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This is a review of the dvd Apocolypse Now Redux. The film came out orginally in 1979 and I saw it at the cinema back then. The Redux version is the same film but with added minutes of footage included in the film itself, not as a bonus feature.
The story of Apocolypse now is about a Captain Benjamin L Willard (played by Martin Sheen) who has just finished a tour of Vietnam, he is given a mission to go back into Nam and then make his way into Cambodia to find and assassinate a special forces Colonel Walter E Kurtz who they say has gone insane and it causing a lot of trouble.
Captain Willard finds he is to join the crew of a small boat which is commanded by George Phillips (played by Abert Hall). Also on the boat are three other men, Lance Johnson (Sam Bottoms), Jay Hicks (Frederic Forrest) and Tyrone Miller (Laurence Fishburne). They have to make their way down the Nung River through Vietnam and into Cambodia. The crew do not know what the mission entails or where they are eventually going, only Willard knows.
When I first watched the film in the cinema I thought it was quite long and very slow going, the way it has been filmed makes it seem even slower as the boat is just drifting down the river and everything seems to take a long time to happen. The war scenes have slow music played through them and there is no urgency about any of it, very laid back. When I watched the film again on the dvd I didn't realise at first that it had added extra minutes included in the film as I had not heard of the work Redux (still haven't) so thought it was just going to be the film I saw but maybe re mastered, but it wasn't. What was originally released as a long drawn out film (153 mins) was now an even longer drawn out film (202 minutes).
I think I would have rather seen the original film again as it was when I saw it at the cinema, although it was a long and sometimes drawn out affair it was a good story and was brilliantly shot, with lots of dramatic scenes. The Redux version just seemed really boring in places and a lot of the extra bits added on didn't have any relevance to the story as such and could have been left out. I watched the dvd with my OH and he got bored with it after nearly two hours of watching and I must say I struggled to see the rest of it as I just kept thinking "get on with it then".
The cover of the dvd shows a list of actors in the film which is a bit misleading as the main character in the film was played by Martin Sheen (and brilliantly played), but it also gives Harrison Ford's name who did appear in the film but he only had a very minor part (Colonel Lucas) that lasted about 5 or 10 minutes so anyone expecting a film with him in would have been disappointed.
Marlon Brando played Kurtz, he played the part well although he didn't really need to do much acting as it looked like he was just being himself and a lot of his parts were played sitting or lying down.
Also in the film were Robert Duvall (Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore) and Dennis Hopper (Photojournalist). These two were also only in the film for a little while, the main characters were the ones in the boat and I thought these should have been the names on the front of the dvd.
The film is directed by Francis Ford Coppola and it is rated a 18 in the UK.
The only extra you get on the dvd is the theatrical trailer which is a bit of a let down, I think they would have been better off having the original movie on the dvd with the extra scenes added as a bonus so that you could watch them if you wanted to. I would recommend if you want to see this film at its best then buy the original film and not the redux version.
The Vietnam War did exactly what the Second World War did in terms of cinema: resulted in a wave of films with it as the central focus. Some dealt with the actual war itself, putting the action in amongst a bunch of characters, even focusing on some real events, while others looked at the psychological impact, whether it be during or after the war. Films such as Platoon are regarded as the best if you want a depiction of action during the war, with Kubrick's Full Metal Jacket giving us the whole thing from recruitment to front line and beyond, while The Deer Hunter can show the effects such a war can have on a man. This latter psychological post-war impact was also explored in films such as Taxi Driver, Born On The Fourth Of July and First Blood, where we see the difficulty of returning to normal civilised life following such a bitter and bloody conflict.
Where to place Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now in all this? The initial plot seems to be a bit of a thriller, with one man, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) being dispatched to stop with extreme prejudice the renegade actions of legendary Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). That it is done with the backdrop of the Vietnam War all around as the setting makes this more of a war film, but it is so much more than that. It is a study of man. The opening scene itself, in which The Doors' The End echoes around the screen in a haunting fashion, sees Martin Sheen on a drug induced wind down after a tour, and is riveting in itself. The acting initially appears to be excellent, but reports since have said that there was no acting: Sheen was actually under the influence and was spinning out. Coppola just let the camera roll and used the best footage.
As the film goes on, pieces of the Vietnam War trickle through as various characters come and go. There's Coppola's niggle at the bureaucracy as the three pencil pushers give Willard his mission (including a very young Harrison Ford), followed by the emergence of the rather gung ho excellence of Robert Duvall's Colonel Kilgore. An apt name if ever there was, it mocks the psychological concept by making the character view surfing above all else, and indeed it's through promises of swell and 6 foot waves deep in the Vietnamese war zone that Kilgore agrees to take Willard and his boat crew through to the start of their journey along the fictitious Nung River. Duvall's famous line 'I love the smell of napalm in the morning' is often quoted on its own, and is seen as a brilliant example of the character's hardened gung ho attitude, but the way Duvall delivers it is priceless: it's contemplative, almost as if he feels an explanation for how he acts is needed. It's another psychological element, as it reminds him of a victory he was involved in. I would imagine it's things like this that could keep someone going through when faced with such devastation and death.
Once we get to it, the river itself is a bit of metaphor for Coppola's intentions with the film. Reports suggest that he was unsure of where the film was going, and when it was going to finish and in what fashion, and for the crew accompanying Willard, it's pretty much the same. As it's a classified mission where one man is essentially sent to assassinate one of his own, the boat crew are kept in the dark. They're just motoring down the river with no knowledge of where things are going. Willard knows for the most part, but not only does he still not have the complete picture, which eventually comes to him through a series of telegram reports in the field, but he also only reveals things to us, the viewer, when he has time to sit down on the tiny tug boat and we hear his thoughts.
Sheen does a fantastic job of giving us Willard, inside and out, and it's through the events that happen along the river that the majority of the characterisation is done. Being on such a small boat for such long periods of the film gives Coppola the chance to elaborate on these characters in a way that just didn't happen prior to it, for one reason or another. Perhaps the focus was on quirky characters such as Kilgore, and on setting the scene with voice overs from Sheen and mood lifters such as looking for surf! Either way, Sheen really comes to the fore once the slow trawl of looking for fuel and having stops here and there for food, recreation and to set foot on dry land. One of the first stops for them helps introduce 'Chef', a highly strung soldier who talks more than the rest of them. Everything he does is frantic, and Frederic Forest portrays the character excellently. He shows quite dramatically what can happen when you put an automatic weapon in the hands of someone whose nerves are already on the way out!
