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Great War Movies: 'APOCALYPSE NOW' (Vietnam)

Perhaps the best war film ever made. A grim depiction of the reality of the Vietnam War and how it brutalised American soldiers fighting for a lost cause.

It is the height of the war in Vietnam, and U.S. Army Captain Willard is sent by Colonel Lucas and a General to carry out a mission that, officially, 'does not exist - nor will it ever exist'. The mission: To seek out a mysterious Green Beret Colonel, Walter Kurtz, whose army has crossed the border into Cambodia and is conducting hit-and-run missions against the Viet Cong and NVA. The army believes Kurtz has gone completely insane and Willard's job is to eliminate him!


Simultaneously brilliant and bizarre, Francis Ford Coppola's sprawling, Vietnam-era adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness -- having enthralled some viewers while befuddling others -- henceforth will occupy a loftier position in the director's oeuvre. This fanciful, extravagantly produced excoriation of US involvement in the Vietnam war is finally in the form Coppola originally intended with the addition of heretofore unseen sequences that bring the total running time to well over three hours. 

Redux, however, doesn't alter the story's basic structure: Army assassin Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) leads a Navy patrol boat upriver, penetrating deep into Cambodia to locate the village sanctuary of rogue colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) -- a war-maddened megalomaniac whom Willard has been ordered to terminate with extreme prejudice. The newly restored sequences include a lengthy stopover with French plantation owners who cling futilely to their decadent, aristocratic lifestyle in the face of chaos and carnage; and a darkly humorous dalliance with visiting Playboy Playmates, who offer to trade sex for the gasoline needed to fuel their downed helicopter. 
Coppola also reorders some scenes and adds snippets to others, ultimately transforming Apocalypse into a more cohesive, dramatically satisfying film. Still episodic and unevenly paced, with the same odd juxtaposition of hyper-realistic action and surreal symbolism, this revised edition nonetheless has a depth and texture the familiar version lacked. 

A masterful achievement, overshadowed only by Coppola's first two Godfather films, Apocalypse Now Redux finally restores the luster to this formidable director's tarnished reputation. It's a film no serious movie fan should be without.


Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, M. Brando


Greatest War Movies


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China after Deng's reform gave the chance to get rich but power is in the hands of an elite; the Communist Party of China. Membership to the party is at the whims of the local party bosses. This leaves out many people who crave political power dissatisfied and disgruntled. There in lies the roots of instability. The Party suppressed these demands once at Tiananmen in 1989. But force is hardly the way to deal with things like these.

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