Francis Ford Coppola's mega work that had used up 31.5 million Dollars and 100 pounds of Coppola's body weight has been cut for almost one and a half years after the shooting was finished by editor Walter Murch. The first cut, the one which contains Coppola's entire virtuosity, ran 5 1/2 hours. Even the cut that was shown in Cannes wasn't the final one as well. When it was firstly shown in European cinemas in 1979 "Apocalypse Now" had, in its regular version, a runtime of about 147 minutes PAL. There was a difference of about six minutes due to different ending credits. More about that in the cut report. Coppola was never truly satisfied with the common version of "Apocalypse Now". There were many scenes he wanted to show the public, scenes that would make his vision complete.
On the 11th of May 2001, "Apocalypse Now - Redux" finally was premiered in Cannes. The there presented, alternative version is Coppola's approved Director's Cut. The "Redux" version was rearranged and the presentation changed in the first hour, whereas in the last part only big scenes had been implemented. One of those being the often discussed plantation-scene showing Willard meeting french colonists. All in all, the "Redux"-version can be considered the whole truth. Whereas the regular version of "Apocalypse Now" might seem much more paranoid and lunatic, Coppola mainly implemented scenes emphasizing the soldiers' humanity. Even crazy Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall) gets scenes - short ones, granted - slightly unveiling his human nature. The "Redux"-version is undoubtably the better one - up until the above mentioned scene.
This, without a doubt, brilliantly inscenated sequence is, unfortunately, a pretty obvious cut scene for a reason: pace. The idyllic seeming scene doesn't quite fit into the scared mood we have in this part of the movie. You might see it as a bizarre feverish dream, the silence before the storm or the last meal - in the context, the scene surely is legitimate and fascinating - but for the audience it will be a damper on the atmosphere and the pace.
For this cut report, the German BMG/UfA-DVD of the "Redux"-cut has been compared to the Paramount tape that contains the original version. 23 cuts respectively changes had been found.
Runtime normal version: 147:38
Runtime Redux: 193:59
Thus, the versions overall differ in 46 minutes and 38 seconds
In the regular version, before the movie begins, you see the Paramount-logo for 25 seconds ( -25 seconds )
The first change in the Redux-version has been made to evade connection-errors. The happy radio music from the normal cut has been removed, now there is a dramatic score.( no time difference )
Here, a scene has been rearranged. In the Redux-Version, we see Willard looking at the files about Colonel Kurtz and studying them. In the normal version, there had been scenes of happy partymood on the deck implemented. This 99 seconds lasting scene is, in the Redux-version, shown at0:71:52. That way, neither the eerie mood the mysterious files of Kurtz create gets destroyed and a connection-error has been removed. In the regular version, Lance mysteriously swaps places withing few minutes: First, he's shown water-sliding and only a few moments later lying bored on deck getting a suntan. ( No time difference )
Colonel Kilgore's arrival is the first complete scene that was not shown in the regular version: In the normal cut, there is a trackshot of Willard, asking one of Kilgore's soldiers where the commanding officer was. The soldier points somewhere and says: "Over there". In the Redux-version, there is this short sequence shot with a hand-held camera. Also, Willard and the soldier are much further away from us (quite possibly a B-Roll-Shot). The soldier doesn't answer with "over there" any morebut says that the Colonel was on his arrival.