Also young and high on energy, although in a more trusting and naive fashion, is the 17 year old 'Clean', played by an almost unrecognisable Laurence Fishburne. His youthful energy is often the element of the group that is uplifting: he'll listen to the radio, start up conversation and keep things busy. Fishburne does a great job at 18 of playing such a character, the harshness of the situation occasionally breaking through the upbeat facade. In complete contrast, though, and fading into the background, is quite possibly the quirkiest and strangest inclusion for a small elite boat crew: Lance the surfer. After the initial scenes with Kilgore and the 'surf' promises, Lance's exuberance and normality fades away as the boredom of an enclosed space sees him resorting to spending the rest of the time in an experimental drug induced stupour. The occasional shot will have him doing things such as staring into space, not realising when someone is talking to him (which I feel is occasionally done just to remind us he's still there!) or doing something stupid like letting off a bright purple flare in a dangerous part of the river while announcing 'It's like purple haze!' Again, Coppola uses it as a method of drawing in events as they travel down the river.
Bringing the whole group into line is Chief, the pilot of the boat. An older head, he supplies the more meaningful conversation with Willard that reminds us that this is a war zone and that there is a sinister mission they're undertaking without any knowledge of it due to its classified status. As we get snippets of the facts and what Willard is heading into, the scene keeps flicking back to Chief, and Albert Hall's portrayal of the character develops as the film progresses, initially not fussed about knowing what they're doing, but becoming more and more resentful of Willard and his mission that's putting him and his crew, nay friends, at risk. A fine performance, which kind of draws all of the quirky characters together and provides an element of realism, sensibility and maturity to a group that clearly needs it.
It's only as events draw near to the end that we meet Marlon Brando's Colonel Kurtz, with a snappy interlude from Dennis Hopper as a frantic photojournalist providing a smooth link between the river journey and Willard's encounter with the legendary figure. I was fearful of an anticlimax, but luckily there's nothing of the sort. Coppola saves the best speeches and tense scenes for the end, with some really thought provoking acting from both Brando and Sheen making the film conclude on a high and not on a low as I had feared. Brando's shaved head and weary world wise look is supported by the surrounding natives who crowd him like a God, showing us that he is as much at home here as he ever was in America, his demeanour completely compelling and charismatic. His voice never raises, the expression on his face remains accepting and philosophical - a contented man or a man resigned to his fate? The message is that the war changes you, and what you realise as you get to the conclusion is that Willard himself has gone through changes and his outlook on life, the war and everything has also altered somewhat. Events along the river have harrowed him, and with Coppola ensuring that a random selection of occurrences such as meeting with Playboy Playmates, dining with the French, adopting a pet puppy and being chased by a tiger (all they wanted were some mangoes!) have kept this sort of hidden all the way through.
So I am loathe to say that this is purely a war film - it's not. It's certainly set with the Vietnam War as a backdrop, but it is more the study of how a man can change given the events that unfold before him. Coppola's direction was tested to the extreme here, as the film's conclusion was reported as being unclear. Indeed, the end credits were altered to have a mere black backdrop after the initial backdrop gave the wrong impression of a conclusion. The Redux version, which is considerably longer, has a few indulgent scenes, most notably the scene where the boat crew dine with the French (itself a rather confusing inclusion). There is a heated debate about politics, and it's quite interesting, although its relevance in the film doesn't really extend beyond making Willard think a bit about what he's doing. There are other inclusions in the Redux version, with clarifying lines such as Kilgore telling Lance to put some boardies on and extensions of existing scenes, and they all serve to give you quite a more encompassing involvement of the individual psychological elements. If you haven't seen that particular version, don't worry - it's not like the film makes any more or less sense with them. For die hard fans, though, there is some merit in giving it a go - there's well over half an hour of extra footage in it.
Billed as the best war film ever made, Apocalypse Now is a combination of many things making it a success story. It would certainly have helped with the pairing of Marlon Brando and Francis Ford Coppola reprising their partnership from the immensely successful and ground breaking The Godfather, widely regarded as the best film ever made; but it's Martin Sheen that comes away from this as the victor. Interestingly enough, the relationship between these three was frayed at best during filming, reports of Sheen turning up drunk or hallucinating, Brando piling on the pounds and Coppola hitting the roof wherever you look. However, it doesn't show on screen: what you get is a magical combination of a director with a vision and a cast with the chance to shine. Coppola's use of music such as the aforementioned The End and classical pieces such as Ride of the Valkyries, which is put to good effect as a series of choppers bomb an unsuspecting and virtually unguarded village, drive home the visual effects that his camera allows us to see. A lot of directors would limit the vision, allowing our minds to do a lot of the thinking, but Coppola gives us more than we want, in a way, and this shows us how it could be during a war - you see things you don't want to. I won't lie - at times this film can be harrowing. I jumped a couple times - flared missiles coming from nowhere and almost hitting the camera make you want to duck into the safety of your sofa, while a particular ritual scenes (assuredly ritual with the natives) isn't pleasant to watch at all. There is plenty of violence, swearing and the occasional nudity. It's a film that includes most elements of war, as well as a secret mission involving that phrase 'extreme prejudice' which is government speak for 'whatever you need to do to get it done'. It's not going to be pretty, but its filming and presentation is beautiful, from the opening scene with The Doors giving us a haunting feel before anything's happened, to the final words 'The horror' uttered by Willard before the credits roll. Powerful.
This is an epic Vietnam war film with no holds barred and a political message to match underneath it all. Of all the big Vietnam War films (The Deer Hunter, Platoon, Full Metal Jacket and this film), this is the one that shows the sheer scale of the war, as if it's from a Bird's Eye view at times. With some immensely huge action scenes, and some superb acting, this is one of the best war films of all time, even if the point if the film is sometimes lost or confused.
Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is an elite officer who has come back to Saigon because he struggled to adapt to America again. We learn quickly that he is a man who is given some of the most covert missions, and we're led to believe he has down missions for the CIA and MACV-SOG, which was a specialist covert operations unit. Willard has become a man who no longer knows who he is because of the war and he is in desperate need of a mission because he hates the waiting.
Finally, he is picked up and taken to command. Two intelligence officers, General Corman and Colonel Lucas (Harrison Ford) have a very secret mission for him. They explain that Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) has gone insane and is now commanding his own elite platoon of Montagnard troops from within Cambodia, and that they are committing serious crimes. Willard takes the job of having to 'terminate Kurtz with extreme prejudice'.
He is attached to a River Patrol and starts to move up the river. As he does, he sees a variety of different things and he meets a variety of different people that, along with the operation of killing Kurtz, are leaving him disillusioned.
One of the men he sees is Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall), who is himself becoming disillusioned with the war. In order for Willard to continue, he must be moved further upstream, and Kilgore's orders are to help him. The result is the iconic 'Ride of the Valkyries' attack on a village near to the river.
Willard then continues up stream, where everything just seems to get worse and worse for the American troops, leading to a very famous and thrilling climax with Marlon Brando's Colonel Kurtz that is mystifying and confusing, but ultimately satisfying.
