There's 53 more minutes than in the original Apocalypse Now, though the flaws are also magnified. Francis Ford Coppola's guilty-liberal rethink of John Milius's right-wing update and transplanting of Joseph Conrad's “Heart of Darkness” to the war in Vietnam is above all an environmental experience, enhanced by what may still be Walter Murch's best sound editing and Michael Herr's best writing after Dispatches. Looking for a responsible or even coherent account of that war here would be barking up the wrong tree—and the best way of glossing over this embarrassing lack would probably be to pretend, as many Western viewers do anyway, that this movie has no Vietnamese spectators. Like so many of our overseas escapades, this is really about American braggadocio and insanity in an exotic locale, spiced with a time-capsule sense of 60s counterculture, swell atmospheric expressionist effects, and many interesting performances (by Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall, a teenage Laurence Fishburne, Sam Bottoms, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, and Dennis Hopper; a bald Marlon Brando is mainly used as a parade float). 203 min.
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