Charlie Don’t Surf

Thursday, May 19 2011
Charlie Don’t Surf

It’s been out in assorted forms before, but Optimum’s forthcoming Apocalypse Now release, its first time on Blu-ray, really promises to be the definitive version of the film.

Due on May 27 for a brief theatrical bow ahead of the June 13 BD release, the film has been cleaned up, both in terms of the images and sound. Having seen it on the big screen in all its glory, we really can confirm it’s never looked this good. Our first viewing on a grainy VHS years ago led us to believe that you never saw Colonel Kurtz, but the new version of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam war masterpiece is as crystal clear as, well, a diamond bullet.

As well as the film in its original format, it includes the recent Redux, expanded version, a wealth of extras and, perhaps best of all, Hearts Of Darkness, Eleanor Coppola’s superlative documentary about the making of the film. Calling it a mere Making Of documentary does it a disservice, however, this really is far, far better than the average EPK and helped usher in a new era of documentary film-making on its original release some 20 years ago. Its unavailability only enhances Optimum’s release.

As we noted in last week’s Raygun newsletter, the PR has already kicked in and shows the film’s standing. The fact that film magazine Little White Lies has, for the first time in its history, devoted its front cover to what is effectively a catalogue release, illustrates that perfectly. And as for marketing, Stuart Henderson from Optimum says: “We’re supporting Apocalypse Now with high frequency TV spots on male-skewing satellite and digital channels, alongside key press insertions in film and men’s press which play on the film’s iconic dialogue and imagery, and position it as a great gifting opportunity for Father’s Day.

What Optimum can further capitalise on and what helps with the PR, is the position it holds in popular culture. The film has, over the years, entered pop culture in a way few others have – just check any Pixar or DreamWorks film for any of its numerous pop culture references, and we could easily compile a chart of samples or references to the film in assorted songs (The Aloof”s Never Get Out The Boat, Bomb The Bass’ Bug Powder Dust, 23 Skidoo’s Coup, Paradox’s Jailbreak, and that’s just off the top of our heads), and then, arguably most famously, there’s The Clash’s Charlie Don’t Surf, a line taken from the film that precedes the clip shown here.

The clip, in all its restored glory, features the most famous line in the film, as Robert Duvall states: “I love the smell of napalm in the morning”, a line that has been spoofed and repeated endlessly in the past 30 years or so.

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