Apocalypse Now Redux

release year: 1979/2001
genre: war drama
viewing setting: home DVD, 1/25/13 and home laserdisc, late 1996

synopsis: During the Vietnam conflict, a young officer is sent deep into the jungle to find and kill an officer who's apparently gone insane.

impressions: It's a good movie, no doubting that. This is the 3+ hour version edited and re-released in 2001 and has some extra footage. The movie was atmospheric and grim at times (especially as it progressed) while almost a "normal" war drama at other times. The basic concept is based on Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness except it's put in the often-insane setting of the Vietnam war. There are two sides to the journey within this movie: the actual perilous physical journey with enemy forces often trying to kill you, and the descent into madness that tends to accompany the physical journey, examples of which include taking drugs, disobeying orders, and killing helpless people. It's easy to sympathize with the renegade colonel Kurtz, because he's figured it all out: the leaders in charge of the U.S. forces in Vietnam don't really want to do what it would take to win the war, they publicly condemn certain actions and tactics while privately ordering the same things and worse, and the average U.S. soldier isn't nearly as passionate and motivated (i.e. willing to do whatever it takes to win) as the average Vietnamese soldier. When you have a military superstar who has been in the trenches and knows what it would take to win the war, and you ignore him long enough, this is what happens...he goes rogue. All fo that is just my opinion, written down several hours after watching the movie. I don't want to delve into it any more than that - you need to see and judge it for yourself.

something this movie has that no other movie has: The actual butchering of a live water buffalo.

acting: Martin Sheen does a good job as a young soldier who's seen more than his years should allow. Marlon Brando's performance as the quarry, Colonel Kurtz, was less than stellar in my opinion; he had some good lines and all, but he also tended to mumble a lot. Robert Duvall also had an unforgettable, if minor, role. A very young and skinny Laurence Fishburne is one of the soldiers on the boat.

final word: Both tedious and powerful; either way, you really have to sit there and pay attention (as opposed to talking on the phone or something)

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