Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier Francis Ford Coppola

Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier Francis Ford Coppola
Marketing hyperbole aside, this is now the third DVD issuing of Francis Ford Coppola’s legendary masterpiece, Apocalypse Now, and The Complete Dossier is just as notable for what it lacks as what it contains. Hearts of Darkness, the equally infamous, compelling, "disasters, breakdowns, ‘we are so doomed’ and all” documentary shot by wife Eleanor is again M.I.A. While rumours of rights issues continue to circulate as explanation, since Paramount owns Hearts, this seems a stretch. A better hypothesis might be that while nearly three decades after the fact, Francis may finally be ready to talk about his experiences and memories making the greatest "war” film of all time, which is actually not about war, it’s on his terms, with no one to contradict his recollections or offer another voice. There’s absolutely nothing from screenplay writer/legendary eccentric John Milius (who, lest we forget, wrote Quint’s "U.S.S. Indianapolis” monologue in Jaws and coined the Dirty Harry gem, "Go ahead, make my day”), as well there’s no commentary from any of the actors, although there is a brief "reunion” featurette with the sailors of PBR Street Gang that’s pretty much all gush. Granted, Francis gives great commentary (as anyone familiar with The Godfather DVDs can attest) and he doesn’t shy away from discussing the disasters that befell the production (the millions over-budget, the typhoons that destroyed his expensive sets, the helicopters being ordered away mid-shoots by the Philippine army, etc.) but these are now merely anecdotal asides he recounts almost fondly, while certain notorious moments he either barely mentions or eschews (Martin Sheen’s heart attack, for instance). But what The Complete Dossier does contain are both versions of Coppola’s classic, the original and the "now even longer” Redux (complete with the laboured French plantation scene, as well as more of Kurtz and the Playboy bunnies). And unquestionably, Apocalypse Now remains a surrealistic descent into the madness of men contrasted against the backdrop of the Vietnam War. The roles are legendary: Martin Sheen’s Captain Willard ordered to assassinate Marlon Brando’s renegade, messianic Colonel Kurtz; Harrison Ford’s nervous intelligence officer cameo; Denis Hopper’s speed-driven hippy photographer; a 14-year-old Laurence Fishburne playing 17; Robert Duvall’s brazen Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore; and the movie is unquestionably a timeless piece of filmmaking. But, while Coppola seems to want to view his arduous past with Hannibal-esque, "I love it when a plan comes together” glasses, Apocalypse Now is a serendipitous result of a confluence of near-disastrous events, not the result of a master plan, which makes it an even more remarkable achievement. Francis would do well to remember that. Plus: featurettes; deleted scenes; more. (Paramount)