This perhaps has the most action of just about any war film. It's just relentless in the build up towards the showdown between Willard and Kurtz. This really shows how big the war really was, and how much effort went into it.
Director Francis Ford Coppola does try to add a political message at times, but it doesn't do much for the film, as I often find the political messages detract from what really matters. But he more than makes up for it and the somewhat mystifying ending with some immense action and iconic moments, along with a methodical, atmospheric and tense build up to the climax.
This is Martin Sheen's role of a lifetime, and also boasts Robert Duvall's role of a lifetime as well. The scenes in which they are both involved are hugely memorable with some classic lines and some iconic moments. It also boasts Harrison Ford in a subtle but pivotal role, and Marlon Brando in his last, best role in film.
Apocolypse Now is for me the ultimate film about the Vietnam war. At the time it was suggested Francis Ford Coppola had lost his mind in the jungle (his wife's documentary Heart of Darkness tells us a lot about this) but it is still one of the most energetic, claustrophobic films about modern warfare ever.
Based on the classic Joseph Conrad's classic story "Heart of Darkness" it moved the premise from the Congo into the the Vietnam War.
The film follows the young, disillusioned Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) on a secret upriver mission to find and kill the mercenary Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who is in a state of utter insanity caused by the horrors he has seen and the madness of the situation.
We follow Willard as we see the full horrors of this horrific war, with helicopter battles set to Wagner, through to the unplanned murder of Vietnamese Villagers.
The film is a tour-de-force with memorable characters, lines and stories, will Willard find Kurtz and kill this crazed American who has turned native or will he find that Kurtz is perhaps not as crazy as we all think and is perhaps the most sane American in the jungle?
Redux is Francis Ford Coppolla's own directors version of the film, unlike the cinematic release which he was unhappy with this includes an awful lot of extra stuff and really recreates the pain and madness of the era, as well as the pain and madness that perhaps went into making this film!!
Marlon Brando ... Colonel Walter E. Kurtz
Martin Sheen ... Captain Benjamin L. Willard
Robert Duvall ... Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore
Frederic Forrest ... Jay 'Chef' Hicks
Sam Bottoms ... Lance B. Johnson
Laurence Fishburne ... Tyrone 'Clean' Miller (as Larry Fishburne)
Albert Hall ... Chief Phillips
Harrison Ford ... Colonel Lucas
Dennis Hopper ... Photojournalist
G.D. Spradlin ... General Corman
Jerry Ziesmer ... Jerry, Civilian
Scott Glenn ... Lieutenant Richard M. Colby
Bo Byers ... MP Sergeant #1
James Keane ... Kilgore's Gunner
Kerry Rossall ... Mike from San Diego
The original film is accepted as a classic, one which was made in difficult circumstances and caused the crew and actors undoubted difficulties.
20 years after its release, the director Francis Ford Coppola watched it on television and realised that this ground breaking, strange film now looked fairly conventional and didn't tell the story to its best.
In 2001 he re-edited the film with Walter Murch they added entire sequences, lengthened others (adding 49 minutes to the 139-minute running time), and scrounged up unused music composed by Coppola's late father (although in fairness this music whilst unconventional does sound very dated).
This isn't just a re-release with the off added scene, it is almost a different film, some scenes add to the incredible claustrophobic jungle atmosphere and create the enclosed paranoia to greater levels, one particular scene which does add value to the film, is when Willard swaps some diesel for some time with the Playboy Bunnies who have arrived to lift morale, one bunny launches into a really touching monologue about how she is simply a tool for sexual fantasies, rather than being a person, this is touching and very good as the image and the dialogue don't match at all and it fits with the image of the film perfectly, not everything is what it is perceived.
The additional scenes with Kurtz are brilliant, Brando is fantastic and really develops more to his personality and our understanding of his motivations. The one addition which doesn'tadd anything is the French Plantation scene where we see a plantation with few workers run by French Aristocrats still living their civilised French lives in the face of anarchy, it is too long and doesn't fit with the rest of the film, taking emphasis away from the war, I understand why it was added but it doesn't make the film any better.
For me this is a good film, it is too long, and there are questionable scenes but it is still one of the great cinematic experiences, Coppola and the crew went through a lot to make this film as the documentary "Heart of Darkness" by Coppola's wife shows, the film is great for afficionado's of the original, but if you've not seen either I'd recommend watching the original first.
The DVD is £5.68 at Amazon and included deleted scenes.
In my eyes, Apocalypse Now is comfortably the best Vietnam film that I have seen, though this is slightly irrelevant. It does not focus at all on the military side of the Vietnam. Similarly, it is not a patronising look at the failings of the war, much unlike a few Hollwood 'Nam films which would follow - Apocalypse Now gives across the message of the sheer madness which is needed to get involved in such a thing.
The plot is loosely based off Joseph Conrad's Heart Of Darkness, with Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) being sent up river to find and assassinate/capture one Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has seemingly gone completely insane and assembled an army of tribesmen and soldiers in Cambodia. Though the plot of the film is relatively miniscule, the film perfectly holds your attention and awe for the whole of the three hours and 20 minutes running time (the Redux cut length) as we witness a barrage of attacks - most famously, the helicopter sequence set to "Ride of the Valkyries" by Wagner.
Apocalypse Now, as I said before, does not focus on the point of view of the soldiers and their difficulties faced by their morals and such. Instead, by using a huge amount of money (which surpassed the budget by a long way - Coppola had to dig deep into his own pockets to find the funds to finish the film) to show the animalistic nature of the war, Coppola treats us to various images of destruction - a peaceful and beautiful country such as Vietnam being bombarded with bombings and gunfire.
Aside from Sheen and Brando (who received a huge fee despite his small and darkened role), Robert Duvall leaves the biggest impression in terms of performance. His role as Kilgore is memorable, portraying an oddball Lieutenant Colonel who seems to want to attack everything in sight whilst barely noticing attacks on him. It is, however, the cinematography that shines brightest. With Vittorio Storaro in charge (who shot films such as The Conformist and Reds in his career), we are treated to multiple iconic moments, from the opening with The Doors' "The End" playing over an attacked forest area to the montage at the end.
With the original 153 minute cut often seen as being more of an experience than a film, the Redux cut further enhances this view, though it does sometimes ruin the flow of the film as the activities of Willard are placed in between shots of the landscapes of 'Nam.
Note: this is an adaptation of a University essay I wrote on Apocalypse Now in 2008. It compares the film with Joseph Conrad's novel "Heart of Darkness" upon which the film was based.
"The film of a novel is a new text. Part of what makes it new is its departure from the original. Part of what makes it new is its conformity to the conventions of the new form, the film."
