Somewhere in here goes the French Plantation scene, which was excised from the original movie but restored in the Redux version. On the whole, I’d say it was a good cut; the scene is slow-moving, talk-heavy, and kills all the story’s forward motion. But it does have some historical interest and is worth a viewing or two.
In this version of the story, the boat finds refuge from the fog with a family of holdovers from Vietnam’s past as a French colony. Most of the scene is taken up by a formal French dinner where Willard gets into a long political discussion with the head of the family, de Marais, played by Christian Marquand. His gist can be summed up in a couple of sentences:
When you ask me why we want to stay here, Captain…we want to stay here because it’s ours. It belongs to us. It keeps our family together. I mean, we fight for that. While you Americans…you are fighting for the biggest nothing in history.
There is also an uncle who plays the accordion and Francis Coppola’s sons, Gian-Carlo and Roman, make quick appearances as young Frenchies.
As the dinner goes on, Willard starts making eyes with a cigar-smoking blonde, the young widow played by Aurore Clement. Later, in her room, she fixes him a pipe of opium and they have an intimate moment. Some music plays that might be called “Love Theme from Apocalypse Now,” and the whole thing feels like it belongs to another movie altogether.
I had hoped to write more about this scene, but I don’t own Redux and could only find parts of it on the Web. There is a copy of Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier in the Humboldt County Public Library system, but it is now two days overdue and most likely being used as a bongrest by some goddamn hippie who may or may not ever get around to returning it.
In Hearts of Darkness, Coppola says, “Our budgets were cut way down and we didn’t get the cast we wanted, but of course the art department and the other departments didn’t cut theirs down. So I was very incensed that I had this extraordinary set…these extraordinary decorations…I was angry at the French sequence, and I cut it out out of that.” I am now mad at it also, and I am going to cut it too. We’ll pick this up next week.