Register  |   Log In  |  
Sign up to our weekly newsletter    
Empire Magazine and iPad
Follow Me on Pinterest YouTube Tumblr
Trending On Empire
Done In 60 Seconds Competition 2015
Guide To Marvel's Infinity War
The Making Of The West Wing
Get 12 Issues For Only £25 Today
The perfect gift this Christmas
London Film Festival 2014
Our round-up of the galas, films and interviews
Director’s Cuts: The Good, The Bad and The Unnecessary
The intriguing stories behind special editions

submit to reddit

Undisputed masters on set, even the great directors can come off second best in a showdown over a Burbank boardroom table. The director’s cut has proved a handy way of restoring jobbed theatrical cuts to their intended form. Some improve the original out of sight (Daredevil), some do the exact opposite (the ‘Love Conquers All’ edit of Brazil), and some just add seafood (Spartacus). But why didn’t they appear in this form originally? We investigate some of the most famous examples…

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
  1 of 10 Next
Director’s Cuts: The Good, The Bad and The Unnecessary | Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)
Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)

Theatrical release running time: 153 mins
Redux running time: 202 mins

The production of Apocalypse Now was like filmmaking reimagined by the writers of Lost. There was the humid, camera-snagging jungle, illness, typhoons, psychological breakdowns, overweight stars, disappearing helicopters and yet more illness. All that was missing was an outbreak of psychotic polar bears. A calm 20 week schedule stretched into 14 clammy months mired in the Philippines, overseen with increasing desperation by Francis Ford Coppola for whom every day seemed an opportunity for fresh calamity. The temptation to get off the boat must have been overwhelming. Instead, he reached further into his own pockets and borrowed a motza from United Artists. Under pressure to release a film that had picked up the moniker ‘Apocalypse Never’ by an increasingly sceptical media, Coppola and Walter Murch edited 1.25m feet (or 200 hours) of film into a 153 minute theatrical cut that lacked nothing in terms of narcotic genius but shed some of the historical context of John Milius’ script.

What we missed
Like Ridley Scott on Kingdom Of Heaven, Coppola was deterred by screening reactions. “The first people saw it and said, ‘This is surreal,’ he reflected. “I got sort of shy, and so we cut it. Years later, I was in a hotel room in London and it came on, and I watched and I thought, ‘Hey, this isn't strange at all.’ I realized that over the years we, the audience, had changed.” And so the Redux version was born. Reunited with Murch, Coppola recut from the dailies, adding 49 minutes to Willard’s lysergic journey into Conrad’s heart of darkness. The odyssey is given humour (the theft of Kilgore’s surfboard), context (a now more, ahem, rounded Colonel Kurtz reads Willard a Time magazine article on the war) and richness (the Technicolor dye-transfer transfer).

What we could have lived without:
The plantation scene is the weak link. Does Apocalypse Now really need a moody love scene? Aurore Clément apart, the contextualising feels a bit clunky (let’s blame the French!) and the dinner party set piece, basically a potted lesson of Indochinese history, drains the pace from the film. The added Playboy Bunnies don’t add much either. And we don’t say that lightly.

It may be Coppola’s preferred version but it’ll polarise fans forever. The trimmer, shorter version remains the definitive cut.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
1 of 10

Have Your Say
Register or login now to let us know what you think.


Get the best seat in the house by subscribing to the world's biggest movie magazine today. Save up to 69% and every month you'll get exclusive subscriber-only covers, access to the biggest stars and the best news, reviews and behind-the-scenes reports straight from the set. Click here to find the perfect offer for you

Empire's Farewell To Middle-Earth Issue:
Guest -Edited By Peter Jackson

The countdown to Empire's stunning new issue begins here...

Josh Hutcherson On The Hunger Games Phenomenon
'I've done my fair share of young adult material now'

What Is A Squidward? A Beginner's Guide To SpongeBob SquarePants
If you aren’t already a massive fan, prepare to become one

Classic Feature: Gods Among Us - Robert De Niro
The heavyweight champion of character immersion, explosive rage and jawdropping subtleties

Empire Meets Thelma Schoonmaker
On editing Scorsese, GoodFellas and a life in film

5 Possible Captain America: Civil War Roles For Daniel Brühl
Failing a Red Skull return, here are some Marvel villains the actor could play...

Kit Harington On How To Train Your Dragon 2
As the sequel hits home entertainment, we talk to the Game Of Thrones star

Subscribe to Empire magazine
Get 12 Issues Of Empire For Only £25!

Get exclusive subscriber-only covers each month!

Subscribe today

Subscribe to Empire iPad edition
Get The Empire iPad Edition Today

Subscribe and save money on annual digital subscription

Subscribe today
Buy single issues

Get 12 issues of Empire for just £25!
Get the world's greatest movie magazine delivered straight to your door! Subscribe today!
Empire's Film Studies 101 Series
Everything you ever wanted to know about filmmaking but were afraid to ask...
The Empire iPad Edition
With exclusive extras, interactive features, trailers and much more! Download now
Home  |  News  |  Blogs  |  Reviews  |  Future Films  |  Features  |  Interviews  |  Images  |  Competitions  |  Forum  |  iPad  |  Podcast  |  Magazine Contact Us  |  Empire FAQ  |  Subscribe To Empire  |  Register
© Bauer Consumer Media Ltd  |  Legal Info  |  Editorial Complaints  |  Privacy Policy  |  Bauer Entertainment Network
Bauer Consumer Media Ltd (company number 01176085 and registered address 1 Lincoln Court, Lincoln Road, Peterborough, England PE1 2RF)