- Karin Littau
Whilst a filmic adaptation of a written text may retain the same themes, characters and narrative structure as its source material, it is nevertheless a new text. Translating a text to the medium of film invites a wealth of alterations, if only to begin with the fact that film utilises a more diverse, visually rich palette for its audience to subsume. Merely by film's existence as a visual commodity, this is true - by the simple transition of medium, a filmic translation of a novel, play, or comic book is an entirely new text. What bolsters this is the manner in which such texts adhere to the conventions of this new medium - the film.
Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now (1979) is, undeniably, a substantial departure from Joseph Conrad's original novella, Heart of Darkness. Whilst Coppola was strongly inspired by Conrad and "selectively draws on narrative and thematic elements from Heart of Darkness", Apocalypse Now's screenplay differs significantly from Conrad's narrative. Conrad's text chronicles Marlow's journey into the heart of the African jungle to gather information on the psychotic ivory agent Kurtz, whilst Coppola's film transpires during the Vietnam War, whereby our renamed protagonist, Willard, is charged with locating and eliminating Kurtz "with extreme prejudice".
In Conrad's novella, as Marlow arrives at the company offices at the Outer Station, he meets a smartly dressed accountant - a wild contrast to the dying Africans outside in the "Grove of Death". Whilst Marlow converses with the accountant, a sick man can be heard groaning in proximity, and this seems to irk the accountant, who proclaims "the groans of this sick person...distract my attention. And without that it is extremely difficult to guard against clerical errors in this climate". Furthermore, he states "when one has got to make correct entries, one comes to hate those savages- hate them to death". However, one must consider who, in fact, the savages are. Whilst the accountant, as representative of the Europeans, appears civilized with his dapper appearance, his heart is blackened by the reality of the European conception of civilization - a disparate notion compared to the idyllic European conception of such.
This separation between what is idealised and what is realised is similarly explored in Apocalypse Now, with the character of Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, who appears to resemble the accountant in Heart of Darkness. Kilgore orders the destruction of a Vietcong village in order for himself and his soldiers to surf the beach waves. As Kilgore and his men land following the bombing of the village, he declares the now-classic line "I love the smell of napalm in the morning". This utterance, as with the accountant's agitation due to the sick men around him, indicates a certain obliviousness, or apathy towards the plight of those around him. Both Kilgore and the accountant are percieved as being civilised - Kilgore an upstanding soldier, and the accountant a successful, contributory member to society, yet both commit inhumane acts towards seemingly innocent individuals in order to further their own causes. Just as the accountant deems the sick men to be "savages", Kilgore, following the deaths of several of his men, deems the Vietcong to be "fucking savages", seemingly oblivious of his own savagery.
Such comparisons would seek to challenge the opening quotation to a degree - yes, the film is a new medium, yet the core values appear to be retained. Nonetheless, it is important to consider the filmic values which cause it to become recognised as a new text - the adherence to the codes and conventions of the film form. For example, Apocalypse Now's aforementioned sequence, whereby Kilgore bombs a Vietcong village, employs the use of cinematic techniques which cannot, through the constraints of the written form, be presented in Conrad's novella. Coppola envisions the Vietcong village as a peaceful locale, elicited by a steady panning shot from left to right, with little diegetic sound, and a complete absence of non-diegetic sound, as a means of better cementing the tranquility of the village prior to the attack. The diegetic use of Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries", signaling the approach of Kilgore's fleet, causes chaos to ensue, usurping a seeming utopia - the villagers become frenzied, as Copolla cuts back to the helicopters approaching, utilising a high angle shot in order to convey the scale of the attack. In doing so, Coppola achieves a transition to a "sharply opposite quality". That is to say, Ride of the Valkyries is initially used to accentuate the contrast between the peaceful village and the gung-ho soldiers, and it then seeks to violently bring these two worlds together. The audiovisual texture of this scene is highly complex, in that the use of diegetic sound is visually enhanced by the camera, which "follows the rhythms of the Wagner scene, modulating from long shots of the helicopters to various medium and close shots, and back to the extreme long shots". In meticulously combining a range of filmic devices, Coppola is able to display the attack as an exertion of power on the part of Kilgore and his men. His use of an audiovisual palette hereby illustrates, in ubiquitous fashion, the "inherent absurdity and immorality" of the attack.
This harmonisation of the aural and visual is what ultimately distinguishes the gravity of Kilgore's ambivalence from that of the accountant's. The grandiose visual spectacle of the attack reinforces our perception of Kilgore as a man lacking affect, whilst in Conrad's novella, our conception of the accountant is decidedly more underlying. Coppola's use of vast, sweeping shots over the horizon as the triumphant Ride of the Valkyries plays telegraphs an intended irony within the text - Kilgore sees honour in what he is doing, yet viewers can ascertain that this is a heinous attack.
Coppola's use of "spatial interplay" in order to reinforce his point, in combining long shots and close ups as the helicopters attack, is said to be fundamental to the structure of the narrative fiction film. In Orson Welles' The Trial (1962), the exclusive use of long shots causes the viewer to perceive individuals on screen as "moving figures without any real identity". However, in utilising this "camera focalisation", the film medium can "brilliantly virtualise both what is distant and what is near, and it can present not only external but also internal perspective", something which the written form often cannot, or through upholding literary conventions, does not.
Whilst Kilgore is unassailably crude, he is not without his admirable traits. It certainly cannot be argued that Kilgore's war strategy, as well as his general disposition, exude the utmost confidence and sense of brotherhood, with Willard himself proclaiming "He wasn't a bad officer, I guess. He loved his boys, and we felt safe with him". Furthermore, even following the destruction of one of his helicopters by a villager, Kilgore still allows a Vietnamese mother and child to seek refuge aboard an American helicopter. However, it is certainly not true to say that the film medium allows a greater means of character development, but what film does is provide room for greater exploration of aesthetic motifs which, in turn, bolster the resonance of a given scene. Thus, it has been said that a key feature of Apocalypse Now's highly effective narrative frame is its "complex audiovisual texture". A written text can only describe the Ride of the Valkyries sequence to us, without levying the visceral impact of the attack with as great effect. Ostensibly, a written text can describe the brutality of a scene - the desecrated corpses, the burning flesh, but film lends a recognisable name and face to such instances, a paradigm which is distinctly more resonant when two textual forms (the written and the moving image) are compared. A written text will engage the mind, whilst a filmic text arouses the visual and aural senses, as well as the imagination (albeit to a lesser extent than writing).
Furthermore, the idea of "performance" as giving depth to a character (which would otherwise be diluted in the translation to another medium) cannot be ignored. Robert Duvall was nominated for the "Best Supporting Actor" award at the 1979 Academy Awards for his performance as Kilgore, and it has been said that Duvall "manages to portray Kilgore as credible in spite of his insanity". The film medium, in allowing such iconic performances, further distinguishes itself from the comparatively restricted written form. One may read a written text and attain a mental portrait of a character, yet cinema provides a distinct conception of such. It is worth considering, however, that this new form, in of itself, may be deemed "restrictive", in that it can be seen to provide a closed reading of a character, inviting little thought or imagination from the reader. Such an idea is recognised in the "hypodermic needle model", whereby it is suggested that a media product (such as a film) "infuses a direct and strategic" message into an individual, and that the majority of individuals will accept the dominant reading as opposed to seeking their own thoughtful one. This can be seen as one of the criticisms of the film form.
