Different movies have different looks, and different types of movies transferred in high definition look different on Blu Ray. That’s made it interesting to review Blu Rays, and there is more than one way for a Blu Ray to look good. For example, the careful restoration of The Godfather made sure that the film retained a filmic quality with the same tint as a theatrical exhibition, preserving the way the film originally looked.
Apocalypse Now took another popular Blu Ray approach, one I tend to prefer myself. They’ve made it look like a brand new movie all over again. The grain of film is gone. The picture is so sharp and clear that it looks like you’re observing the jungles of Vietnam. Colors pop with a lush, green jungle, fiery explosions and a purple haze of smoke. It’s shiny, it glistens, it’s a beautiful picture of tragedy.
Not that you’re supposed to be enjoying this look at a grizzly war. The improved picture only enhances the feeling of dread when you see the paint bubbles on the helicopter, or the bumps on Brando’s head. The Blu Ray maintains this level of quality in all kinds of light. Obviously the bright daylight shines on the helicopter attack, but rainy, muddle jungle is just as clear, as are the dark silhouettes in Kurtz’s compound. There seems to be a golden tint to the light in Kurtz’s camp.
I see sporadic white dots pepper the film on occasion. Those may be dirt specs or digital artifacts. Either way, they’re so minimal I can’t believe that a 30-some-year-old film made such vast improvements with only minor effects peeping through. We accept scratches and dirt when we’re watching a movie. Seeing them on a supernaturally pristine Blu Ray of Apocalypse Now is a trippy melding of past and present.
Actually, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse holds up pretty well too for a movie shot behind the scenes and edited decades later. You see a lot of grain in the interview and on set segments, but that makes it feel like a gritty raw expose’. The photos and art hold up clearly. Both versions of Apocalypse Now and its ancillary project have been well preserved for the modern archive in this Blu Ray collection.