When I read three years ago that Vittorio Storaro had been chosen as the cinematographer for Apocalypse Now, I was shocked. Storaro, the lush Vogue-style photographer of Last Tango in Paris and The Conformist, for a picture that was being billed as the definitive epic about Vietnam!
Though inspired by Joseph Conrad’s classic tale Heart of Darkness, Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is the kind of film we don’t ordinarily think of as an adaptation. And not simply because of its change of tide. It doesn’t acknowledge its literary source in its credits—they simply read: “Screenplay by John Milius and Francis Coppola; Narration by Michael Herr.”
In The Power of Adaptation in "Apocalypse Now" Marsha Kinder critically compares and contrasts the film and the novel. In this article, Kinder states that "Coppola rarely hesitates to change Conrad's story-setting, events, characters-whenever the revision is required by the Vietnam context."
The Godfather bore witness to the bitter truth: evil, hydra-headed, renews itself and triumphs in the end; in America, the Corleones win.
What does Apocalypse Now mean—the film as we have it, considering the minimal difference between the 35mm version with the title sequence and the 70mm version without, but ignoring all the prerelease stories and versions, preliminary scripts, and encrusted commentary?
Pauline Kael reviews 'New York Stories', the 1989 anthology film consisting of three shorts with the central theme being New York City. Episodes directed by Martin Scorsese, Francis Ford Coppola and Woody Allen.
Hurricane Marlon is sweeping the country, and I wish it were more than hot air. A tornado of praise—cover stories and huzzahs—blasts out the news that Brando is giving a marvelous performance as Don Corleone in The Godfather, the lapsed Great Actor has regained himself, and so on. As a Brando-watcher for almost 30 years, I’d like to agree.
The Godfather II is a sequel to a film whose narrative drive and choreographed violence made it one of the better genre films of recent years. It is colder, more severe, less violent and much more ambitious than the original The Godfather.
There’s nothing fun or funny to be found here. It offers us only the absorption of good acting and good storytelling combined with a plausible anthropology of a strange, terribly relevant culture. What more could we possibly want from a movie? How often, these days, do we get anything like all that?
And then there was Marion Brando, against all the odds, cast in one of filmdom’s juiciest roles, as mob chief Don Vito Corleone. He was eased in, despite stiff opposition from the studio brass, because of the advocacy of a thirtyish fan, Francis Ford Coppola, an Italian-American who happened to be the director of The Godfather. Once he got the part, Brando in turn helped Coppola maintain camaraderie during the frenzied three-month shooting by kibitzing with the cast and establishing a fatherly relationship.
THE GODFATHER PLAYS ON OUR SECRET ADMIRATION FOR MEN WHO GET WHAT THEY WANT – by Arthur Schlesinger Jr. [Vogue]
Inflation does not always assure survival. My guess is that three years from now we will still remember scenes from Raoul Walsh’s The Roaring Twenties (1939) while The Godfather will have become a vague memory.
The Godfather is, furthermore, and by critical consensus, a stunning confirmation of my claims for Coppola's talents: vividly seen, richly detailed, throbbing with incident and a profusion of strikingly drawn characters
A wide, startlingly vivid view of a Mafia dynasty, in which organized crime becomes an obscene nightmare image of American free enterprise. The movie is a popular melodrama with its roots in the gangster films of the 30s, but it expresses a new tragic realism, and it's altogether extraordinary.
Coppola’s "heart of darkness," like Conrad’s, is a triumph of style over story. Or rather, the description—words for Conrad, mise-en-scène for Coppola—is the story’s raison d'être.
by Marjorie Rosen In Hollywood circles the adage, "You're as good as your last picture," holds more truth than is comfortable or healthy. It could also be why interviewing a director as the reviews for his latest opus are rolling in may either resemble a wake or a euphoric victory [...]
Apocalypse Now achieved its highest aspiration: Not only was it immersed in the historical period and place - Vietnam - but it was an allegory of people facing reality and truth.
Certain films contain what I shall call "operatic montage," a form of montage which manipulates temporal and spatial relations in film, typically to melodramatic ends.
Throughout the three hours and twenty minutes of Part II, there are so many moments of epiphany — mysterious, reverberant images, such as the small Vito singing in his cell — that one scarcely has the emotional resources to deal with the experience of this film.
"The Conversation" was very ambitious, and I hung in not because it was going right, but because I couldn't accept within myself the judgment that I couldn't succeed in doing it. It's a funny thing, but I just couldn't let the project go."
by Andrew Sarris I It came over the car radio while I was driving out to wintry, stormy Long Island for the Memorial Day weekend. The Conversation had won the Grand Prize at Cannes, The Sugarland Express had been singled out for its screenplay, and Jack Nicholson had been named [...]
I am convinced that The Godfather could have been a more profound film if Coppola had shown more interest (and perhaps more courage) in those sections of the book which treated crime as an extension of capitalism and as the sine qua non of showbiz.
by Pauline Kael At the end of The Godfather Part II (1974), the story was complete—beautifully complete. Francis Ford Coppola knew it, and for over a decade he resisted Paramount’s pleas for another sequel. But the studio’s blandishments became more honeyed, his piggy bank was smashed, and late in 1988 [...]
Vittorio Storaro recalls the photographic challenges he confronted during the tumultuous production of Francis Ford Coppola's hallucinatory Vietnam War epic 'Apocalypse Now'
Taking a best-selling novel of more drive than genius (Mario Puzo's The Godfather), about a subject of something less than common experience (the Mafia), involving an isolated portion of one very particular ethnic group (first-generation and second-generation Italian-Americans), Francis Ford Coppola has made one of the most brutal and moving chronicles of American life ever designed within the limits of popular entertainment.
"The most important thing I wanted to do in the making of Apocalypse Now was to create a film experience that would give its audience a sense of the horror, the madness, the sensuousness, and the moral dilemma of the Vietnam war. "
Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now lives up to its grand title, disclosing not only the various faces of war but also the contradictions between excitement and boredom, terror and pity, brutality and beauty.
Viewed as a conventional updating of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now looks like not much more than a cannibalization.