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Apocalypse Now


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#1 of 20 OFFLINE   benbess

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Posted May 12 2010 - 11:31 AM

I still think it's the best of the Vietnam films, although Platoon and Full Metal Jacket are also excellent.


When I saw the film, in the Fall of 1979, I could have sworn the whole thing ended with the Kurtz compound being blown to smithereens. I was blown away by the film too.


But then, seeing it on home video a decade later, the ending had changed. It ended not with a bang but with a whimper. I was puzzled for quite a while about that, but there's an answer on wikipedia that seems to explain it:


"For general release in 35mm, Coppola elected to show the credits superimposed over shots of Kurtz's base exploding.[32] Rental prints circulated with this ending, and can be found in the hands of a few collectors. However, when Coppola heard that audiences interpreted this as an air strike called by Willard, Coppola pulled the film from its 35 mm run, and put credits on a black screen. In the DVD commentary, Coppola explains that the images of explosions had not been intended to be part of the story; they were intended to be seen as completely separate from the film."


Why would Coppola think we wouldn't think it was part of the film??


Anyway, both endings work, and I think both should be kept.


I appears that a new HD master is being finished by FFC and Vittorio Storaro, the cinematographer for the film. There's some controversy about the aspect ratio, I guess...


There's information on this new master apparently from VS himself in a www.blu-ray.com thread on the film...Below is the whole post from blu-ray.com:




"This is an Email that VITTORIO STORARO replied to me when i questioned him on the aspect ratio for Apocalypse Now on Bluray.
My Question to him is at the bottom.


VITTORIO STORARO Roma 21-02-2010
(http://www.storarovittorio.com) (http://www.aureaweb.com)
Via Divino Amore 2-00040 Frattocchie-ROMA-Italia
Tel/Fax.+39-06-93547007
(E mail: vittorio@storarovittorio.com)


