Comparison between the Final Cut and the Redux Version (both included on the American 4K-Blu-ray/BD set by Lionsgate // identical in frame to the German 4K-Blu-ray/BD set by StudioCanal)
The different versions of APOCALYPSE NOW
The story of Apocalypse Now begins with a 289-minute workprint version of the film, which was released on VHS a long time ago but never officially released. It was made before the Cannes premiere in 1979. There Coppola showed a shorter "Work in Progress" version of the film, which lasted about 3 hours and won the Palme d’Or, the highest award of the film festival. Afterwards the director shortened the film by many scenes and so in autumn 1979 the official theatrical version came to the cinemas with only about 147 minutes running time.
But there were also differences in the credits. There is a version without credits in the early 70mm version and only with a copyright notice. For the 35mm version there were real credits, which were placed over shots of explosions and burning jungle. But when Coppola found out that moviegoers thought that Willard had arranged an air raid on Kurtz's base in the jungle because of the scenes, he changed the credits and only classic white text on a black background could be seen.
In 2001, the so-called Redux version celebrated its premiere in Cannes. The film reached a running time of 196 minutes (this time again without credits) and is even longer than the first Cannes version. Even though Coppola has had the final cut for his films since The Godfather (1971), i.e. in principle he can bring the version to the cinemas he wants, he always tried to take suggestions from the studio, the financiers and foreign distributors into consideration. And what these parties often didn't like? A film with an overly long runtime. This often diminished the success at the box office.
That's why the director of Apocalypse Now himself cut back in 1979, but a little more than he actually thought was optimal. Coppola also realized that the film wasn't necessarily mainstream and removed scenes for the theatrical version at the time that seemed a bit stranger to a "normal" audience. But cinema and the audience develop further and with time crazy ideas become normality. That's why Coppola later re-inserted most of the scenes in Redux Cut, as he didn't consider them so strange anymore. Here, however, he exaggerated in 2001 according to his own statement in the 2019 article by Deadline and showed more than he thinks makes sense today. Details about the Redux version can be found in our detailed comparison.
And for the film’s 40th anniversary, Francis Ford Coppola now presents us with a new version of his legendary anti-war film. The film now lasts 175 minutes without credits and is therefore 20 minutes shorter than the Redux version, but also 30 minutes longer than the theatrical version at that time. Coppola himself now calls this version the Final Cut. But if he wants to follow Oliver Stone's example, he can make an Ultimate Cut after the Final Cut in a few years. After the "final" 3rd version of Alexander, Stone added a fourth, "Ultimate" version. But this is another story and can be read here in the corresponding comparison.
What has been changed for the Final Cut of APOCALYPSE NOW?
In general, it can be said that the new film version tends to be based on the Redux version, as you could already guess from the closer runtime. Basically, Coppola has taken a middle course here. Some scenes that had been added compared to the theatrical version were completely deleted again, some only shortened.
The second encounter with the Playboy Bunnies as well as the scene towards the end, where Willard lies in a container and Kurtz reads Time Magazine, were cut completely. Even though Coppola himself only deals with the continuity in this part of the film in the interview with Vanity Fair, the suspicion expressed there suggests that the gimmicks with the girls might have been seen somewhat critical in the #MeToo age. The scene with the magazine can be attributed even more clearly to the changed zeitgeist, because nowadays Time Magazine simply doesn't have the same influence as it did a few years ago.
Only the long scene block in the French plantation and the dinner scene with conspiracy theories about the plantation were shortened. The stay with the French occupiers has always been a critically discussed extension of the Redux version. At the first announcement of the final cut, many were therefore disappointed that this scene is still included in principle. In fact, the smaller interventions have now changed the focus: political statements are relegated to the background and the small romance between Willard and Roxanne is thus more in focus. Not every fan was satisfied with this aspect either, but according to Coppola this serves as a link to the introductory scene. Here Willard destroys his hotel room alone in thoughts of his former wife.
At the very end of the film, material contained both in the theatrical version and the Redux version was shortened for the Final Cut. Willard scrolls less through Kurtz's dossier and is then no longer to be seen at his table. Here one can only speculate about Coppola's intention, at least the avoidance of connection errors would be conceivable. For the same reason a very short part of the entertainment on the boat, which was added in the Redux Cut compared to the theatrical version, is missing in the first third.
Releases of the new 4K restoration
It should be noted immediately that not only the Final Cut but also the theatrical version and the Redux version have been restored in 4K. The UHD premiere comes as a 6-disc set both in Germany and abroad: two 4K Blu-rays and two regular Blu-rays with the three film versions as well as two Blu-rays with all the bonus material. Fortunately, the film Blu-rays are also completely based on the new 4K restorations, which is unfortunately not always the case with Blu-rays included in 4K sets. Accordingly, a new Blu-ray edition with all three versions will be released and on DVD only the Final Cut is separately available.
Originally, the home video releases were announced worldwide at the same time for the end of August 2019 (we reported). In the US, Lionsgate was also able to meet this deadline: The 6-disc UHD/BD and 4-disc BD set have already been released there and were available for comparison. In Europe, StudioCanal took over the further release of the same restoration.
Runtimes are ordered as follows: Final Cut Blu-ray / Redux version Blu-ray
54:46 / 54:46-54:53
There's one shot missing where Willard laughs and boss says, "How am I gonna shoot him next time he comes around?"
Willard, as he grabs the board: "Hey, Chef, make some room back there for the board."
This avoids the jumpcut that occurs in the Redux version directly after. From the shot of Willard with board, it switches to another take with the board at the front of the picture.
