” ‘Perfection’ can be its own limitation, and sometimes a ‘flaw’ may contribute mightily to a work’s ultimate power. (A work without flaws is a work without ambition).’ The Roman poet Horace often inserted lines in his poetry that stuck out like sore thumbs, forcing the reader to confront the established pattern; Horace’s aims were different, and more profound, than the reader initially thought they were. ‘Apocalypse Now‘ functions in the same way, its makers committed to a rare and glorious vision,” director James Gray writes in Rolling Stone, as part of a longer, must-read appreciation of Francis Ford Coppola‘s epic film. And Roger Ebert agreed with him.
It was 35 years ago today that ‘Apocalypse Now’ —riding the bifurcated buzz of a Palme d’Or from Cannes and negative reaction with respect to the film’s troubled production— hit cinemas. To this day, the film remains a powerful work of evocative imagery, stunning sequences and a cumulative feeling of awe. But it says something about the nature of cinema that some critics got it wrong the first time out. Below you can check out a segment from “Siskel and Ebert’s 500th Anniversary Show” from 1989, in which Ebert names ‘Apocalypse Now’ the best film of the past fourteen years. At the end he reminds Gene Siskel that he had given Coppola’s movie a thumbs down the first time down, mostly due to the final act. But Ebert, like Gray, points out that the film’s “imperfections” are what make it so vital.
Also below is a brief vintage featurette, “Money, Method & Madness – Making Apocalypse Now” including reflections from Coppola, Martin Sheen and Dennis Hopper on the making of the movie. Check it all out below along with clips from the movie. What are your thoughts on ‘Apocalypse Now’ 35 years on?