Sunday, January 11, 2009

# 1 All Time Favorite Film: Apocalypse Now Redux

With all critics, we have this one, special, film that we like above all others. Gene Siskel's favorite film was "Saturday Night Fever" Roger Ebert has indicated that his favorite film is "Citizen Kane" but he wrote about this film: "Longer or shorter, redux or not, Apocalypse Now is one of the central events of my life as a filmgoer." Mine is "Apocalypse Now Redux"

I first saw this film when I was 13 years old. It struck me as a film that I knew was great but it was hard to tell anyone in my school why it was good. To this day, I have never seen anything quite like it and I have never seen anything like it to this day.

I later learned that the film was heavily based on Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness. (it is a book about on man adventure into Africa, while looking for someone). This is also the film that introduced me to The Doors. Francis Ford Coppola, who attended the film school at UCLA with Morrison, released Apocalypse Now with "The End" used prominently in the sound track. Ever since I first hear that song, I have been a "Doors" fan.

I am such a fan of this movie that I have recently acquired a copy of the Extended bootleg version, a longer 289 minute version which circulates unofficially. It has never been officially released but circulates as a video bootleg, containing extra material not included in either the original theatrical release or the "redux" version.

From Wikipedia..In 2001, Coppola released Apocalypse Now Redux in cinemas and subsequently on DVD. This is an extended version that restores 49 minutes of scenes cut from the original film. Coppola has continued to circulate the original version as well: the two versions are packaged together in the Complete Dossier DVD, released on August 15, 2006.

The most significant footage added in the Redux version is an anticolonialism chapter involving the de Marais family's rubber plantation, a holdover from the colonization of French Indochina, featuring Coppola's two sons Giancarlo and Roman as children of the family. These scenes were removed from the 1979 cut, which premiered at Cannes. In the scenes, the French family patriarchs argue about the positive side of colonialism in Indochina and denounce the betrayal of the military men in the First Indochina War. Hubert de Marais argues that French politicians sacrificed entire battalions at Điện Biên Phủ, and tells Willard that the US created the Viet Cong (as the Viet Minh), to fend off Japanese invaders............

When I had the chance to see "Redux" at the theater, I took it and I once again realized that this film deserves to be seen on a huge screen.

With all film, their is one moment that makes a film from a good one into a great one and in some cases a legendary film. To me this films main scene is the attack on a village with Huey helicopters.

The scene is when Lt. Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall), the eccentric commander of 1/9cav AirCav, following a massive and hectic mopping-up operation of a conquered enemy village. Kilgore, a keen surfer, later, he learns from one of his men, Mike, that the beach down the coast which marks the opening to the river is perfect for surfing, a factor which persuades him to capture it. The problem is, his troops explain, it's "Charlie's point" and heavily fortified. Dismissing this complaint with the explanation that "Charlie don't surf,"

Kilgore orders his men to saddle up in the morning to capture the town and the beach. Riding high above the coast in a fleet of Hueys accompanied by H-6s, Kilgore launches an attack on the beach. The scene, famous for its use of Richard Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries," ends with the soldiers surfing the barely claimed beach amidst skirmishes between infantry and VC. After helicopters swoop over the village and demolish all visible signs of resistance, a giant napalm strike in the nearby jungle dramatically marks the climax of the battle. Kilgore exults to his men, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning", which he says smells "like...victory" as he recalls a battle in which a hill was bombarded with napalm for over twelve hours.

2005 AFI's 100 Years... 100 Movie Quotes:"I love the smell of napalm in the morning," #12.In a 2004 poll of UK film fans, Blockbuster listed Kilgore's eulogy to napalm as the best movie speech.The helicopter attack to the song of Ride of the Valkyries was chosen as the most memorable film scene ever by the Empire magazine.

I was so glad when I found out about this information. I was glad that others had seen exactly what I saw in this film.

To me it about war, redemption and overall the insanity of war and of life. If you like this type of film, then please see the "Redux" version on a big screen TV and enjoy it.

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