US troops in Vietnam. Whilst certain elements have been exaggerated for effect, part of what made the war so shocking to the American public was that US troops did – at times – engage in bizarre behaviour which involved drug use, loud music and war crimes. Whilst sections of the film may not be literally accurate, they stand as a compelling reminder of the grand madness of the conflict and how it affected those involved.

The forthcoming Blu-ray is one of the most significant home video releases of the year, but in the meantime the cinema is the best place to catch one of the enduring classics of US cinema.

Apocalypse Now is being re-released by Optimum Releasing at selected UK cinemas from Friday 27th May

> Apocalypse Now at the IMDb, Wikipedia and MUBi
> Find a cinema near you showing the restored version via Google Movies UK

Categories
blu-ray DVD & Blu-ray News

Apocalypse Now on Blu-ray

Details have been announced for the Blu-ray release of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now in two different versions on October 19th.

Although this is the US release date, a UK and worldwide release should be confirmed relatively soon.

The epic about a US army captain (Martin Sheen) sent to assassinate a rogue colonel gone native deep in the jungle (Marlon Brando) is one of the great films of the 1970s and a vivid depiction of the insanity of the Vietnam War.

There will be a regular 2-disc set and a more comprehensive Full Disclosure edition which includes George Hickenlooper’s memorable making of documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (1991), which will also be in 1080p.

The package will include the original 1979 theatrical cut and the extended Apocalypse Now Redux version (released back in 2001) and both will be presented in the original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.35:1.

For previous DVD releases cinematographer Vittorio Storaro made the curious decision to modify it to 2.00:1 (the Univisium format), which he thinks should be a universal ratio for all films.

But now audiences will be able to see the film in high definition as well as in its original theatrical aspect ratio for the first time.

The extras for the two editions break down like this:

2 FILM SET

  • Apocalypse Now – 1979 Cut
  • Apocalypse Now Redux
  • “A Conversation with Martin Sheen” interview by Francis Ford Coppola
  • “An Interview with John Milius” interview by Francis Ford Coppola
  • Complete Francis Ford Coppola interview with Roger Ebert at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival
  • Monkey Sampan “lost scene”
  • Additional Scenes
    • “Destruction of the Kurtz Compound” end credits with audio commentary by Francis Ford Coppola
    • “The Hollow Men,” video of Marlon Brando reading T.S. Eliot’s poem
  • Featurettes:
    • The Birth of 5.1 Sound
    • Ghost Helicopter Flyover sound effects demonstration
    • A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now
    • The Music of Apocalypse Now
    • Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now
    • The Final Mix
    • Apocalypse Then and Now
    • The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now
    • PBR Streetgang
    • The Color Palette of Apocalypse Now
    • The Synthesizer Soundtrack” article by music synthesizer inventor Bob Moog

FULL DISCLOSURE EDITION

Like the 2-Film Set above, plus the following:

  • Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse
  • Optional audio commentary with Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola
  • 48-page collectible printed booklet with special note from Francis Ford Coppola, never-before-seen archives from the set, behind the scenes photos and more
  • John Milius Script Excerpt with Francis Ford Coppola Notes
  • Storyboard Gallery
  • Photo Gallery, including images from photographer Mary Ellen Mark
  • Marketing Archive

[Via IGN UK]

> Apocalypse Now at Wikipedia and IMDb
> Pre-order the Blu-ray of Apocalypse Now at Amazon UK

Categories
Interesting

Francis Ford Coppola’s notebook for The Godfather

Francis Ford Coppola‘s insanely detailed notebook for The Godfather is revealing of his passion for the project and maybe a key reason the final film turned out so well.

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Interesting Technology The Daily Video

The Daily Video: Francis Ford Coppola on Technology

Aside from creating films like The Godfather and Apocalypse Now, director Francis Ford Coppola has always been passionate about technology and film preservation, as this clip from the TV documentary Memory and Imagination (1990) shows:

> Francis Ford Coppola at Wikipedia
> Memory and Imagination at the IMDb
> Michael Lawrence Films at YouTube