Now the first implemented scene: Kilgore gets dropped off from the helicopter. A typical Kilgore-appearence takes place. Megalomaniacally, he orders his men to bomb away trees since he needs air to breathe. Then Kilgore walks a few steps. Willard follows him. As soon as Willard enters the picture from the left, the normal version continues. Why this scene is missing in the normal cut is hard to understand. The first appearing of Robert Duvall's character Bill Kilgore is now much more mythical.( 59 seconds )
Kilgore quickly investigates the base hospital and, shaking his head, looks to a bed on which a blood-splattered baby lies. He steps out of the frame, the camera sways to stacked body bags.( 11 seconds )
After the short take of the fighting jets (jet pilots), the Redux version shows a Vietnamese woman with a baby in her arm running towards Kilgore. She is being accompanied by an armed soldier. Kilgore immediately orders the soldier to put down his gun, takes the obviously injured baby, and reasons with it.( 15 seconds )
After the jet pilots have made an arrangement a second time per radio, we see Kilgore giving the injured Vietnamese baby to two of his men. One soldier wants to restrain the protesting mother, but Kilgore goes in between them, insisting on the mother joining the baby. The final three cut scenes that the normal version misses are probably the only scenes showing Kilgores human, less lunatic side.( 12 seconds )
The fighting jets form. This scene is shown later in the normal cut. ( no time difference )
Kilgore grabs his hat for a short time, since a helicopter is landing. In the normal version, he already has the hands on his hat as the scene begins. ( 2 seconds )
As a reward, Kilgore gives Lance air-cavallery-shorts, since he wants to go surfing with the Colonel and his men in a few minutes. Then we see Kilgore's men already surf and a grenade exploding very close to them in the water. ( 13 Seconds )
Now the forming of the fighting jets is shown in the normal cut. This scene was in the Redux-version at 0:46:20.( no time difference )
Kilgore spreads his arms and walks a few steps towards the sea. Surprised, he notes that, because of the napalm, the wind is blowing towards the shore. Due to this, surfing is not possible any more for Lance and Kilgore. Willard takes this opportunity to explain to Kilgore that Lance cannot wait for better wheather any more, and that they need to depart now. Kilgore desperately tries to convince Lance to stay. He even screams at them, using the megaphone, that 20 minutes later, the waves were going to be higher again. In the meantime, Willard asks Lance if they want to get away now or if he wanted to say goodbye to Kilgore. Lance says no and the two run to the already ready-made boat. Now, we see Kilgore again, furiously throwing his megaphone in the air. While Lance gets on board, Willard runs back to the helicopter of the Colonel, grabs Kilgore's surf board and runs back to the boat. Willard can save himself together with the board in the boat, though followed by three of Kilgore's soldiers. The boat disappears, Willard finally has time to breathe through.( 113 Seconds )
Chief continues his Raquel-Welch-fantasy a little. Then Colonel Kilgore flies in his helicopter over the, below giant trees hidden, boat. Per megaphone, he begs for the return of his surf board. But the hidden "thieves" only laugh gleefully and then salute to the fanatic Colonel. After he's gone out of sight, the men talk about Kilgore. They besiege the surf board and joke a little then. The chief asks how far they would go up the river and if it would become dangerous. This dialog emphasizes that Willard is looking for danger and that he's not as keen on going home as his men. This entire scene isn't contained in the normal cut. ( 141 Seconds = 2 Min. 21 Sec. )
Then, chief says he wanted to go pick up mangos. In the Redux-Version, during this short scene, we completely stay on Willard's face, whereas in the normal cut it's arranged differently: The camera shows lying chief who first asks Willard for permission to go and pick up mangos. Willard says that you can only go into the jungle if you know your way around. During this short dialog, Coppola edits to a short take showing Clean standing at the cannon. Then Lance asks whether there were any poisonous snakes nearby. Finally, chief decides he is going to get mangos now - Willard follows him without saying a word. So whereas the entire Redux-Version is going on pretty simple, the normal version is dark and inapproachable, even during these short dialogs. Especially this small scene with the nice hideout is one of the very few that shows true humanity among the men. The Redux-Version of this short scene is going on for just seven seconds whereas in the normal cut it's exactly twenty seconds long.( -13 Seconds )
In the Redux-Cut we can see for four seconds the wasted stage being tidied and cleaned up whereas in the normal version there is only a picture of Willard. ( no difference )
While sound and content are identical in both versions here, only in the Redux-Cut Chief is shown on board playing around with his Playboy magazine (which introducts the next scene that is only contained in the Redux-Version). The normal version has a take of Willard's face for fourteen seconds here. ( no difference )
