Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier

By  · Published on August 30th, 2006

Release Date: August 15, 2006

There is absolutely no denying that Francis Ford Coppola is one of the greatest directors of all time. I mean, he did make The Godfather, which is heralded by many as possibly the greatest film ever made. That would make it safe to say that he is pretty good. But after making The Godfather and The Godfather II, Coppola took 5 years off from directing to make another film. That film, in this critic’s opinion, would be his crowning achievement. That film was called Apocalypse Now.

Apocalypse Now is the story of rogue colonel Walter Kurtz, played by Marlin Brando, who has set himself up in the Cambodian jungle as a God among a local tribe and is a “threat” to the United States as they proceed with the war in Vietnam. The order to “Terminate with extreme prejudice” is given to Captain Willard, played by Martin Sheen, along with a small team of soldiers must travel up the Nung River to attempt to eliminate Kurtz.

The film itself is a splendid affair. It defined itself as a story about the Vietnam war, but it turned out to be so much more than that. It is a film that has left a permanent mark in the minds of film fans everywhere. Who can forget how Lt. Colonel Kilgore, played by Robert Duvall, loved “the smell of napalm in the morning”? Who can forget the dark, dangerous journey that the soldiers made into the heart of darkness.

On top of this masterful and obsessed work by Coppola in 1979, another, extended version of the film was released to DVD in 2001. Apocalypse Now: Redux was a digitally remastered version of the film that added 49 minutes of never before seen footage to tell more of the story. The Redux gave the film a much more enriched feel and really helped to put the ending in perspective. It is truly one of the only movies that I have ever seen that can keep be engrossed for a 202 min. run time, and that is saying a lot.

So it is safe to say that the Apocalypse Now pairing is one of the most prolific films of all time, and that every movie lover should not do with out owning both versions, right? That would be correct, and I am assuming that the studio thought so as well, as they have released The Complete Dossier. This version includes both films in their glory, both mastered in stunning 5.1 Dolby Digital Surround sound, and a boat load of extras.

And just to clarify, when I say “extras”, I mean that I never really got around to watching the film, as I was too engaged in the story around the film. There is audio commentary by Francis Ford Coppola, which could suffice as an entire course in film appreciation by itself; never-before-seen segments from the cutting room floor; an outtake of Marlon Brando’s reading of T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men”; and some great featurettes that tell the story of how Coppola’s film was more than just a production, it was an obsessed mission. But by far my favorite additional feature was the A/V Club presentations that took a look at a lot of the technical achievements of the film, most notably the sound. In the realm of sound, this film is second to none, and it was interesting to see how it all came about.

For those of us out there who love movies, there is no question that Apocalypse Now is a must have, that is certain. But if you have a deep affection for the craft of filmmaking as I do, this type of DVD is one that you can watch over and over again. Very few films have ever been given so much by their director, and very few DVDs will ever give such a close look at such a stunning achievement in film history.

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Neil Miller is the persistently-bearded Publisher of Film School Rejects, Nonfics, and One Perfect Shot. He's also the Executive Producer of the One Perfect Shot TV show (currently streaming on HBO Max) and the co-host of Trial By Content on The Ringer Podcast Network. He can be found on Twitter here: @rejects (He/Him)