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Apocalypse now redux - Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Francis Ford Coppola

Threat advisory: High - High risk of entertaining activities

Movie propaganda

Apocalypse now redux tracks the journey of Captain Benjamin L Willard (Martin Sheen), a USA Army Intelligence Officer sent on a hazardous mission up river into Cambodia to terminate "with extreme prejudice" American renegade Colonel Walter E Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has spun out of control and out of his mind. Kurtz' massive, enigmatic, Buddha-like figure lords over a group of Montagnard tribesmen in a remote jungle compound replete with severed heads and hanging, rotting bodies.

Captain Willard's journey up river introduces him to Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall), who leads his squadron of helicopters into battle to the tune of Wagner's Die walkure and who commands a California surfing champion into the waves even as the enemy continues to shell the beach.

It also puts Willard on a Navy patrol boat with a crew of four men who serve as a microcosm of the American fighting force: the boat's African-American Chief Phillips (Albert Hall), a former taxi driver trying to keep his ship afloat and his young, drug-crazed charges in line; Jay "Chef" Hicks (Frederic Forrest), a New Orleans gourmet cook who joined the Navy because he thought they'd have better food than the Army; Tyrone "Clean" Miller (Laurence Fishburne), a black teenager from the Bronx; and Lance B Johnson (Sam Bottoms), a California surfer cast adrift by the war. As the boat makes its way deeper into Cambodia, it also seems to surge deeper and deeper into a realm of illusory truth and total madness... and into the darkest shadows of the human heart.

Theatrical propaganda posters

Apocalypse now redux image

Target demographic movie keyword propaganda

  • Film war drama Vietnam brown water navy patrol boat Heart of darkness

Persons of interest

  • Marlon Brando .... Colonel Walter E Kurtz
  • Martin Sheen .... Captain Benjamin L Willard
  • Robert Duvall .... Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore
  • Frederic Forrest .... Jay "Chef" Hicks
  • Sam Bottoms .... Lance B Johnson
  • Laurence Fishburne .... Tyrone "Clean" Miller
  • Dennis Hopper .... Photojournalist
  • Harrison Ford .... Colonel Lucas
  • Albert Hall .... Chief Phillips
  • GD Spradlin .... General Corman
  • Jerry Ziesmer .... Jerry
  • Scott Glenn .... Lieutenant Richard M Colby
  • Kerry Rossall .... Mike from San Diego
  • Cynthia Wood .... Playmate of the Year
  • Colleen Camp .... Miss May
  • Glenn Walken .... Lieutenant Carlsen
  • Herb Rice .... Roach
  • Michael Herr .... Narrator
  • Joseph Conrad .... Author: Heart of darkness
  • John Milius .... Screenwriter
  • Francis Ford Coppola .... Screenwriter
  • Francis Ford Coppola .... Director

Cinematic intelligence sources

  • Apocalypse now redux QuickTime movie trailers
  • Director's statement
  • FYI: "Redux" is Latin for "brought back"
  • Studios and distributors:

Intelligence analyst

Agent Derek Williamson

Theatrical report

If it is possible to tell a war story without glory and without heroes then Apocalypse now redux has done it. Rebuilt as an epic journey, the traveller moves through rather than in a surreal world of strong and deliberate characters. People surrounded by the Vietnam War, immersed in it but somehow removed from it. This war which involves them but only because they are there.

Visually artistic, everything is present for a purpose, moving from character to character, each a little more disturbed and disturbing than the last. these characters, steeped in other-worldliness make this an incredibly watchable story. Your companions - ignoring the narrator, who is no more than a guide - are the crew of the small patrol boat carrying us upriver. Changing with the river, confronted by the characters, sites and actions, they more and more become part of it all.

In the beginning, of the river and the movie, the military machine, flamboyant and large is glorious and victorious. Like demi-gods with no responsibility they celebrate and punish with equal clarity and omnipotence.

The further you travel the less clear, less glorious, less potent and less (or maybe more) human become the characters and the war alike, while the story becomes more vivid and darker. There is nothing light about this story from beginning to end. There is no mercy, no love. It is a graphic and long telling of a story you would hate to be true. But you won't notice the length, it's captivating, and the violence belongs to the story.

Security censorship classification

MA 15+ (War violence)

Surveillance time

196 minutes (3:16 hours)

Not for public release in Australia before date

Film: 15 November 2001

Cinema surveillance images

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Director's statement
When I started Apocalypse now, my intention was to create a broad, spectacular film of epic action-adventure scale that was also rich in theme and philosophic inquiry into the mythology of war.

But by the spring of 1979, we were terrified that the film was too long, too strange and didn't resolve itself in a kind of classic big battle at the end. We were threatened with financial disaster. I had mortgaged everything I owned to personally cover the $16 million overage. And the press kept asking, Apocalypse when? So we shaped the film that we thought would work for the mainstream audience of its day, keeping them focused on the journey up river and making it as much a war genre film as possible.

More than 20 years later, I happened to see the picture on television. What struck me was that the original film - which had been seen as so demanding, strange and adventurous when it first came out - now seemed relatively tame, as though the audience had caught up to it. This, coupled with calls I received over the years from people who had seen the original 4-hour plus assembly, encouraged me to go back and try a new version.

Over the course of six months, beginning in March 2000, we edited and remixed a new rendition of the movie from scratch. Rather than returning the lifts taken out of the film during the original editing, we re-edited the film from the original unedited raw footage-the dailies.

This time we weren't working out of anxiety, so we were able to think more about what the themes were, especially about issues related to morality in war. I feel any artist making a film about war by necessity will make an anti-war film and all war films are usually that. My film is more of an "anti-lie" film, in that the fact that a culture can lie about what's really going on in warfare, that people are being brutalised, tortured, maimed and killed, and somehow present this as moral is what horrifies me, and perpetuates the possibility of war. One line in John Milius' original script suggested this: "They teach the boys to drop fire on people but won't let them write the word 'Fuck' on their aeroplanes." In the words of Joseph Conrad: "I hate the stench of a lie."

This new, complete and definitive version extends this idea to all young people, boys and girls, who are sent out to function in an established immoral world expected to function in a moral way. The result is a film that has 49 minutes of never-before-seen footage, is more attentive to theme, and is sexier, funnier, more bizarre, more romantic and is more politically intriguing. The new material is spread throughout the film, and highlighted by the addition of the French plantation sequence, an expanded Playboy Playmates sequence, new footage of the Navy patrol boat near the start of its journey up river, and a new Brando scene - one that perhaps couldn't be shown twenty years ago as it provides clear facts as to how the American public was lied to.

Ultimately, my aim with Apocalypse now redux was to achieve a richer, fuller and more textured film experience that, as with the original, lets audiences feel what Vietnam was like: the immediacy, the insanity, the exhilaration, the horror, the sensuousness and the moral dilemma of America's most surreal and nightmarish war.

Francis ford Coppola

May 2001

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