Workprints, rough versions of films before the editing process kicks in and trims out all the material deemed surplus, are considered priceless memorabilia among filmlovers. The 5-hour-long version of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now, moreover, is considered to be the Holy Grail among them. Now, we’re excited beyond words to share with you the 289-minute version of this classic picture. Just so we give you time to let it sink in—if the theatrical release print lasted 153 minutes, and if the Redux issue offered 202 minutes of the film, this means this rough cut gives us the priceless chance to enjoy an additional hour and a half of Coppola’s groundbreaking study of human nature. Before you start enjoying this highly educational ride, let us prepare you for what you’re about to witness.
It became a famous fact that it took almost two years for Coppola and his editors to cut down a million feet of film and turn it into the movie filmgoers got to know back in 1979. What this workprint offers is an invaluable insight into the filmmaking process, shedding light on what kind of decisions Coppola was forced to make as he labored to get the film done. It’s exhilarating to see practically everything the crew filmed during the extremely tough production period in the Philippines, and it’s even more enlightening to witness what exactly failed to find its place in the final version of the film, cut out and ignored because Coppola decided the material, as exhausting as it was to film it in the first place, did not enrich the story. One of the most important things that Coppola cut, at least according to our opinion, is the political aspect of the film: scenes in which characters criticize the US involvement in Vietnam. It was apparently decided the film would benefit more from concentrating on psychology and human nature. And who’s to say Coppola made a bad call?
This exact list of the differences in this workprint and the original release has been cruising the web for about ten years, and can be found on numerous forums, tracker websites, and so on. We’re not able to credit the author of the text, but do not in any way mean to imply these are C&B’s words. If anyone knows the name of the author, we encourage you to let us know so we could acknowledge it in the article. Enjoy the ride, folks. We certainly have.
WHAT’S DIFFERENT IN THIS WP
- A longer opening montage, the entire 10 minute song The End by The Doors is heard. It intercuts longer helicopters/jungle images with Willard in the hotel room in a drunken rage, as well as a scene where he is with a prostitute. There are various shots outside depicting the streets of Saigon.
- When the two soldiers pick up Willard in the hotel room there is a brief conversation while they help him shower and shave. They notify him that his wait for his new mission is now over.
- The scene where Willard is given his assignment is longer and contains much more dialogue. The general informs Willard that the mission is purely voluntary and he can decline it. The general also offers Willard a promotion to major upon completion of the mission. For some reason Colonel Kurtz is referred to in this scene as ‘Colonel Leevy.’ There are some external shots of the military base.
- A brief scene where Willard is introduced to the crew of the Navy P.B.R.
- Carmine Coppola’s score is not present in this version. Many more songs by The Doors are played throughout the film instead.
- None of the narration or dossier voiceovers are in this version.
- There is no audio dubbing in this version. All the audio is from the sound recorded during the actual filming. Much of Robert Duvall’s dialogue is unitelligable due to the sound of the helicopters in his scenes.
- A much longer first cavalry ‘Ride of Valkyrie’ attack scene (30+ mins) showing much unused footage and alternate takes.
- A much longer playboy bunnies performance.
- Various extended scenes on the boat, and alternate takes and shots.
- A scene where a miniature toy boat passes the Navy PBR. Lance tries to grab it out of the water. The Chief yells at him to leave it alone claiming it’s a booby trap. To prove it the Chief fires some shots at it to which it explodes.
- When the P.B.R. reaches Do-lung bridge, the soldier that greets them gives a more detailed explanation of the chaos around the bridge.
- When Lance is reading his letters on the boat, he suddenly stops to machine gun a water buffalo on the shore. The Chief yells at him to stop.
- The sequence where Clean is killed is omitted.
- A slightly longer French plantation sequence. After the French woman strips she crawls into the bed with Willard and they begin kissing.
- The sequence where the Chief is killed is omitted.
- More dialogue between Willard and the photojournalist when they first reach the Kurtz compound. The Journalist reveals that it was HE who was able to get the montangnards to break off their attack on the boat in the previous scene. Willard repeatedly asks the Journalists name but he refuses to answer.
- The character of Colby, (the soldier who was sent before Willard to kill Kurtz, played by Scott Glenn) has a much more substantial role in this version. As Willard inspects the compound, Colby tells Willard that the night before, NVA soldiers had attacked (which explains all the bodies laying about the compound). Willard then enters Kurtz’s house, much to the dismay of the journalist. Willard sees Kurtz empty bed and his medals, also his journal with the inscription ‘Drop the bomb, exterminate them all’ (many of these scenes were in the final version but re-inserted in different places).
- The scene where Willard talks to Chef about the air strike on the boat is omitted.
- The first time Kurtz appears is the scene where a mud caked Willard is tied up (seated) to a pole in the rain. Kurtz appears with camouflage face paint, Willard asks… “Why he is being mistreated?” and tries to bluff his way past Kurtz by telling him that he had just completed a secret mission in Cambodia, and only stopped for supplies. Kurtz says nothing to him, but plants Chef’s head in his lap. (Only a portion of this scene was in the original version).
- The scene where Willard meets Kurtz in his bed chamber contains more dialogue… as Kurtz makes it clear that he knows why Willard is there.
- A scene where Kurtz talks to Willard in the bamboo cage while two children sit on top of the cage and dangle insects in Willard’s face. He tells him that Willard is “like his colleagues in Washington, master liars who want to win the war but don’t want to appear as immoral or unethical.”
- A lengthy scene where the montangnards in a ritualistic display pick up the bamboo cage (with Willard inside) and poke him with sticks (Lance and Colby participate in this). The natives dance around the bamboo cage, chanting and singing while a squealing pig is tied up and killed.
- A 10 minute version of the scene where Kurtz reads the poem ‘The Hollow Men,’ intercutting between his reading and the journalist talking with Willard.
- A scene where the journalist meets Willard to tell him that he thinks Kurtz is about to kill him because he took his picture again. During which Colby comes behind the journalist and shoots him three times, killing him. Willard throws a knife at Colby’s stomach to which he falls, but before he dies he asks Willard to talk to his family for him and asks him to kill Kurtz.
- Kurtz speech about the horror and the children vaccination are omitted.
- During the assassination scene at the end, before Willard enters Kurtz’ home, one of the guards confronts him. Willard picks up a spear to defend himself as the guard picks up a child to shield himself. Willard runs the spear right through the child and into the guard. The final scene with Willard and the montangnards after Kurtz assasination are omitted.
- This version is 5 hours long!!!
The DVD/Three-Disc Full Disclosure Edition Blu-ray of the film is available at Amazon and other online retailers. Absolutely our highest recommendation.
Here are several photos taken behind-the-scenes during production of Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now. Still photographers: Chas Gerretsen, Josh Weiner, David Jones, and Dick White.