Chef reports about his Playboy-collector's passion. Then Clean tells a story about a US-Sergeant who had killed an Asian because of a Playboy.( 112 Seconds )
Here, the scene that is shown in the normal version at 0:21:31 takes place: Willard looks through files, Clean dances on the deck to the sound of the Rolling Stones, Lance is water sliding. This scene is 99 seconds long.( no difference )
Willard is reading in an essay by Kurtz for a short time.( 33 Seconds )
The boat is coming to another US-outpost. The camp is completely wildered and run down. Willard is asking some bypassing officers for the commanding officer. He seems to be dead for months now, nobody knows who really is in charge. While there are first tensions growing inside Willard's troop and a fight starts, Willard notices the helicopter with the "Playboy"-logo. In return for some gasoline, Willard arranges two hours with the playmates. Only Chief thankfully rejects and waits on the boat while the others entertain themselves with the "Playboy-Bunnies". Chief gets Miss May, who he, with the help of a black wig, transforms into his beloved Miss December. Miss May, like hypnotized, talks about her days as a bird trainer in Bush Gardens, while Chief transforms her into a lookalike of the "December"-centerfold. When they finally kiss, Miss May is being excited about the fact Chief kisses like a bird. Lance takes care of the playmate of the year in an abandoned house. This playmate does not stop reciting a seemingly memorzied biography of herself as if she was in a trance. She talks about the obstacles and throw-backs she had to remove as playmate of the year. When they get closer, the playmate accidently opens a chest containing a dead Vietnamese. Then later, Chief twits Clean for obviously still being a virgin. The argument seemlessly blends to the normal version, but there, it's not clear the men make fun of Clean's virginity. The entire scene with the playmates is a pretty confusing, almost bizarre scene which, again, expresses the pure, inhuman insanity. But this time the insanity outside of Vietnam. This time it's the decadent America that seems to be crazy.( 547 seconds = 9 Min. 7 Sec.)
On the boat, Willard asks for binoculars. They get closer to a facility on shore they hadn't expected. The boat stops, the men hear french calls. Chief can answer in french and shouts that they are American friends. As the fog clears, several armed men appear. Their leader Hubert de Marais invites the Americans to dine and also prepares Clean's funeral. Clean is being buried together with the cassette recorder his mother had sent to him. Even during the funeral, Willard notices a woman at the property. During the diner, de Marais reports about this plantation and that it's being held by his family for 70 years now. De Marais makes crazy theories about the vietnam war, the colonization of Indochina and communism. Willard listens to all of that, but he is more interested in the daughter of the de Marais', Mme Sarrault. After all have left the table with patriotic words on their lips, only Willard and Mme Sarrault stay. Mme Sarrault offers Willard a Cognac. They drink on a beautiful balcony and talk to each other. Finally, they land in Sarrault's bed where she tells about her dead husband. She lights a morphium-pipe for him, gets out of the bed, takes her clothes off and prepares the canopy bed. The scene is being faded out on white fog. This longest extension in the Redux-Version is probably also the most controverse. The boring discussion at the dining table drags the audience immediately out of the sinister atmosphere that gets built up by the presentiment, that Kurtz is close, into a realistic, civilized ambiente. Probably, Coppola wanted to inscene a surreally seeming silence before the storm. Because from now on it's going down to the insanity of Colonel Kurtz.( 1422 Seconds = 23 Min. 42 Sec. )
Surroundend by children, Kurtz visits subterraneously imprisoned Willard and reads Vietnam-reports from the Time Magazine loudly. He asks him a few questions about this, Willard remains silent all the time. Finally Kurtz says Willard could move on freely from now on, but under surveillance. Kurtz leaves Willard, who toils out of his prison then. This is probably the only scene (not) showing Kurtz' face not broken by shadows.( 317 Seconds = 5 Min 17 Sec. )
The credits are equally long in both versions (6:16). The music is identical, too. The Redux-Version has the entire writing in the middle, whereas the normal version swaps between left- and right-justified. Of course, in the Redux-Version, more people are shown, because for the restauration and the recutting of the scenes new people had to be employed. The normal version ends with the known Paramount-logo, whereas the Redux-Version ends with a Miramax-sign.( no difference )
About the alternative credits:
The normal version has three different ending credits. The most commonly used, and by the director approved one, is the one mentioned above, with white text on black background. This version was used in all the newer 70mm-copies. Older 70mm-tapes only had a short copyright-notice as credits (through this version, many wrong runtimes had gone public). The rare 35mm version includes credits set over apocalyptic scenes of the air strike on Kurtz' fortress. This surrealistic version though is not the version Coppola wanted, so in the Redux-cut, the simple Black/White-credits are shown.