Apocalypse Now cinematographer Vittorio Storaro is (in)famous for having long insisted upon cropping Apocalypse Now, originally filmed in 35mm widescreen Panavision at an aspect ratio of 2.35 to 1, to a somewhat less wide shape — either a 2.00 to 1 aspect ratio (which are the dimensions of Storaro’s Univisium system, which he would like to see adopted as a universal standard) or a 70mm aspect ratio of 2.21 to 1.
But now the gates have been stormed and Vittorio’s rule has been overturned. Lionsgate announced today that the forthcoming Apocalypse Now Bluray, set for release on 10.19, will be presented in 2.35 to 1. Yes!
Francis Coppola‘s legendary 1979 film was shown in the 70mm widescreen aspect ratio (2.21 to 1) during its initial engagements in big-city theatres, and then in the wider 35mm aspect ratio when it went into general release. But on Apocalypse Now DVDs (including the Redux version), Storaro standards have prevailed with the image cropped to either 2.21 to 1 or 2.00 to 1. I was never entirely sure which one it was, but I know two things: (a) it was boxier (i.e., a certain percentage of the sides sliced off), and (b) a lot of people in the elite home video community have been pissed at Storaro for years about this. So Lionsgate’s decision has almost made Storaro into a kind of metaphor for Nicolae Ceaucescu escaping Budapest in a helicopter in late December 1989.
As HE’s Moises Chiullan put it earlier today, “Our long 2.20:1 nightmare, begun by the otherwise-brilliant Vittorio Storaro, is at last over — on this picture, at least.”
There will be two Bluray versions of Apocalypse Now available from Lionsgate: (1) a 2-disc two-film set, which contains the 1979 and Redux versions, old extras and some new ones, and (2) a 3-disc full disclosure edition, which duplicates everything in the two-film set and adds George Hickenlooper and Fax Bahr‘s Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse, more extras, a 48-page booklet, and yaddah-yaddah.