Francis Ford Coppola’s epic Vietnam war film Apocalypse Now turns 40 this year, and comes to 4K Ultra HD in a suitably epic 6-disc set. But how does the movie shape up on the format? Will you love the smell of polycarbonate in the morning, or mutter “The horror… the horror…”?
The story: Many, many words have been used to describe and dissect Apocalypse Now over the years. The general consensus is that it’s a milestone in the history of cinema. It often makes for uneasy viewing, but considering both the story’s setting and plot this is as it should be. For the uninitiated, it essentially revolves around US Army Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen) being tasked – unofficially – with seeking out and assassinating rogue Green Beret Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who is believed to have, essentially, set himself up as a god.
“Never get out of the boat.”
The 4K disc: This bumper Collector’s Edition release features two 4K Ultra HD discs, as well as four standard Blu-rays. The first 4K disc features the newest edition of the film, The Final Cut, and it looks superb. Running at just over three hours, it has been fully restored in native 4K resolution, and given the Dolby Vision (and HDR should you require it instead) treatment. Detail is at a premium, as emulated in the video that we’ve embedded down the page. Levels of grain vary throughout due to the filmmaking process, with much of the movie only featuring fine, almost imperceptible levels. Other scenes feature it more heavily, again due to the techniques and lenses used, but it’s certainly never a deal breaker. Meanwhile, colour is impressive, with the Dolby Vision bringing previously unseen detail to some of the darker scenes, and lighting up when appropriate in daylight and other brighter scenes. The second 4K disc features the other two cuts of Apocalypse Now, the theatrical release at just under two-and-a-half hours and the epic three hour and 16 minutes Redux version. Both appear to have been assembled from the same restored footage, so what we’ve said for the Final Cut above also applies for these.
The luxury treatment hasn’t been reserved exclusively for the vision of Apocalypse Now, with audio having a major overhaul into Dolby Atmos. The results are spectacular, and are noticeable pretty much from the outset when a chopper flits overhead. Naturally, helicopters feature heavily, and the use of the various surround and height channels to bring their din just increases the claustrophobic, oppressive feeling of war that the movie delivers. Various other explosions and sounds of battle also use the sound stage well, and the bass channel really goes to town where appropriate. Throughout the din, music is suitably rousing, and the often intricate dialogue remains clean and clear.
If you’re into extra features that take you deep into a movie’s production, then this set is a veritable feast. The Final Cut 4K disc features a brief new introduction from Francis Ford Coppola, while the second 4K disc features an audio commentary from the director on the Redux cut. While the first two standard Blu-rays in the set replicate what’s on the 4K discs, the next two are bulging with content. We won’t go into full detail, but the first features two almost hour-long interviews, along with additional scenes (yes, there are almost 30 minutes more of them!), more than a dozen featurettes and an audio-only extra. The second standard Blu-ray delivers the gripping Hearts of Darkness making-of documentary with bonus commentary from Francis Ford Coppola, as well as behind the scenes footage, a Q&A, photo and marketing archives plus more featurettes, which include a selection created especially for this release. This really is how you do a Collector’s Edition.
Release date: October 16, 2019
Format: 4K Ultra HD
Starring: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut is also available in a stripped-back three-disc set here, which includes The Final Cut on both 4K Ultra HD and standard Blu-ray, plus the Hearts of Darkness bonus Blu-ray.
Want to know what to get next? Check out STACK‘s 4K Ultra HD specifications guide.