It’s 40 years since Apocalypse Now first hit movie screens.
And on Monday night, Francis Ford Coppola and some of the original stars including Martin Sheen and Laurence Fishburne reunited for a special screening of what the director says is his definitive ‘final cut’ of the legendary Vietnam War film.
Coppola showed the feature for the first time at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York in April and it will be shown in selective IMAX theatres this week before a wider release in the fall.
Reunited: Martin Sheen and Laurence Fishburne joined Frances Ford Coppola for a special screening of his Apocalypse Now Final Cut Monday night in Hollywood
Coppola, 80, has spent two years fine-tuning his masterpiece which entered into lore with its troubled shoot on location in The Philippines, Sheen’s near fatal heart attack and the sets being destroyed by a typhoon.
The film, which received eight Academy Award nominations, also starred Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper and Sam Bottoms.
For his part, Coppola regards Apocalypse Now as an examination of human morality, telling The Guardian in an interview published last Friday: ‘I really feel that this version of Apocalypse Now achieves more of what that theme has to give than any of the previous versions.’
Legendary: It’s 40 years since Apocalypse Now was released in movie theatres and the Vietnam War film is now regarded as a masterpiece
Final Cut: Coppola, 80, has edited his ‘definitive’ version of the movie which received eight Oscar nominations and also starred Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper
Infamous: The making of Apocalypse Now entered into Hollywood lore for its troubled shoot in The Philippines, Sheen’s near fatal heart attack and the sets being destroyed by a typhoon
Sheen wasn’t the first actor to film scenes for the lead role of veteran U.S. Army special operations officer Captain Benjamin L. Willard.
Harvey Keitel had originally been cast as the officer ordered to hunt down and ‘terminate’ the vigilante actions of the deranged Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, played by an overweight and under-prepared Brando.
But after just a few days of filming, Coppola replaced Keitel with Sheen whose audition for the role of Michael in The Godfather had impressed him, even though the part went to Al Pacino.
There’s also a story to Fishburne’s participation in the film.
The actor lied about his age in order to get the part of the teenage Bronx-born Gunner’s Mate 3rd Class Tyrone Miller and was just 14 when production began in 1976.
But by the time the movie opened in theatres he had turned 17, the age of his character, due to the long drawn out film shoot, that lasted more than a year instead of the planned five months, and Coppola’s drawn out editing process.
Tales to tell: Fishburne, left, was just 14 when filming started after he lied about his age to get the role of a cocky teenage Gunner’s Mate while Sheen, right, was brought in to replace original star Harvey Keitel after just a few days of shooting in The Philippines
Memories: Fishburne and Sheen seemed thrilled to be together and posed up a storm on the red carpet ahead of the screening
Played their parts: Also on hand were original castmembers Frederic Forrest, left, and Albert Hall, right
Veteran actor: Scott Glenn, who had a minor role in Apocalypse Now, came out to support the event as well
Also on hand for the screening were castmembers Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall and Scott Glenn.
So, too, was Andy Garcia who worked with Coppola on The Godfather: Part III.
Celebrity guests included actresses Illeana Douglas, Kelly Lynch, Thora Birch and Maya Kazan.
Got an invite: Andy Garcia, who worked with Coppola on The Godfather: Part III, was on the guest list
In demand: Fans clamored to get Coppola’s autograph before he headed into the movie theatre
Man of the moment: Inside the theatre, the filmmaker said a few words of introduction
Red carpet style: Actress Illeana Douglas was among the famous faces who came out to see the film and wore a low-cut white lace dress with bright red peep toe heels
Posed: Thora Birch walked the red carpet in a black tuxedo-style jacket over a white tee and black ripped jeans
VIPs: Other guests included Maya Kazan, left, in a strapless black frock with sheer patterned overlay, left, and Kelly Lynch showed up in a blue floral print dress and white ankle boots