It is incumbent to challenge the opening quote once again - yes, adherence to the conventions of the new form are part of what makes it new, yet in 2009, whereby independent cinema is gaining pre-eminence, and adventurous directors are given greater room to express their vision, what are the conventions? Furthermore, an abstract, derivative interpretation of a written text, perhaps with a surrealist expression (such as David Lynch's adaptation of Dune ), would serve to further become a new text. In Lynch taking Frank Herbert's novel and transposing it unto a new medium, and further contorting it to coincide with his artistic vision, Lynch has created a work that is a "meta-form" of the original text.
It is also important to consider the ideological differentiation that is caused by converting a text to a new medium. It has been said of Conrad's text that "there is certainly good reason to believe that Marlow, and Heart of Darkness as a whole, imply that blacks are savages who are incapable of understanding Western knowledge and technology". Also, Nigerian novelist Chinua Achebe claimed that "his treatment of the Congolese people was offensively stereotyped and unsympathetic", deeming Conrad a "bloody racist". These supposed values within Heart of Darkness do not transpire into Apocalypse Now - the Vietnamese people, whilst residing in primitive locales, are presented as victims. Thus, Coppola's own ideology has permeated into his work, and this, in itself, is an attribute of the film form - a film carries with it the doctrinal principles of its creator.
As a new form, Apocalypse Now exists as a text that is "on rather than of a Conradian text...a selective magnification of the surrealistic, ruthlessly prophetic aspects of the original". Furthermore, the filmic complexity of Apocalypse Now constitutes a "parallel to the literary complexity of Heart of Darkness". Whilst it can be asserted that Conrad's text was composed from both life experiences and his own literary creativity, Apocalypse Now, as a final product, is characterised by its lengthy and troubled production (as seen in the documentary Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse ). Even as a new text, plagued with its own problems, the idea of "thematic opposition" identifies a commonality between the two texts, that "the problems probed by Conrad...are transposed by Coppola to another time and place in order to be further explored through his medium of film". Apocalypse Now is notable for its highly unique and effective means by which it visually captures events, characters and action, and these attributes characterise what makes this film form "new". Cinematographer Vittorio Storaro wished to, within the film form, "express the main idea of Conrad, which is the imposition of one culture on top of another", and in lieu of Orson Welles' unsuccessful attempt to veraciously adapt Heart of Darkness in 1939, Coppola's artistically derivative effort remains thematically faithful to Conrad, and in this, the new form, whereby it is impossible for a director not to administer their own form of autership to a text, this is an acceptable digression.
Apocalypse Now Redux- Directed by Francis Ford Coppola (The Godfather) nominated for seven academy awards and winner of two (Best Cinematography and Best Sound),is set in the Vietnam War 1969.
U.S Army Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) is sent on a mission that does not exist and will never be made public to anyone. Should he die on his mission, they will not come looking for him.
It's a case of highly experienced yet burnt out Soldier against a highly decorated, renegade, AWOL Soldier Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando). You can see why Francis Coppola used Brando in this second successive film after the Godfather. The acting is pure brilliance and each scene gives the viewer a look into life in the destructive Vietnam War.
I have seen this film at least 4 times and I never tire of it. However the original film was over 6 hours long and had to be severely edited to make it viewable and keep the audience captured, which I think it does brilliantly. Apocalypse Now Redux (this version) is the newer reedited version with more scenes added from the original and is around 3hrs 20 long.
For me the ending is just baffling and add's to the excitement of the film. I would recommend this film to all War/Action/Brando fans.
I have never seen Apocolypse now in any form, be it the original theatrical release, the redux version or the bootleg extended version ( running nearly 5 HOURS !! )
But i've had this in my collection for a while so being off work sick recently I sat down to watch it.
The time is 1969, the Vietnam war is at its peak and Capt Benjamin Willard ( Martin Sheen ) has returned to Saigon after realising returning to America was a bad idea and civilian life is not for him, he is approached with a special mission, to journey up the Nung River into Cambodia and " Terminate the Command" of Colonel Walter E Kurtz ( Marlon Brando ) who is believed to have gone insane and issuing orders that are against the armys protocols.
The subsequent majority of the 3 hours of the movie is spent following Willard's journey up the river in a PBR Boat with a ragtag group of soldiers ( including a young Laurence Fishburne, who lied about his age and started filming at 14 years of age, although filming took so long he ended up being 17 years old when filming completed, which ironically is the age of his character in the movie ).
One excellent scene early on is when Willards group come across the Eccentric LT.Colonel Bill Killgore ( Robert Duvall ) and his air cavalry squadron, with some cowboy tactics under their belts and including the famous scene where the helicopters attack a beach set to Wagners " Ride of the Valkyries" and ending with the famous phrase " I love the smell of Napalm in the morning"
You can't argue with the acting in this movie and with the cultural effect this movie has had, its an epic ( especially in Redux form ) some of the photography and scenes are a little out there but its all meant to capture the insanity of the Vietnam war, and by the time Willard gets to Kurtz you're truly left wondering if he will complete his mission or if he will join the Colonel.
Don't expect a switch your brain off, quick fix movie. This is one where you'll be in for the long haul..but if you're truly a movie buff you have to watch this movie.
I had concerns about Apocalypse Now: Redux, when it was first announced - to the point where I decided not to go and see it for its limites run in the cinema. I mean, how can you improve upon a masterpiece? I waited a long time until it was available for a budget release on DVD and finally relented with a, "What the hell? Why not?" Did I regret it? In short - no. The film was just as good as the original cut of it. Dare I say, even better? I know there are a lot of naysayers out there who would probably string me up but I thought this reworking with an extra forty plus minutes was a phenomenal five star affair. It somehow even manages to feel shorter to me somehow. There are some great moments in here (like meeting up with the playboy girls again) that, while you can understand that you could have done without them, just lended something to the myth of the movie. A must watch for anyone who remotely rated the original.
t took almost 5 years to complete and in the end looked as though it might have benefitted from a few more months in the cutting room Apocalypse Now remains part brilliant part maddeningly infuriating.
The film is in part beautiful to see, yet in part awful to watch. There are brilliant acting performances part obscured by excessively dark direction and areas of acting weakness only saved by the grand sweep of the picture. The film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola who won Oscars for the first 2 Godfather films.
