Throwback Thursday: “Apocalypse Now” (1979) – part 1


APOCALYPSE NOW Redux poster (image source:

Full disclosure: this review is based on the “Redux” reissue version (2000) of Apocalypse Now, which includes scenes that were cut during editing of the 1979 original release and makes for a longer and more complex story line.  I have seen the movie, in both the original and “redux” versions, many times because my service in the U.S. Navy involved working closely with the Marine Corps and the Army (as well as the U.K.’s Royal Marines).  Due to this experience, I have practically memorized large portions of the dialogue.  Why? Because films about combat like Apocalypse Now — such as Full Metal Jacket (1987)Jarhead (2005), 300 (2006), Gladiator (2000), and even Team America: World Police (2004) — were hugely popular with my fellow active-duty military members at the time, despite the artistic and political intentions of their producers, directors, screenwriters, and actors. There is a similar phenomenon among investment bankers, brokers, and traders involving Wall Street (1987) and other movies like it, but we won’t go there at this time.



Directed by:  Francis Ford Coppola

Written by:  John Milius & Francis Ford Coppola; narration written by Michael Herr

Starring:  Martin SheenMarlon BrandoRobert Duvall (with supporting actors who became stars in their own right, such as Laurence Fishburne and Harrison Ford)

Apocalypse Now first ran in theaters when I was in high school (yes, I am THAT old). My American History teacher, who had a Ph.D. but couldn’t find a teaching job at a university, had been a junior Army officer (company grade) in Vietnam. My fellow students and I asked him if his experience was similar to that portrayed by Francis Ford Coppola. I assumed he would respond in the negative, but his reply surprised me.  He said something like this: “If my tour were compressed into a movie-length period of time, it would have been very similar.”

I wonder if he would have made the same statement if he had seen the uncut, “redux” version, which restores several subplots which were likely not within the common experience of American G.I.’s in Vietnam.

[to be continued in tomorrow’s post]