Dear Mr. Taylor
Recently I did again a Video transfer of "APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX" and I wrote the following letter to the Distributor of the DVD .
The following is my personal comment about the new HD Video master made in 1:2 aspect ratio of the Film "APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX" that I'm supervising with colorist Nazzareno Neri at Technicolor Rome.
It is a great privilege for me to be able to digitally RE-MASTER, once again, THIS GREAT CLASSIC MOVIE Directed by FRANCIS FORD COPPOLA. I did it already in Standard definition, initially in the original version as " APOCALYPSE NOW " and later in HD version for "APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX". I supervised the Video transfer in Los Angeles with colorist Lou Levinson and both version were transfered in 1:2 aspect ratio, each one of them approved by Mr.Francis Ford Coppola. Each time, also now, thanks to the improvement of the Electronic technology, I'm able to improve all the original Visual ideas that we had during the shooting of the Film with Mr.Coppola, that were impossible to complete exactly in the way we were thinking at that time, with the existing 1977 Film technology.
I believe that this one will be ONE OF THE BEST VIDEO MASTER THAT I EVER DID. As we did for Theater released with the Print on TECHNICOLOR DYE TRANSFER, today we can do with BLU-RAY technology.
I'm able finally to put on Video screen all the visual idea that we had originally with Francis at that time: the conflict between LIGHT and SHADOW and the musical movement of low-saturated or high-saturated COLORS that were underlined the dramaturgy of the story. And, overall, the COMPOSITION of the image that we decided to have for the VIDEO VERSION, without any technical and creative interferance from the usual standard that not necesserily are the best choice for the Authors of a Movie. THE MOVIE WAS FILMED IN ANAMORPHIC I:2,35, WAS PRINTED IN 70mm IN 1:2,21 AND IN 35mm IN 1:2,40 ASPECT RATIO FOR THEATER RELEASED. I REMEMBER THE VISUAL TRAGEDY THAT WE LIVED IN DOING THE FIRST TV VIDEO MASTER IN FULL SCREEN 1:1,35 ASPECT RATIO, PRATICALLY CUTTING 40% OF ALL THE IMAGES SO CAREFULLY COMPOSED IN THE FILM CAMERA AND THE REQUESTED NEW VIDEO VERSION IN 1:1,78 ASPECT RATIO. TOO MANY COMPOSITIONS OF THE FILM THAT EACH TIME WAS CUT TO FIT ANY POSSIBLE DIFFERENT NEED OF THE DIFFERENT REQUESTED SIZE. IT WAS LIKE CUTTING A PAINTING ACCORDING TO THE SIZE OF THE WALL WHERE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DISPLAYED. SO I REMEMBER THE SPECIFIC DECISION THAT WE HAD IN DOING THE FIRST LETTER BOX VERSION OF THE FILM, UNDERSTANDING THAT LOOKING AT A VIDEO SCREEN, AUDIENCES IS RECEIVING A DIFFERENT EXPERIENCE COMPARE TO THE FILM THEATER EXPERIENCE. THE DECISION THAT WE HAD WITH MR.COPPOLA WAS TO MAKE THE 1:2 COMPOSITION VERSION, SPECIFICALLY FOR VIDEO An ispiration that we had from the LEONARDO DA VINCI's perfect composition of the visual image: 1:2 (Like in his painting of "THE LAST SUPPER").
FRANCIS AND MYSELF LOVED ALL THE NEW VIDEO MASTER, THAT REPRESENT THE TODAY VISUALIZATION OF THE FILM IN VIDEO SCREEN, MADE AND APPROVED BY THE DIRECTOR AND THE CINEMATOGRAPHER.
I BELIEVE THAT THE MAIN AUTHORS OF THE MOVIE (DIRECTOR - CINEMATOGRAPHER) SHOULD BE ALLOWED TO RE-VISUALIZE THEIR CREATION IN A NEW WAY FOR THE VIEWERS OF A DIFFERENT MEDIA. I believe that FILM THEATER and VIDEO SCREEN are two different emotional experiences.
I BELIEVE THAT ANY ARTIST SHOULD BE ABLE TO RE-VISIT OR RE-STORE IN A MODERN WAY HIS OWN CREATION. I think that WE should put all our energy,TOGETHER, to have any distribution company NOT altereting the decision of Author's composition of every movie to accomodate the various FULL SCREEN VERSION (1:1,35 or 1:1,78) WITHOUT THE AUTHORIZATION OF THE MAIN AUTHORS OF THE FILM, changing the original composition of the image and, in doing that, alterating the movie itself.
I BELIEVE THAT ANY VIDEO DISTRIBUTION COMPANY SHOULD RESPECT THE AUTHORS WILL TO PRESENT THEIR FILM IN THE WAY IT SHOULD BE SEEING, EVEN WHEN THEY ARE IMPROVING WITH NEW TECHOLOGY THEIR ORIGINAL CREATION.
I think that this new version of "APOCALYPSE NOW REDUX" IT IS A GREAT VIDEO MASTER that only the main Author, Mr. Francis Ford Coppola, should decide if it need to be different. I'M SURE THAT YOU WILL LOVE THIS NEW HD VIDEO MASTER, MADE EXPRESS FOR YOUR COMPANY BUT IN RESPECT OF THE AUTHOR'S CHOICE. Sincerely Vittorio Storaro







Il giorno 11/feb/10, alle ore 06:19, EMC ha scritto:


Dear Mr Storaro.
With the advent of 1.77.1 widescreen televions pretty much all of the new Bluray movies that were shot in 35mm Anamorphic have been released in their Original Aspect Ratio of 2.35.1.
If this is the case, when Apocalypse Now is released on BLURAY will you be giving the 2.35.1 release or the cropped 2.1. versions that were released on Laserdisc and VHS.
Yours.
Edward Taylor"



#2 of 20 OFFLINE   Edwin-S

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Posted May 12 2010 - 03:52 PM

I can see what he is getting at, even though it  seems to be rather disjointed and rambling. However, the film being cropped from 2.35:1 to 2:1 is a perfect example that regardless whether the creators think they "improved" the film, the fact is that they are wrong. He brings a comparison to Da Vinci, but it doesn't seem to legitimate to me. Da Vinci picked his framing and went with it. He didn't, later, decide that the composition was wrong and chop the sides off his canvas until it fit his new paradigm of perfection, unlike Mr. Storaro and Mr. Coppola.


