Stars: Sam Bottoms, Marlon Brando, Bo Byers, Colleen Camp, Robert Duvall
Genre: Drama, War
Rating: R (Restricted)
Runtime: 153 minutes
Digitally remastered with 49 minutes of previously unseen footage, Apocalypse Now Redux is the reference standard of Francis Coppola's 1979 epic. A metaphorical hallucination of the Vietnam War, the film was reconstructed by Coppola and editor Walter Murch to enrich themes and clarify the ending. On that basis Redux is a qualified success, more coherent than the original while inviting the same accusations of directorial excess. The restored "French plantation" sequence adds ghostly resonance to the war's absurdity, and Willard's theft of Colonel Kurtz's beloved surfboard adds welcomed humor to the film's nightmarish upriver journey. An encounter with Playboy Playmates seems superfluous compared to the enhanced interplay between Willard and his ill-fated boat crew, but compensation arrives in the hellish Kurtz compound, where Willard's mission--and the performances of Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando--reach even greater heights of insanity, thus validating Redux as the rightful heir to Coppola's triumphantly rampant ambition. --Jeff Shannon
I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies. I remember when I was with Special Forces. Seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate the children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for Polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried. I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn't know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought: My God... the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we. Because they could stand that these were not monsters. These were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment. Because it's judgment that defeats us.
Could we, uh, talk to Colonel Kurtz?
Hey, man, you don't talk to the Colonel. You listen to him. The man's enlarged my mind. He's a poet-warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he'll, uh, well, you'll say hello to him, right? And he'll just walk right by you, and he won't even notice you. And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corner, and he'll say do you know that if is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you - I mean I'm no, I can't - I'm a little man, I'm a little man, he's, he's a great man. I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas...
I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn't even know it yet. Weeks away and hundreds of miles up a river that snaked through the war like a main circuit cable - plugged straight into Kurtz. It was no accident that I got to be the caretaker of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz's memory - any more than being back in Saigon was an accident. There is no way to tell his story without telling my own. And if his story really is a confession, then so is mine.
How many people had I already killed? There was those six that I know about for sure. Close enough to blow their last breath in my face. But this time it was an American and an officer. That wasn't supposed to make any difference to me, but it did. Shit... charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500. I took the mission. What the hell else was I gonna do?
The machinist, the one they called Chef, was from New Orleans. He was wrapped too tight for Vietnam, probably wrapped too tight for New Orleans. Lance on the forward 50's was a famous surfer from the beaches south of LA. You look at him and you wouldn't believe he ever fired a weapon in his whole life. Clean, Mr. Clean, was from some South Bronx shithole. Light and space of Vietnam really put the zap on his head. Then there was Phillips, the Chief. It might have been my mission, but it sure as shit was Chief's boat.
One through nine, no maybes, no supposes, no fractions. You can't travel in space, you can't go out into space, you know, without, like, you know, uh, with fractions - what are you going to land on - one-quarter, three-eighths? What are you going to do when you go from here to Venus or something? That's dialectic physics.
Your mission is to proceed up the Nung River in a Navy patrol boat. Pick up Colonel Kurtz's path at Nu Mung Ba, follow it and learn what you can along the way. When you find the Colonel, infiltrate his team by whatever means available and terminate the Colonel's command.
Terminate the Colonel.
He's out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field commanding troops.
Terminate with extreme prejudice.
You understand Captain that this mission does not exist, nor will it ever exist.
You smell that? Do you smell that?... Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like... victory. Someday this war's gonna end...
Did they say why, Willard, why they want to terminate my command?
I was sent on a classified mission, sir.
It's no longer classified, is it? Did they tell you?
They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.
Are my methods unsound?
I don't see any method at all, sir.
I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin?
I'm a soldier.
You're neither. You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.
On the river, I thought that the minute I looked at him, I'd know what to do, but it didn't happen. I was in there with him for days, not under guard, I was free, but he knew I wasn't going anywhere. He knew more about what I was going to do than I did. If the Generals back in Nha Trang could see what I saw, would they still want me to kill him? More than ever probably. And what would his people back home want if they ever learned just how far from them he'd really gone? He broke from them, and then he broke from himself. I'd never seen a man so broken up and ripped apart.
I worry that my son might not understand what I've tried to be. And if I were to be killed, Willard, I would want someone to go to my home and tell my son everything. Everything I did, everything you saw, because there's nothing that I detest more than the stench of lies. And if you understand me Willard, you will do this for me.
Everybody wanted me to do it, him most of all. I felt like he was up there, waiting for me to take the pain away. He just wanted to go out like a soldier, standing up, not like some poor, wasted, rag-assed renegade. Even the jungle wanted him dead, and that's who he really took his orders from anyway.
My mission is to make it up into Cambodia. There's a Green Beret Colonel up there who's gone insane. I'm supposed to kill him.
That's typical. Shit. Fuckin' Vietnam mission. I'm short and we gotta go up there so you can kill one of our own guys? That's f***in' great! That's just f***in' great. Shit. That's f***in' crazy. I thought you were going in there to blow up a bridge, or some f***ing railroad tracks or somethin'.