DVD REVIEW: Apocalypse Now

Movie ••••• Picture/Sound ••••½ Extras ••••½
It's hard to recall a special-edition DVD as perfectly tailored to the desires of fans as Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier. Included are the original 1979 film, the 2001 director's cut Apocalypse Now: Redux (which added 49 minutes of new footage), and almost 2 hours of filmed extras. Then there's the long-awaited, story-filled commentary from Francis Ford Coppola, for both the original version and the extended cut.

But it's quality, not quantity, that sets the Dossier apart. The extras repeatedly serve up new scenes and fascinating on-set footage in a thoughtful variety of settings and contexts. Material ranges from a full-length reading of T.S. Eliot's The Hollow Men by Marlon Brando (as Kurtz) to documentary segments delving into topics like the film's many innovations in multichannel sound. And 12 completely new scenes totaling 26 minutes are a treat for those of us who have been waiting for more than 25 years.

Just as important, the sharp and vivid images of the Redux DVD have finally been applied to the original cut. Color rendition appears most improved, with river and ocean waters ranging from sickly yellow to gorgeous aquamarine. Purists may object to the new 2.1:1 aspect ratio, which lops off a little information on each side of the 2.35:1 picture to better suit 16:9 TVs. But the result is a notable increase in resolution and detail, with more screen area in use, which is quite a thrill during familiar action sequences. [R] English, Dolby Digital 5.1; letterboxed (2.1:1) and anamorphic widescreen; two dual-layer discs.

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