Also, he never really answers the question directly. He circuitously indicates that any Blu-ray release of the film will be in his "golden ratio" of 2:1, since apparently he thinks that Da Vinci was on to something.


I really liked this film when I originally saw it in the theatre and remember that it was one of the first BETA VCR movies that I rented when I bought my first player. While I was watching it, I found myself being incredibly bored with it so I shut it off and never rented it again. I could never figure why I found the movie so boring on home video. The answer didn't dawn on me until years later when I, by happenstance, rented it on Laserdisc. The Laserdisc was letterboxed, so the aspect ratio was closer to what I had seen in the theater. As I watched it, I suddenly found it to be interesting again and I made it through the entire film. The pan and scan composition on the BETA tape had actually altered the look of the film so much that it became boring to look at it. After that experience, I never wanted to watch a film in anything but its original aspect ratio.


It would be nice if Mr. Storaro would realize that whacking the sides off a film that he and Mr. Coppola originally composed for 2.35:1 is not an improvement if it is mainly done to fit some concept of a "golden ratio". However, judging by the letter he wrote, I think we are in no danger of him changing his mind when it comes to the aspect ratio of this film on home video.


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#3 of 20 OFFLINE   Brian Borst

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Posted May 12 2010 - 09:55 PM

I don't get it. He seems to be complaining about his movies getting panned and scanned to 1.78:1, or 1.33:1, and yet he goes on and does the same, albeit less drastic. He should be glad that the entire image can be visible in great quality. I assume that's really what a cinematographer wants, yet he chooses not to do it.

Not to mention the fact that The Last Supper has a ratio of 1.93, but if Storaro heard about that, he might cut it up even more. He's a brilliant cinematographer, but these sort of things I really don't understand.


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#4 of 20 OFFLINE   alexAN

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Posted May 12 2010 - 10:40 PM

Keep this quote in mind: "IT WAS LIKE CUTTING A PAINTING ACCORDING TO THE SIZE OF THE WALL WHERE IT WAS SUPPOSED TO BE DISPLAYED"


Now re-read the explanation on the choosing of the "golden ratio".


So...  I don't get it.  It seems Da Vinci was a HD guru.  Are we nuts???



#5 of 20 OFFLINE   AlenK

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Posted May 13 2010 - 12:58 AM

We're not nuts. Storaro is. Of course I don't mean that literally, but his nearly-all-caps, rambling justification for an arbitary 2:1 aspect ratio was annoying. What about those of us with large screen projection systems? Looks like Storaro doesn't think we will get the cinematic experience even on that kind of equipment. Bah.



#6 of 20 OFFLINE   MarkMel

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Posted May 13 2010 - 02:44 AM

Regarding the credits at the end, I was under the impression that the initial screening had no credits.  A booklet like a playbill was provided that had all the credits.  I even have one of these booklets.


Was this just for the premieres?


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#7 of 20 OFFLINE   Brian L

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Posted May 13 2010 - 02:48 AM

Has it been confirmed that Redux will be the only version of AN on BluRay???? From Mr. Storaro's comments, it sounds like that is all he worked on.


If so, that is a huge "No Sale" here.


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#8 of 20 ONLINE   Hollywoodaholic

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Posted May 13 2010 - 03:37 AM


Just for the premieres, or at least that was my experience when I originally saw it at the CineramaDome in Hollywood. I'm sure they didn't provide print credits for all subsequent showings.


