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Category:    Home > Reviews > War > Drama > Vietnam > Comedy > Literature > Large Frame Format > Apocalypse Now – Full Disclosure Blu-ray Set (1979/American Zoetrope/Paramount/UA/Lionsgate)

Apocalypse Now – Full Disclosure Blu-ray Set (1979/American Zoetrope/Paramount/UA/Lionsgate)


Picture: A-     Sound: A-     Extras: A-     Film: A- (2001 Redux cut)/B+ (1979 cut)



After a long wait, one some might have expected to take longer, Francis Coppola has delivered a new High Definition upgrade to his masterwork Apocalypse Now (1979) on Blu-ray.  It is a pleasant surprise not only that it has arrived when we need as many good back catalog titles in the format, but in a new Full Disclosure edition that adds even more extras.  You can read about the film in our coverage of the Complete Dossier edition at this link:





That will tell you just about every basic thing you need to know about the film, its history and historical context.  The question then was, could the new transfer do justice to the film, especially since Director of Photography Vittorio Storaro (A.S.C., A.C.S.) had restored it back in 2001 and took advantage of Technicolor’s too-short-lived revival of their three-strip, dye-transfer, classic Technicolor process?  Well, the new restoration team used that type of print and more to clean and fix the film for this release, a film that originally saw 70mm blow-up prints because of the big-screen way he and Coppola shot it.


They also moved to the 35mm aspect ratio of 2.35 X 1 versus the 2 X 1 framing Storaro preferred for home theater presentations.  The resulting 1080p 2.35 X 1 scope digital High Definition image is stunning! 


Color is rich and grain is limited.  Any damage is very minor and the warmth and fullness of each scene is as engrossing as it ever was.  This is so close to the actual Technicolor print of Redux I saw back in 2001 that one forgets that they are watching an HDTV or HD projector in action.  Thanks to seamless branching, the shorter theatrical version gets to enjoy all the upgrades.  Outside of a good 70mm or 35mm print, this is the best way to see the film.


Then there is the sound, originally the first full 5.1 sound movie (after some others just before it offered experimental moments) in a mix then offered exclusively on 70mm prints.  The DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 mix surpasses the DVD’s rare, exceptional Dolby Digital 5.1 mix with a whole new level of fullness, soundfield power and this was so well recorded that it is like hearing a classic Rock album in the Super Audio CD format.  Note that the center channel is dead center to the point that you can set a home theater system to it, it remains one of the greatest multi-channel sound motion pictures ever made and this DTS-MA mix reasserts its importance with the older audio sources showing very little of their original age.


The combination alone makes this a must-own Blu-ray release.  But then there are all those extras, which include the excellent Hearts Of Darkness – A Filmmakers Apocalypse, which has been restored for this release from the original 16mm film.  You can read all about it in our DVD coverage at this link:





Extras from the previous Complete Dossier edition of the film includes another terrific audio commentary by Coppola and visual markers for the Redux scenes on both discs, Brando (from 1979) reading T.S. Elliot’s Hollow Man, 12 additional scenes not used in either version, the separate Monkey Sampan scene and a four-part A/V Club Featurette including a text essay by synthesizer inventor Bob Moog (see the Moog documentary reviewed elsewhere on this site), 6-min Birth Of 5.1 Sound segment, a Technical FAQ (frequently asked questions) section and a great demo of the opening of the film which shows sound bars to demonstrate the opening of the helicopter fly-over effect, 4 minute segments on the PBR boat actors reuniting for the Redux theatrical release, a “Then & Now” segment of Coppola at Cannes 2001 with Redux and a great piece on the three-strip Technicolor printing process with Storaro.  Also, a four-part post-production piece in included on editing, music, sound design and The Final Mix on the film.


New extras shot in HD include three separate on-camera interviews with John Milius, Martin Sheen and Fred Roos: Casting Apocalypse that includes audition footage.  Also wisely included is the Orson Welles radio version of Conrad’s Heart Of Darkness.  Welles and Coppola are often compared and Welles was developing a feature film version that never was filmed, though this was recorded and broadcast just after his War of The Worlds broadcast shook the country up.  Other goodies on the final Blu-ray include storyboards, photos, Milius’ choice script sections with notes by Coppola and an extensive archive on the marketing of the film.


This is a great way to launch what is supposed to be the beginning of Coppola releasing key back catalog titles on Blu-ray with Lionsgate, which would include titles he has with Paramount (The Conversation, Tucker, The Rainmaker) and his own holdings (likely One From The Heart among possible others).  If they are all this good, it could set a new high bar for director’s works on Blu-ray.  In the meantime, Apocalypse Now – The Full Disclosure Edition is a must-own for any serious Blu-ray collection.



-   Nicholas Sheffo


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