Magazine article American Cinematographer

Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier

Magazine article American Cinematographer

Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier

Article excerpt

Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier (1979/2001) 2.0:1 (16x9 Enhanced) Dolby Digital 5.1 Paramount Home Entertainment, $19.99

"Your mission is to proceed up the Nung River in a Navy patrol boat, pick up Colonel Kurtz's path at Nu Mung Bha, follow it, learn what you can along the way. When you find the colonel, infiltrate his team by whatever means available, and terminate the colonel's command." This mission, which officially "does not exist," is given to U.S. Army Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) at the outset of Apocalypse Now, and takes him and his small crew deep into the most dangerous areas of Vietnam, and then into Cambodia, at the peak of the Vietnam War. Military intelligence believes Kurtz (Marion Brando) has suffered a severe mental breakdown and is holed up with an army of indigenous supporters just across the border.

Using America's most divisive war as its lurid, sensual backdrop, Francis Ford Coppola's ambitious and uniquely impressive motion picture is a vividly mounted, often hypnotic adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness. A surreal, stylized and occasionally psychedelic depiction of the struggle between good and evil, the picture is a milestone in contemporary American cinema.

Released in 1979, Apocalypse Now generated fervor because of its lengthy, tumultuous and highly publicized production, but it eventually earned equal acclaim for its dazzling sensory impact on audiences. The picture's undeniable power lies in its meticulously designed, experiential atmosphere. Walter Murch's groundbreaking sound work and Dean Tavoularis' production design are high on the list of the picture's achievements, but the true signature of this epic motion picture is the luminous visual style crafted by Vittorio Storaro ASC, AIC, who was collaborating with Coppola for the first time. Storaro boldly photographed the picture in the Technovision anamorphic process, composing widescreen panoramas with a highly saturated color palette and a full range of black levels that consistently met the needs of the film's dark, brooding narrative. The cinematographer won a richly deserved Academy Award for his efforts, and his working relationship with Coppola was so successful that the two artists have since reteamed three times (on One from the Heart, Tucker ana New York Stories).

Most recently, Coppola and Storaro joined forces to revisit Apocalypse Now, remastering a new, longer cut of the film in Technicolor's briefly revived dye-transfer printing process. This version of the picture, Apocalypse NowRedux, was theatrically released in 2001. …

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