Vittorio Storaro

Apocalypse Now Redux

Interviewed by James Mottram

As the cinematographer on "Apocalypse Now", was it strange for you to see "Apocalypse Now Redux"?

Not really, because it happened to me a few years ago when we restored [Bertolucci's] "1900". In 1995, there was a homage to Bertolucci, and I was asked to supervise the restoration.

Were you always keen to do "Apocalypse Now"?

Originally, I didn't like to do "Apocalypse Now". It was translated in Italian not very well. To me it appeared as a war movie. When you have helicopters and an army waiting, you have to shoot... there's nothing you can do. The Vietnam War for an Italian in 1974 was not something connected to our culture. It was far away. It was not something that touched me. Francis Coppola told me to read [Joseph Conrad's] "Heart of Darkness" - that's where the answer lies. Reading "Heart of Darkness", I finally understood "Apocalypse Now". There was a principal - any culture cannot over-impose itself on another culture, because it's going to destroy it. It has to respect it. That happens in any civilisation. The heart of darkness does not belong to the barbarian or another culture. It belongs to us.

How much do you remember about the madness of the shoot?

There was no madness at all. It is a fairy tale about the madness. We were not mad. It's true that any movie we were doing represented our lives. Every movie is one section of our life. But when a movie is so long, so far away, so expensive, so difficult, so dangerous, it becomes even more a part of your life. We started with one script, and every day we changed it completely. The basic structure was there, but we were not ready to shoot "Apocalypse Now". We changed the movie because we changed ourselves. We faced difficulty, but there was no madness.

"Apocalypse Now Redux" opens in UK cinemas on Friday 23rd November 2001.