The film was an updated version of Joseph Conrads Heart Of Darkness and featured Marlon Brando as a renegade soldier, Colonel Kurtz, who has gone native becoming a hugely dangerous and mad soldier. Brando only appears in the half-light but his performance is as huge as his frame. He is full of menace and yet attracts some sympathy by quoting works of poetry. Kurtz is pursued into the jungle by a Captain Willard (Martin Sheen). Sheen is edgy and full of emotion. Totally sucked into the war he is a massive character. The film also features Robert Duvall as Lt-Colonel Kilgore who as his name suggests is as crazy as Kurtz but remains on the right side. Madness forgiven. Duvall as usual gives a superb performance as the steely demagogue. Alongside these is Dennis Hopper who gives his usual semi-mad performance seen in Speed and Waterworld.
The film was made in the Philippines and features in the helicopter gunship sequence one of the most memorable war action sequences in cinema history. Set to Wagners Ride Of The Valkyries it features lasting images of savagery not matched in the cinema to date. There are huge panoramas in the film shot in a seemingly unreal light which adds to the sense that this is not the real world. The film gives the viewer these images and yet still enables the viewer to add to it with their imagination. It is a film you do not so much as watch as experience. There are huge numbers of extras deployed in weird jungle costumes, there are massive pyrotechnics. Visually and artistically it is a treat, sadly as a total work it is not.
There are also parallels in the film that invoke a view that this is the Vietnam War through a particular view. That view is best described as the war as a mind bending experience. Whether this is through drugs or through the effects of stress of the psyche is not clear. This is though not a film which follows the usual conventions of a war film such as Saving Private Ryan. Whilst similarly brutal in some of its images Saving Private Ryan has a beginning , a middle and an end. Apocalypse Now has a beginning and then meanders around before the final credits appear. At over 2 and a half hours it is just too long. The brilliance of some of the performances only serves to underline the feeling that the end result is a series of fantastic yet unconnected scenes. However brilliantly those scenes are done the end result is less than perfect.
I had a little bit of a Vietnam phase recently - I watched Platoon (which was excellent) then Full Metal Jacket (which I don't think I really understood properly), and I taped this off TV soon after. However, due to one thing and another, there was a long gap between watching those and finally getting round to seeing Apocalypse Now. Fortunately, it was worth the wait.
It starts as it means to go on - the opening scene is haunting and brilliant, with the sound of helicopters flying and a montage of a jungle being blown up - all photographed in a dusty yellow light with some music from The Doors to really evoke a sense of the time.
We then see Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) going crazy with boredom in his Saigon hotel room. Drunk, dishevelled and disheartened, he longs to go on another mission. Luckily, his requests are answered, and he is assigned a very important and strictly confidential task.
In the jungles of Cambodia, Willard is to track down and "terminate with extreme prejudice" a man named Colonel Kurtz (played by Marlon Brando). A brilliant American commander with a glittering career, Kurtz has gone insane and been charged with the murder of four Vietnamese intelligence workers. He's also become the leader of a group of loyal fighters, who have been brainwashed into following his every command.
Willard sets off on his assignment, along the way working with Lieutenant Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall) and his men, who enjoy a spot of surfing when they're not busy destroying Vietnamese villages with their helicopters. He also gets on board a navy boat to travel down the river into the jungle, along the way encountering danger lurking at every corner, and all the time reading and learning more about this mysterious man, as well as seeing the true horrors of war at first hand.
Apocalypse Now is a masterpiece on every level. For a story which at its basic level is extremely simple, it develops into something deeply philosophical and really makes you think about the effects of war on a man's mind.
The action scenes and photography are just astonishing, especially considering this film was made 28 years ago. The scene early on in which Willard meets Kilgore amidst a chaotic scene of helicopters and swirling clouds of smoke and dust is spectacular, only to be well and truly trumped by the classic scene in which a band of helicopters destroy a village to the sound of Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries. Utterly visceral, thrilling and technically incredible, whilst also raising moral issues, this is as good as action sequence as you could hope for, even today.
The performances are superb all round - Martin Sheen (who obviously kept reminding of Charlie Sheen in Platoon all the way through, much to my distraction) is great, as is the Oscar-nominated Robert Duvall as the worryingly psychotic lieutenant. His classic line, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" is both humorous and frightening, and as a character he's equally ambiguous - we don't know whether to like him or be disgusted by his actions, or maybe both.
Finally, there is the late great Marlon Brando, who dominates the screen in the short time he's on it, and even when he's not. There's a point early on where Willard listens to a recording of Colonel Kurtz, and you can see why he becomes obsessed with finding this man - Brando's voice is just so unique and mesmerising. When we finally do get to see him, he is eerily sinister - lurking in the shadows, spouting poetry, and once again being ambiguous: is he really as insane as we thought, or is he just acting as anyone would do under the circumstances?
While we're on it, the final part of Apocalypse Now develops into something completely different from the gung-ho war action of the first two hours. As Willard spends more time in the jungle, he begins to feel the horrors of war (and the influence of drugs) affecting his mindset, and the film becomes increasingly disturbing and visually striking. The lighting and photography in the final twenty minutes is some of the most incredible I've ever seen, and combined with mysterious editing and an atmospheric soundtrack, it's a truly haunting and memorable piece of cinema.
Finally, the conclusion is indicative of the rest of the film: dark, thought-provoking, unforgettable and brilliant.
Apocalypse Now began as I expected, as an excellent war movie, possibly even better than I'd hoped for. However, by the end, I had been transported to something totally unexpected and mind-blowing. I was transfixed and in awe of this surreal blend of sound, visuals and ideas. Despite its long running time (two and a half hours) I was gripped and excited all the way through. I won't lie and say that the time flew by (two and a half hours just doesn't fly by no matter how much you're enjoying it) but it never dragged either; I felt the film was perfectly paced.
Wow, what can I say about this film? It blew me away. I came into it expecting something along the lines of Platoon, and for the most part it was quite similar, but the two films can't compare. Apocalypse Now is right up there amongst the greatest films I've ever seen. It's a true spectacle; a treat for the senses with an excellent story to boot - to my mind, Francis Ford Coppola's best film.
Even if you don't particularly like war films, I'd urge you to see this masterpiece.
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You can buy the original Apocalypse Now or the director's cut, Apocalypse Now: Redux, both for under £5 from www.amazon.co.uk. I haven't seen the Redux edition, and I don't own the dvd; this is a review of the film itself.
