DVDs: Apocalypse Now Redux

Movie DVD

In a word: Wow. Francis Ford Coppola's mesmerizing boat trip through the Vietnam War was already about 90% a masterpiece in 1979, but this new version - completely remixed and remastered, with nearly 49 minutes of additional footage - is richer and stranger in every way. The principal addition is a lengthy sequence at a French plantation, which moves the story out of Joseph Conrad territory and into a neighborhood a little closer to Henry James. It's ghostly (almost literally), and it has the effect of making Martin Sheen's journey seem even more hallucinatory, which is no mean feat.

Technically, everything here is equally astonishing. Picture and sound are noticeably better than on any of the laserdisc versions, even slightly better than the first DVD release. The famous helicopter-attack sequence scored to Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries" is now staggering in its realism; you can almost feel the bombs exploding. In short, a great movie has been made greater, and its DVD presentation is exemplary.

There aren't any extras to speak of, save for the theatrical trailer. A great double-disc set could have been made with Eleanor Coppola's feature-length making-of documentary, Hearts of Darkness. That aside, in the face of artistic and technical perfection like this, the usual sort of extras might very well have seemed superfluous.

English, Dolby Digital 5.1; letterboxed (2.1:1) and anamorphic widescreen; dual layer.

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