I'm also not a big fan of the Redux with all the French plantation sidetrip padded back in. Why is it that original instincts of directors when cutting are usually better than when they are given way too much time to rethink the material? In the heat of the moment, they always make sure the primo stuff makes the cut. When they rethink, they second guess everything and fall in love with their own excesses (and non-essential sequences).

Originally Posted by MarkMel 

Regarding the credits at the end, I was under the impression that the initial screening had no credits.  A booklet like a playbill was provided that had all the credits.  I even have one of these booklets.


Was this just for the premieres?





#9 of 20 OFFLINE   David Wilkins

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Posted May 13 2010 - 03:41 AM



Originally Posted by MarkMel 

Regarding the credits at the end, I was under the impression that the initial screening had no credits.  A booklet like a playbill was provided that had all the credits.  I even have one of these booklets.


Was this just for the premieres?


I think you're right. All I remember is extended footage of explosions and fire from the final air-strike. That was at an original theatrical release in Memphis...certainly not a premiere.    


#10 of 20 OFFLINE   benbess

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Posted May 13 2010 - 03:43 AM



Originally Posted by David Wilkins 




I think you're right. All I remember is extended footage of explosions and fire from the final air-strike. That was at an original theatrical release in Memphis...certainly not a premiere.    


I think I like that ending a little better. What about you? Shallow of me, maybe, but it seems to fit better with the title...?



#11 of 20 OFFLINE   Stephen_J_H

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Posted May 13 2010 - 04:51 AM



Originally Posted by Hollywoodaholic 

Why is it that original instincts of directors when cutting are usually better than when they are given way too much time to rethink the material? In the heat of the moment, they always make sure the primo stuff makes the cut. When they rethink, they second guess everything and fall in love with their own excesses (and non-essential sequences).


 


I think you hit the nail on the head in answering your own question. It's easy to blame this all on CGI, but it's really a combination of technology generally and aging. GL and FFC fall into the trap of believing that if they were given the chance to revisit their material at a younger age with this technology, this is how they would have done it, thereby negating experience. Imagine, for example, if Spielberg decided to revisit Jaws and make the shark CG. Part of the happy accident that is Jaws is that Spielberg, as a young filmmaker, found ways to work around the problems on set, and by showing less of the shark than originally planned, the end result was a more intense film becuase the shark was left to the audience's imagination for the most part. Contrast that with the Jabba the Hutt scene in Star Wars. It was left on the cutting room floor because the special effects didn't work, and it's clear that the "Han shoots first" scene was an alternate scene that provides the same exposition, but since GL has fallen in love with technology, he fails to realise that it is merely a tool in the filmmaker's arsenal and therefore provides us with a spoon-fed version of the film in subsequent editions.


The same can be said of the plantation segment in Apocalypse Now. Does it help the narrative? Not really. Does it hurt it? no, but it does make the film drag. Common sense would suggest to get rid of it, but with modern editing technology and the advent of home video, directors are no longer constrained by how many shows an exhibitor can fit into a day, so we get gargantuan directors' cuts, some of which actually assist the narrative, and others that are merely demonstrations of the directors' hubris. Redux fits into the latter category.


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#12 of 20 OFFLINE   Worth

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Posted May 13 2010 - 05:19 AM

I believe the 70mm prints of Apocalypse ended with a fade to black without credits, while the 35mm prints had the air strike scene running over the credits.


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#13 of 20 ONLINE   Hollywoodaholic

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Posted May 13 2010 - 07:45 AM


Exactly. Of course the Redux was also 'packed' with more booty from the Playboy bunnies, which makes it har-, er, difficult to complain about. But it was still gratuitous, didn't advance anything and, since it was plugged prior to release, had a bit of shamelss commerce attached to it.