Directed by: Francis Ford Coppola
Marlon Brando ... Colonel Kurtz
Robert Duvall ... Lieutenant Kilgore
Martin Sheen ... Captain Willard
Dennis Hopper ... Photo Journalist
Laurence "Larry" Fishbourne ... Tyrone Miller
Classification: 18 (disturbing violent images, language, sexual content and some drug use)
Running time: 153 minutes
My rating: 10/10
Hollywood was always very critical of American policy in Vietnam. The range of films produced over the twenty years following US withdrawal from the conflict showed the warfare in a cynical light, whether it be the internal corruption of Platoon, or the psychological horrors of the Deer Hunter. What is to be noted, however, is that there is a considerable difference between the films regarding Vietnam of the 80s to those of the 70s. In the earlier decade, a decade where the shame of America's defeat constantly echoed, the films were highly unique and very focused on the psychology of the conflict, rather than the technicalities of the fighting. The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now are the two films that encapsulate this attitude. Indeed, Francis Ford Coppola's meticulously constructed Apocalypse Now is undeniable in its sheer power and the pure horror it evokes, and still, in all its glory, remains one of the finest works of modern cinema.
The film is loosely adapted from Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness, a story set in the 19th century following a man's exploits up the Congo River to kill an Englishman who has established his own kingdom amongst the natives. Rather than 19th century colonial Africa, Coppola takes the fresh and untouched topic of Vietnam to provide the setting for a story of a similar nature. Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) is a seasoned soldier, given a classified mission by the powers that be to terminate the command of a war hero, Colonel Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has apparently gone insane, setting up an anarchic settlement deep in the Cambodian jungle. Willard then embarks on a gruelling journey up the Nung River with a small escort, where he makes many strange and intriguing encounters with various personalities in various environments. The structure of Apocalypse Now is a lot like Homer's Odyssey; a step-by-step journey of revelation. Coppola never allows the film to be particularly constrained by its loose plot, instead making the viewer truly grasp the emotions and the atmosphere abound, and also appreciate the horror of Vietnam. Much like the plot, Apocalypse Now is difficult to categorise when talking about it,
Apocalypse Now is a film in every sense of the word. In its many varied sequences, it engages us with superb acting, astounding visuals, pumping sound and fitting music. It is a piece of pure cinema and the way in which Coppola makes the source novel Heart of Darkness his own is truly a great accomplishment. The film is made so beautifully, that you can practically feel everything that Coppola bombards us with on screen. One can truly feel the humidity of the climate, the flies buzzing as they rush past, smell the overgrown shrubbery of the riverbank. It's a piece of the purest cinema, an experience as much as it is a drama, a film where one gets a strong feel for the absolute chaos of the war. Indeed, Apocalypse Now was notoriously a chaotic film with regard to production, a project that started in 1976 but wasn't released until 1979. The result of the gruelling making of the film is something that is meticulously constructed, yet somehow disorganised, which is appropriate for the period in which it's set. Psychology oozes from the characters, and Martin Sheen's Captain Willard becomes our centre-of-consciousness, the medium through which this horrible, frightening and surreal images are being thrown at us. And the deeper the little plastic patrol boat goes down the murky, meandering green-brown Nung River, the more surreal and bizarre everything becomes, clearly not something for the light of heart. Pretty much every scene is memorable, and there's never a feeling of repetition.
But the feeling the film omits is down to several factors. Vittorio Storaro's cinematography is absolutely stunning, consistent throughout, whether it be the outstreched jungle bathed in liquid gold twilight, or the glowing river, flat and calm, winding and snaking through the landscape, or the humid, shadowy accode of Kurtz. The editing, similarly, works exceedingly well, with Coppola also manipulating the music to tie in with the editing, which ties in perfectly with the intensity of the moment. It truly captures the madness and the horror of the Vietnam war, and how damaged many of the soldiers are. The linear structure also works to the benefit of the film, because Apocalypse Now is a film of revelation; as Willard is being briefed by his superiors at the start of the movie, we understand that Kurtz has gone insane. But as Willard travels up river, getting ever closer, trawling through Kurtz's dossier, we begin to question the judgement of the American generals safely behind their own lines in Saigon. Like Willard, the viewer feels loyalty to his army, but when placed at the frontline, where civilians are murdered by either side, and Communists and capitalists forget their ideology in their fierce struggle for survival, the reality can be very different. Indeed, Willard's encounter with Kurtz takes on an almost Shakespearean aura, and there, so far in the jungle one might as well be on the Moon, the viewer comes to understand what insanity is. On this Odyssey, the viewer has travelled so far behind enemy lines it's as if we've gone beyond the edges of the Universe, and things become distorted and surreal, and completely terrifying and mystical.
Apocalypse Now has a great diversity in its cast and characters. Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, and Scott Glenn all mark the screen with acting brilliance and charisma (albeit often blink-and-miss roles), especially Duvall's trigger-happy, fun-loving Air Cavalry colonel. Marlon Brando is harrowing, beautiful and electrifying as Kurtz, his indictment yet embracing of war a chilling insight into the horrors of warfare, and despite the fact he doesn't have much screen time, he shadows the film, his character is the climax of all the hardships of the journey upriver. Colonel Walter Kurtz is a demonstration of the bias of the misinformed public, painted out as a monster, when he is something else. Coppola's editing and directing particularly proves its worth with Kurtz, his use of the shadows of the temple in which Kurtz resides veiling a myth of a man. But the real credit in acting goes to Martin Sheen, his Benjamin Willard firmly anchoring the film, dominating it subtly. Moreover, it's Sheen's masterful acting throughout that takes us by the hand so that we melt down with him in the horrors he faces. It's probably Sheen's finest performance of his career, rivalling if not exceeding Kit in Terrence Malick's Badlands.
As a piece of cinema, Apocalypse Now is flawless. It's Coppola's tour-de-force in the amount of effort that went into it and the brilliance of the results it produces. His adaption of Conrad's novel is perfect, the script he wrote and the masterful direction bringing out the superb acting, imagery and atmosphere. It's definately an acquired taste of a film, so weird, surreal, the psychology so concentrated that it can produce different expectations from its audience. Indeed, it's as unusual as David Lynch's Eraserhead or Stanley Kubrick's 2001: A Space Odyssey; before watching it, one has to bear in mind that this isn't a film which is easy to watch, being very draining and intense. It never allows itself to be tied down by history or the technicalities of war and the action, preferring to stick to its characters and the various situations they find themselves in. Furthermore, as the film drifts up river, it becomes more and more of an acquired taste as the weirdness and the psychological aspect intensify, so by the end it's hard not feel a little tranced out. The Redux, adding an extra 45 minutes onto the original and restructing the film a bit, accentuates this aspect even more. The film becomes far more complex and the themes become more defined. Some of the prominent added scenes, namely the notorious French plantation sequence, do contribute some interesting substance to the film, but are not always necessary. Ultimately the Redux feels much longer than the original, it's even more of an acquired taste, but is completely worth it for the extra brilliance it adds on. Really, the quality of the Redux and the original is all down to personal preference, but the Redux is certainly the film in its truest form, and exceeds the quality of the original in that it's just more fantastic cinema!
Apocalypse Now is true epic of a film, so unique it's incomparable to all its Vietnamese cousins. It's timeless; inevitably over three decades a film will age and appear tame in comparison to new modern war films, but Apocalypse Now has stayed on its own two feet and remains the most powerful and most original war film there is. Pure cinema, perfect in every way.
