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#113- Apocalypse Now

Quick recap: During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a top secret mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz, who has gone insane.

also considered to be a fine surfing film also considered to be a fine surfing film

Fun(?) fact: The making of Apocalypse Now is so interesting that there is a documentary about it called ‘Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse’,so I’ll save the good trivia for when I watch it. However, one of the most interesting aspects of this film is how much of it is ad-libbed or improvised altogether, such as the beginning scene with Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando’s speech as Colonel Kurtz.

My thoughts: I give up. After having been proven wrong time and time again, I can no longer say I dislike war movies. Just as ‘foreign’ is not much of a genre, neither is ‘war’. Maybe I’m still not big on WWII era films (I’m sure I’ll be proven wrong soon), but Vietnam era films will always be a source of fascination with me.

Apocalypse Now is great for so many reasons- the acting, the soundtrack, the cinematography, everything. I was hooked from the first scene and felt a little disappointed when it was over because I could’ve watched it for several hours. I especially loved the mounting apprehension as the crew came closer to their encounter with Kurtz. And then actually finding Kurtz was every bit as evil and creepy as I had imagined it would be. As insane as he was, his fortress or compound or whatever it was called practically screamed, ‘This is what war really is’.

Which leads me back to the beginning where I admit that I don’t hate war movies. I don’t enjoy the killing and technical talk, but I do love a movie with a deeper meaning. Like most high schoolers I was forced to read ‘Heart of Darkness’, which this movie is based on. I remember hating it, not because it was hard to read (it wasn’t), but because I couldn’t identify with it. In fact, the only thing I remember from that whole book is the phrase ‘British Imperialism’, which I am too lazy to find out if that was the meaning or not. But Apocalypse Now totally means something to me, that as pithy as it sounds- war is hell. I loved the exploration of sanity and how someone could go so far away and yet still make logical sense in the context of war. War makes everyone a little insane and it changes you. As Captain Willard said at the beginning, ‘When I was here, I wanted to be there’ when I was there, all I could think about was getting back to the jungle’.


Final review: 5/5. Because of course.

Up next: Wild Reeds

3 responses to “#113- Apocalypse Now

  1. Peter B ⋅

    I probably shouldn’t be saying this, but I like Apocalypse Now better than Heart of Darkness, too. At the same time I think the source material makes it so much more than a war film. The movie is not so much about Vietnam as it is about the depths to which we all can descend when really pushed.

    A lot of people say that when Willard reaches Kurtz there is no clear message, and Brando is given no direction. As if the film would have been better if a character had actually voiced the sentiment that war is bad. And when Brando gives his speech about the inoculated arms, he is clearly giving Willard the push that Willard needs to kill him. I do not understand how this movie was made with so much ad-libbing and so much chaos surrounding the production, because it really is a masterpiece.

  2. Pingback: #128- Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse | 1001 Movie Nights

  3. Pingback: #266- Full Metal Jacket | 1001 Movie Nights

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