Apocalypse Now is like the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde of feature films in that it’s equally ambitious and inspiring as terrifying and controversial. On one hand the Academy Award winning chronicle of the Vietnam War is a gargantuan Golden Age worthy production complete with the sweeping visuals epic action and scope of a David Lean or Cecil B. DeMille picture. On the other it is a deeply personal haunting introspective study of the nature (and specifically the corruption) of man the ways of the world and our place in it. The duality of the material is well represented in today’s “Full Disclosure” Blu-ray release which is as much an acknowledgment of the problematic project and its long-term legacy as a celebration of the film itself.
For fans of the movie the novel from which it is based (Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness”) cinema students and historians this package is the quintessential collectors edition of Francis Ford Coppola’s massive masterpiece. The high definition transfer forged from the original negative materials is bold beautiful and bursting at the seams with vibrant color and picture quality so pristine you feel like you’re watching it in its awe-inspiring 70mm form. The sound is warmer and fuller than ever and you’ll notice that as much in the quieter character driven scenes as in the explosive money shots. More immersive than ever before Blu-ray is the best way to go deeper into the jungle than you’ve ever been.
I could go on and on about the significance and quality of the AV upgrades supervised by Coppola himself but the technical enhancements are not the reason that I consider this to be the best Blu-ray release of the year. As with most home entertainment releases the special features discs’ make or break the title and the “Full Disclosure” edition of Apocalypse Now which contains the most comprehensive collection of content related to the making of the movie and its place in film history is a winner. Let’s start with the 800 lb. gorilla in the package: Hearts of Darkness a feature length documentary co-directed by Eleanor Coppola and boasting behind-the-scenes footage so rare that Francis didn’t even know it existed.
This detailed account of the 238-day shoot is an epic in itself as it sheds light on all of the problems that plagued the production in the Philippines between March 1976 and May 1977. I’ve seen many making-of features over the years but none comes close to accomplishing what Hearts of Darkness does. You feel the sacrifices that the crew made and the pressures they faced as they filmed in hazardous conditions in a war-torn country. It’s a treasure-chest of insight into the creative and commercial aspects of filmmaking that is provocative and engrossing and will be cherished by future generations that will re-discover the film long after those involved with it are gone.
But that’s just disc three. Disc two features most of the fun stuff including candid interviews with screenwriter John Milius star Martin Sheen and Coppola (the interview with the auteur takes place at the 2001 Cannes Film Festival and is particularly nostalgic considering that Apocalypse Now took home the Palme d’Or 22 years earlier). There are a handful of deleted scenes so good my biggest complaint is that they weren’t infused into the feature for this definitive collection. An especially memorable piece is the alternate credits sequence which shows Kurtz’ compound being destroyed while dozens of camera’s capture the chaos. Real buffs will marvel over Orson Welles’ take on “Heart of Darkness” which he read over the radio in 1938 (Welles attempted to craft a cinematic adaptation back then but couldn’t get it going; he made Citizen Kane instead.)
Every element of the production is covered via featurettes on sound color music and editing making this “Full Disclosure” release the final word on the challenging film but like Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde there’s more than one side to the story that the special features tell. Whether your want to delve deeper into the history surrounding the subject matter or the cultural effect of the film there’s something for everybody in this amazing release. The cherry on top? A 48-page collectible booklet with production photos copies of documents timelines and more bringing you another step closer to the anarchy of Apocalypse Now.
Meet internationally renown oceanographer and documentarian Steve Zissou (Bill Murray) and some of his Team Zissou: Eleanor Zissou (Anjelica Huston) his estranged wife and the "brains behind the operation"; Klaus Daimler (Willem Dafoe) the loyal chief engineer; and Oseary Drakoulias (Michael Gambon) the septuagenarian producer. Unfortunately Zissou's days are numbered having been pushed close to bankruptcy by his arch rival Alistair Hennessey (Jeff Goldblum). But what's really bothering Zissou is that his best friend and longtime collaborator Esteban (Seymour Cassel) has been eaten by an underwater assailant known as the Jaguar Shark. Charged by vengeance Zissou sets out on his boat The Belafonte to hunt down the predator in one last filmed expedition. He is joined by two new Team Zissou members: Ned Plimpton (Owen Wilson) a young airline copilot who may be Zissou's son and Jane Winslett-Richardson (Cate Blanchett) a beautiful and pregnant journalist assigned to write a profile of Zissou. Along the way they face overwhelming complications including marauding pirates kidnappings and a maelstrom of human yearning.
