Out here, deep in the tropics, I was researching movies set in this corner of the world and, inevitably, that led me to Apocalypse Now. Today it is considered to be possibly the greatest Vietnam movie ever made, and some claim it is one of the greatest movies ever made, period.


The movie is feted. It received eight Academy Award nominations at the 52nd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Coppola), and Best Supporting Actor for Duvall. It would go on to win Best Cinematography and Best Sound.

It is ranked No. 14 in Sight & Sounds greatest movies poll and No. 6 in the Director’s Poll of greatest films of all time.

Roger Ebert also included it in his top 10 list of greatest films ever in 2012, and in 2000, it was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.

“Mentioning Conrad makes you look smarter!”

So it was something of a surprise to discover the reviews from the time it was released. The word “mixed” springs to mind. The main thrust of them seems to be that, while Vittorio Storaro’s cinematography is raved about, the way the movie handles the major themes is a let down. One critic said it was:

“…anticlimactic and intellectually disappointing…”

This set me thinking about other movies we consider today as among the greats that have taken time to reach that standing. Unbelievably, even The Empire Strikes Back had a mauling at the hands of some critics upon release. Blade Runner was a critical and commercial failure in all levels when released. This felt like something worthy of debate among you, our glorious Outposters.

Which movie has grown the most, critically, in stature from release up to today?

Have at it Outposters! Just like f***in’ Saigon ain’t it, Slick?


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