Coppola's $40 million epic vision of the Vietnam War was inspired by Joseph Conrad's novella "Heart of Darkness," and continues to be the subject of debate. Disillusioned Army captain Sheen travels upriver into Cambodia to assassinate overweight renegade colonel Brando. His trip is punctuated by surrealistic battles and a terrifying descent into a land where human rationality seems to have slipped away. Considered by some to be the definitive picture of war in its overall depiction of chaos and primal bloodletting; by others, over-wrought and unrealistic. May not translate as well to the small screen, yet worth seeing if for nothing more than Duvall's ten minutes of scenery chewing as a battle-obsessed major ("I love the smell of napalm in the morning!"), a study in manic machismo. Stunning photography by Vittorio Storaro, awe-inspiring battle scenes, and effective soundtrack montage. Both Sheen and Coppola suffered emotional breakdowns during the prolonged filming, and that's a very young Fishburne in his major film debut. Available in a remastered version in letterbox on VHS with a remixed soundtrack that features Dolby Surround stereo. In 1991 a documentary detailing the making of the film, "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse," was released.
Paramount Home Video, 5555 Melrose Ave., 5555 Melrose Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90038, Phone: (323)956-5000, URL: http://www.paramount.com, Remarks: Does not handle retail queries from consumers; contact your local video distributor.
Available on VHS, DVD
Running time 153 minutes.
Oscars 1979: Cinematog., Sound; AFI 1998: Top 100; British Acad. 1979: Director (Coppola), Support. Actor (Duvall); Cannes 1979: Film; Golden Globes 1980: Director (Coppola), Support. Actor (Duvall), Score, Natl. Film Reg. 2000;; Natl. Soc. Film Critics 1979: Support. Actor (Forrest).
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