Bill Murray has got to be one of the funniest people on the planet without ever seeming to be and his collaborations with director Wes Anderson (Rushmore The Royal Tenenbaums) have happily exploited that wellspring of comic talent. Zissou is pure Murray: slightly acerbic slightly aloof not terribly likable but deeply vulnerable. Sure the actor can play this part in his sleep but somehow he never makes it boring. The rest of the cast also measures up. Huston is striking as the austere Eleanor who is basically the glue that holds Zissou together. Wilson another Anderson staple is once again playing a very earnest fellow who simply wants to connect with the man who could be his long-lost father while also finding a little love with Jane. As the journalist the always good Blanchett who was actually pregnant during the making of Aquatic is perfect as the emotional conduit between Zissou and Ned. Dafoe finally gets to be funny in a film--and we don't count his turn as a surly fish in Finding Nemo--as the fiercely devoted Klaus who's a bit jealous of Ned. But the pièce de résistance is Brazilian actor Seu Jorge as The Belafonte's safety expert who regularly serenades the team with Portuguese renditions of David Bowie songs. Classic stuff.
In what is definitely the director's most ambitious film to date--and he may be tired of hearing that--The Life Aquatic further highlights Wes Anderson's twisted yet exquisitely witty sensibilities that were evident in his three previous efforts Bottle Rocket Rushmore and The Royal Tenenbaums. Paying obvious homage to the stiff documentaries made by the legendary Jacques Cousteau as well as incorporating references to such movies as The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Anderson and co-writer Noah Baumbach expertly hand us the skewed universe of Zissou in hilariously played-out sequences. We can also clearly see where the bigger budget went when Team Anderson sets out to sea. There's the spectacular Belafonte set with its individual compartments in which the actors move about and the campy stop-motion special effects of the odd sea life Zissou and gang encounter. While all of this makes for an enjoyable ride the movie ultimately lacks a cohesive soul. There is a small amount of redemption at the end when Zissou comes to terms with his life and ambitions but it seems tacked on as a way to tie everything up.
August 24, 2001 12:09pm EST
Harrison Ford's wife, screenwriter Melissa Mathison, has filed for a legal separation from the actor after 18 years of marriage, his spokesman said on Thursday. Mathison is also seeking custody of their two children, Malcom, 14, and Georgia, 11.
Things seemed to be going along fine for Ford and Mathison until last November, when they announced in a joint statement that they were separating, but still trying to work out their problems. Ford reportedly moved out of their New York City apartment and into a hotel.
That same month however, Ford, was seen in nightclubs, and rumors linking him romantically with actress Lara Flynn Boyle surfaced after The National Enquirer published photos of the two chatting over cocktails in a Manhattan club. At the time, Ford's manager and publicist, Patricia McQueeney, strongly denied rumors of a romance, calling the reports false and inaccurate.
Ford and Mathison then reportedly spent time together during the Christmas holidays.
In March, the two appeared to have patched things up. People magazine quoted a source close to Ford as saying, "They're definitely back together. He seems happier."
Unfortunately, the happy reunion didn't last very long, though Ford's spokeswoman said in a statement Thursday that the couple remains on good terms. She also added that Ford, 59, is currently spending time with his children at the couples Los Angeles home. Ford and Mathison also own homes n New York and Wyoming.
Ford had no comment on Mathison's petition.
Ford and Mathison met on the set of Apocalypse Now in 1978. Ford starred as Colonel Lucas in the epic war drama while Mathison worked as an executive assistant. They married in 1983.
During the filming, Ford was married to his first wife Mary with whom he had two children, Benjamin and William. They divorced in 1979.
Mathison, on the other hand, was said to be having a relationship with Apocalypse Now director Francis Ford Coppola. Starting off as a baby sitter for Coppola's children, she eventually left UC Berkley to work as Coppola's assistant on The Godfather, Part II in 1974.
Coppola's aides have confirmed the rumor that Mathison was the young woman to whom Eleanor Coppola refers when she discusses her husband's extramarital interest in Notes, her journal on the making of Apocalypse Now.