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.