If it ain’t broke…
The trend of the director’s cut has long become a dubious exercise in profit-making. Hilariously, a quick Amazon search of ‘director’s cut’ reveals extended edits of such dizzying filmmaking classics as Troy, The Chronicles of Riddick, Daredevil and Welcome to the Jungle! And for the few good examples that I can think of (Bladerunner, of course, Betty Blue another) that really improve upon the original, there are others – this included – that add nothing. However, the remastered print – in no sorry state to begin with – is simply stunning. The richness of Vittorio Storaro’s Oscar-winning cinematography is what widescreen plasma televisions were made for.
Like the director’s cut of Donnie Darko, the additional scenes in Apocalypse Now redux only serve to dilute the overall vision with material best left on the cutting room floor. Not only do they serve to enhance the original’s more pretentious elements, but in some cases they simply feature characters acting completely out of character. The grinning buffoonery of Captain Willard and crew stealing one of Kilgore’s surfboards is in jarring contrast to all that viewers of the original will feel is the established relationship between the five men. Whereas the additional playboy bunny sequence adds to the overall hallucinatory, surreal nature of the plot, it feels cheap and superfluous.
The much-fabled French plantation scene is the real letdown, sumptously shot but catastrophically written. From the baggy, pretentious dialogue to the hammy accents and the mawkish (vomitous, even) muzak underscoring Willard’s brief love-interest, the sequence is a disaster. Not only is it a mess in its own right but it spoils the general flow and rythmn of the movie, and features such an inexplicably liberal application of dry ice that you might wonder if they had arrived in a Phil Collins video.
There are other additional scenes that are similarly unconvincing but overall I mustn’t understate what an incredible remastering job they have done for Redux. Hopefully they will re-release the original edit including this quality update. Viewers of ‘Hearts of Darkness’ will already know about the French plantation scene and other aspects of the film’s shoot that enrich the viewing experience far greater than Redux or any its paltry DVD extras. I recommend that you see that if you haven’t already, buy the original, and try to forget about the new scenes. Either that or do a home editing job yourself!
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