Originally Posted by Stephen_J_H 





The same can be said of the plantation segment in Apocalypse Now. Does it help the narrative? Not really. Does it hurt it? no, but it does make the film drag. Common sense would suggest to get rid of it, but with modern editing technology and the advent of home video, directors are no longer constrained by how many shows an exhibitor can fit into a day, so we get gargantuan directors' cuts, some of which actually assist the narrative, and others that are merely demonstrations of the directors' hubris. Redux fits into the latter category.





#14 of 20 OFFLINE   Brian Borst

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Posted May 14 2010 - 05:57 AM

Most of the scenes in the Redux version aren't bad scenes, but they hurt the 'flow' of the movie. I love the French plantation scene, as a standalone thing, but it simply doesn't fit into the movie where it is currently in the Redux version. As the boat gets closer to Kurtz, it gets progressively weirder, which gets to a screeching halt when they arrive at the plantation, to have a more or less regular dialogue scene. Coppola better give us the original version, otherwise I'm sticking to the DVD.


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#15 of 20 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted May 14 2010 - 07:05 AM

I don't know this for sure, but I believe it makes the most sense for the Blu-ray to incorporate both versions of the film like "The Complete Dossier", using the same branching we saw on Close Encounters Blu.   My instincts tell me the Blu-ray will likely just port over the Dossier release, but if we're lucky, perhaps Coppola will include more BTS footage.  For me, the "deleted scenes" section was a treasure trove of stuff - all of which was clearly not needed in the final film but which explained a lot for me.


As for Mr. Storaro's email, I think he made clear that in his opinion, a theatrical viewing experience and a home video viewing experience are different things for him and Coppola.  He says that he made a specific decision to go with 2:1, and while I would have preferred 2.35 (and I have kept my older DVDs of the film to preserve that aspect ratio), I can't argue with his reasoning.  Particularly after he has taken the time to describe the differences in aspect ratio between the 70mm and 35mm prints from the day.



#16 of 20 OFFLINE   cafink

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Posted May 14 2010 - 07:09 AM


Originally Posted by Kevin EK 

He says that he made a specific decision to go with 2:1, and while I would have preferred 2.35 (and I have kept my older DVDs of the film to preserve that aspect ratio),


I wasn't aware that any DVD release of the film preserved the 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  I know all three American releases (original, Redux, and Complete Dossier) were 2:1.  In which region is the 2.35:1 version available?


 

 


#17 of 20 OFFLINE   Kevin EK

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Posted May 14 2010 - 07:25 AM

I stand corrected.  I just went back to my 1999 DVD and checked it.  I had been laboring under the idea that it was in the 2.35:1 ratio, and I had even thought that it stated this on the back of the disc.  But it doesn't.  You're absolutely right about that.  I also just checked some analysis of the various versions, and you're correct that all of them were 2:1, as per Storaro and Coppola.


That said, I still hold to the rest of my comments about Mr. Storaro's feelings here.



#18 of 20 OFFLINE   benbess

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Posted May 14 2010 - 08:17 AM

I'll watch it on blu, and probably even buy it, whatever ratio they put it in.


But, that having been said, I think that more than most films this one really benefits from a pretty ultra wide screen format. It's supposed to be, I think, an overwhelming and disorienting journey that you take with Willard. It's literally too much to take in, and so the 2.35 format seems to make sense for it.


But 2:1 is still pretty wide. Wonder if they did good seps for the film...



#19 of 20 OFFLINE   Peter Neski

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Posted May 17 2010 - 09:03 AM

there arent any 2.35:1 versions out there,Storaro cropped the Laser disc and all versions,Unlike the Last Emperor

where you can get a Pal DVD of the 2.35:1 film



#20 of 20 OFFLINE   BobLAR

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Posted November 27 2010 - 07:17 AM

Question regarding the Apocalypse Now extras on disc 3.   Is there a way to zoom-in on the screenplay pages?  I find it difficult to read.  I tried hitting what appears to be the "middle" button on the navigation at the bottom, but nothing happens.  I am missing something?   Thanks.