No war has focused the minds of American film-makers quite like Vietnam. It’s a conflict which split American society; polarising a nation. Given the controversy surrounding events within the region, it’s a subject which has produced some of the greatest modern war films. Including the likes of Jacob’s Ladder, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and Hamburger Hill. The ‘daddy’ is obviously Francis Ford Coppola’s magnum opus which receives a fresh makeover in Apocalypse Now: Final Cut.
With the military hierarchy increasingly concerned about a rogue Colonel, Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen) is given a mission to terminate him. Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) has taken up residence in a Cambodian outpost. His men worship him as a demigod and he has taken matters into his own hands, ignoring orders from above. He joins a riverboat team and heads upriver for a journey which will change his life.
Final Cut is the third official version of the film which has been released. Whilst the original theatrical version was cut to appease studio heads, Redux put everything, including the kitchen sink, back in. The latest version is Coppola’s baby. He’s decided what makes the grade and what doesn’t. As far as I’m concerned, it’s the best version of the film. The most coherent.
Restored in 4k, Apocalypse Now: Final Cut looks better than ever before. Whilst the story itself fits together more comfortably, aesthetically it’s even more striking. It’s a testament to Coppola’s vision and Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography that it’s probably the most beautiful film you’ll see all year. There are so many layers to the film but at its heart it’s a self-journey. A rumination on the basic essence of humanity. Apocalypse Now: Final Cut is a masterpiece.
Apocalypse Now: Final Cut is released on 4K Ultra HD & Blu-ray Edition by Studiocanal on 16 September.