Apocalypse Yet Again

Obviously taking the concept of a "director's cut" quite seriously, Francis Ford Coppola announced this week that he will soon be releasing a radically different version of his 1979 classic Apocalypse Now. The new version of the film will feature 53 minutes of new material and will debut at the upcoming Cannes Film Festival in France May 9–20.

Coppola says that he started with a blank slate when editing the new version, which now clocks in at three hours seventeen minutes, explaining that "we re-edited the film from the original unedited raw footage—the dailies. The themes emerge more clearly—the film is more bizarre, funnier, sexier, more romantic, and with more historical perspective.

"At the time we were editing Apocalypse Now, there was already from the critics . . . lots of speculation as to the viability of the picture, so we were defensive when we cut it and we wanted to prove the contrary. We did shorten it, and eliminate some of the more bizarre elements, in an effort to make the film acceptable to the audience at that time. Now that the film's been around awhile, it's something of a classic, so . . . we can edit it with more thinking about what the movie is and what the themes are."

Assisting Coppola for the new edit were Walter Murch, the original film's editor, and cinematographer Vittorio Storaro. The six-channel soundtrack has also been digitally remixed and remastered. The new version reputedly restores a French plantation scene cut from the original film and adds footage to the Playboy Playmates scene. It is also rumored to utilize more character development detail throughout the picture for both Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando.

Coppola says he is currently looking for a US distributor for what he terms the "definitive" version of the film, which is also being prepared for a DVD release later this year.