82:24-82:29 / 82:31-93:06
The Final Cut here shows Kurtzí dossier longer, whereby the Redux version only re-enters after the scene block described here with the end part of the scene. Same course as in the theatrical version.
In the Redux version, a second encounter with the Playboy bunnies follows instead.
The boat arrives at another US outpost. The camp is totally run wild and rotten. Willard inquires about the commanding officer from some officers running around. He seems to have been dead for months and nobody really knows who is in command now. While the first tensions within Willard's crew are looming and there is a fight, Willard notices the helicopter with the "Playboy" logo. In exchange for a little petrol, Willard arranges two hours with the Playmates. Only Chief refuses and waits in the boat, while the rest of the crew enjoys the "Playboy bunnies". The boss gets Miss May, who he transforms into his beloved Miss December with a black wig. Miss May tells the story of her days as a bird trainer in Bush Gardens, while her boss turns her into an image of the "December" centerfold. When they finally kiss, Miss May excites the fact that Chef would kiss like a bird. Lance looks after the Playmate of the Year in an abandoned house. This playmate doesn't stop reciting a seemingly memorized biography about herself, as if in a trance. She talks about the obstacles and setbacks she had to overcome as Playmate of the Year. As they get closer, the playmate accidentally opens a box containing a dead Vietnamese man. In between, the young Clean runs around everywhere, who can't wait to finally get his promised time with the beauties. Later on on the boat, Chef raises the fact that Clean is obviously still a virgin. After a first, exclusive shot, the argument seamlessly turns into the course of the theatrical & Final Cut. There, however, it doesn't become clear that the men make fun of Clean's virginity.
Redux 629.7 sec (= 10:30 min) longer
Final Cut longer
82:41-82:45 / 93:18
Willard can be seen longer in the Final Cut, he's looking up.
This also corresponds to the theatrical version or is related to the off-screen discussion that was somewhat shifted by the previous scene block.
+ 4.1 sec
89:00-89:05 / 99:33-99:38
The black screen can also be seen here for a few seconds, but even longer in the Redux. The follow-up image thus fades in much earlier in the Final Cut (boat from farther right).
Again the Final Cut corresponds to the theatrical version.
no time difference
106:14 / 116:47-117:14
Another re-cut to the boat where Chief says, "Lance. Cover the captain."
Then a few more shots of them walking around.
Alternative / Circumferential
106:22-106:25 / 117:22-117:29
The side shot in the Redux is a bit longer and after another re-cut to Chief, Willard is earlier to be seen as he takes a few steps forward.
In Final Cut, a shot from the previous cut, where Chief grabs the gun, is inserted instead.
Redux 4.7 sec longer
107:28 / 118:32-118:41
A tracking shot along the people who are travelling with the journalist (Dennis Hopper).
107:52 / 119:05-119:21
In their first encounter, De Marais is seen longer and Willard much earlier.
114:30 / 125:59-126:42
The shot is stopped earlier and the camera moves on to the older man sitting at the other end of the table. He mentions that President Roosevelt had expelled the French from Indochina in 1945. De Marais adds that the Vietcong are only an invention of the Americans. Willard is surprised, the old man says a few sentences.
115:31 / 127:43-128:01
The angry man goes outside longer after he crushes the egg. Willard's neighbour remembers an encounter with an American politician who, according to a list of various Asian nations, would have thought that next time it could hit Europe.
115:33 / 128:03-128:16
Roxanne Sarrault is seen a little longer and while a musician joins the band, the events in Slovakia are pointed out critically.
115:39 / 128:23-128:26
Roxanne a little earlier.
116:05 / 128:52-128:59
As De Marais leaves the table while being annoyed, we see that shot longer. Also, the musician speaks to the Slovaks again.
Alternative / Recut
116:09-116:13 / 129:02-129:21
De Marais continues his theories in the Redux version, Roxanne is uneasy and looks down.
In Final Cut instead, another shot of Roxanne is inserted as a bypass. This is the moment at the beginning of 115:33 / 128:03-128:16.
Redux 15.2 sec longer
116:18 / 129:26-129:33
Willard can be seen a little longer and De Marais pushes the musician to the side.
118:36 / 131:51-132:30
At the beginning of the scene, De Marais tells more about the history of the plantation. His grandfather built it out of nothing, it was a lot of hard work. Roxanne smokes.
119:07 / 133:01-133:17
A first shot of Willard. De Marais cynically promises to help him repair the boat so Willard can continue his war.
119:10 / 133:20-133:24
Roxanne can be seen again.
153:32-153:40 / 167:46-173:17
In the Redux version, the shot of the screaming Willard quickly fades over to the inside of the dark container.
Surrounded by children, Kurtz visits Willard, who is trapped underground, and reads him Vietnam reports from Time Magazine. He asks him a few questions, Willard remains silent the whole time. Finally, Kurtz says Willard can move freely from now on, albeit under supervision. Kurtz leaves Willard, who is coming out of his prison.
In Final Cut, the shot of the screaming Willard fades over more slowly to the follow-up shot of the sun instead.
Redux 323.4 sec (= 5:23 min) longer
171:17 / 190:54-190:58
The browsing through of the dossier was somewhat shortened with a jumpcut. It was shown normally in Redux and the theatrical version, but there is also a (somewhat less noticeable) jumpcut.
171:28 / 191:09-191:32
Willard sits down at the table after turning the pages. This was also shown in Redux and theatrical version.
175:51-181:59 / 195:55-196:03
In the Redux, only a copyright notice appears after the black screen in the new 4K restorations. This was not the case with all releases, as you can already read in the old comparison between the theatrical version and Redux as well as in the intro above.
For the Final Cut, new credits on a black background were created instead.
Final Cut 358.9 sec (= 5:59 min) longer