TERMINATE WITH EXTREME PREJUDICE
This one term I did not know the exact meanings, I searched and searched till I found it. Those days were not famous for Information Technology, so it was quiet difficult for me to get to the meanings of these words.
When I became sure of its meanings and I saw the film Apocalypse Now, I began to ponder the cruelty of implications in this term, How could your own organization want to send uniformed officers as assassins to kill even after you have given your sanity for the general cause, what is the guarantee that we all are not being used in the same way, one way or the other.
Colonel Walter E.Kurtz(Brando) must be assassinated by Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) because the Colonel has become a renegade, the journey over the river has some very strong scenes ever filmed, there are other actors in this film, they are Laurence Fishbourne, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford, Frederic Forrest, Robert Duvall (Won an Oscar)this film won 2 Oscars, it was produced, directed and written by Francis Ford Coppola.
A Colonel is not a small post in any army of this world, the question is were there real people like him ? Yes as per News Reporters and Novel writers, I read about different Triangles, drug lords and their armies, the Iran scam, Jason Bourne was abandoned because the old man sold himself out, L.A.Confidentian all these things are crossing over from fiction to fact.
The truth being highlighted here by Mr.Coppola is a very brave deed, our democratic systems and the extreme liberties has given birth to very big predatory groups among us, these groups are powerful and they use every tool, each trying to outwit the others, each is after the system and it is busy trying to ARM TWIST the system into their agenda. This is a fact shown in our movie, the meek majority like us with no arm twisting powers are innocent bystanders and taking the full blame and injuries in situations like 9/11 and other incidents, we the common people loose in a very big way.
We do not even get to know the truth from our representatives, those who do not agree are thrown out as non-conformists, everything is muddled in useless jargon, we are left to deduce on our own bits here and pieces there. We loose our sleep and we fail our health and become obsessed with Cerberus sonar covers. Everything fails the good the evil all fail, both are losers, the only people who gain are the arm twisters who are ever ready to devour the puddings.
The Camera works, the dialogues, the early morning raid on the village, the lightings, the sets are a tribute to the great work done by Mr.Coppola, the deep impact the scenes on the river do swell within you great many yarns, this is one such yarn, I was able to weave from the energy generated from this film.
Think man, THINK hard is what this film is shouting to us, Mr.Coppola gambled with all his life's savings to complete this film, he faced typhoons and calamities to complete, with all the odds stacked against him, he wanted to create in us stirrings we feel after watching Apocalypse now, he was disturbed by the loss of limbs of 21 year old kids and their lives sometimes for nothing, they could have been the light of our lives, could be these kids were recruits from broken families and graduates from orphanages, they dont seem to have any mourners for them.
No cause will justify taking the lives of innocent people, this is the law of our ancient GOD, human life is sacred, if this film was ment as a warning to all those who renegade, it did not lessen the rebels all over the world, how many rebel groups are there in this world. If it was the rebels only to bring to the negotiating table, all problems would have been solved long time back, it not just the rebels, it is their trainers who are hard to please. How many more missions up the river we need to make this world a safe place.
Bravo Mr.Coppola for giving me the disturbance to write this review, the real Apocalypse Now is the groups we are facing everyday who seem to be winning and making this anti war movie more relevant all these 25 years and I do not know till when this will continue......
Yo peace is becoming rarer and dearer everyday !!!
A film directed by Francis Ford Coppola, following a struggle during the Vietnam period in Cambodia, where the groups mission is to overthrow a green beret who has set himself up as a god like figure in a Cambodian tribe. Includes a high class cast ranging from Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall.
This is another good quality war film set in the Vietnam period, and a must buy for those fans of such genres. Similar sort of style to Platoon.
Apocalypse Now is arguably one of the greatest war films ever made, certainly one of the most controversial and also one of the most original and thought provoking. Martin Sheen is cast in the lead role of Captain Willard, a role offered to a number of actors before him including Steve McQueen, Jack Nicholson and Harvey Keitel. Willard is a special forces assassin, worn out by the Vietnam War but feeling that it is the only place that feels natural to him, who is given a mission to hunt down a renegade US colonel who has crossed the border into Cambodia and set up his own small empire and acting outside official army orders. Colonel Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando must be terminated and Willard is the man to do the job. Willard heads off up river with a patrol boat crew, which includes a 14 year old Laurence Fishburn, to hunt down his quarry on the way being escorted by a unit of Air Cavalry lead by Major Kilgore played by Robert Duval. Kilgore is a surfing obsessed mans man, beloved by his troops but using methods that are often questionable and indiscriminate but representing the type of leader of men that wars produce.
The heart of the film is the journey it self, as Willard learns more about the distinguished career that Kurtz has turned his back on, and tries to understand the man, he develops a respect for him to the point where he doesn't know whether he will be able to terminate him. Compared to the likes of Kilgore he seems no worse in the methods he uses to achieve his goal. The only difference seems to be that Duval is acting under direct orders and Kurtz is directing the war his way, regardless of his successes the powers that be want him out of the picture. As the journey progresses, the surroundings and events become more and more bizarre, and as the boat crew succumb to drugs and insanity, the seem to cross out of the real world into a modern day Dantes Inferno. Also as the madness escalates we see Willard change, he becomes more brutal in the actions he sees as necessary to achieve his goal until you begin to question whether he is any better than the man he has been sent to kill.
Eventually on the other side of the Cambodian border they reach Kurtz kingdom of madness and the full horror of his nature become apparent. Dead and mutilated bodies bear witness to the brutal madness that has taken hold of the place. Here Willard meets a photojournalist played by Dennis Hopper, who seems to view Kurtz as a deity, able to justify his methods and repulsed by the accusation of madness that Willard levels on Kurtz. So far, like Willard, we only know of Kurtz through reports and rumours and finally Willard is shown to his quarters. Brando is captivating as the tortured soul trying to battle the demons that the war has left him with. He appears at once a madman and a genius, at a turn caring and then cold and brutal. He knows why Willard has been sent here and seems to welcome the release of death. Willard now must decide what to do, is he capable of killing Kurtz, will he join him or will his grip on sanity fail him too?
The plot is straight forward but the depth to the film is immense. On the surface a straight forward war film but in reality a study in human nature, sanity and morality and for film buffs a subject that has probably had more analysis than any other modern film, there are signs and messages every where, double meanings and portents abound. References to the true meaning of the film are to be found everywhere, for example one scene opens with Kurtz books being scanned by the camera and the most prominent is James Frazers Golden Bough, a study in mythology and anthropology, which opens with the tale of the rites of passage of a young usurper killing the ageing king and taking over his throne, is this not what Willard has come to do?
Its depiction of war comes not from the battle scenes, though these are done very well, but from the mix of chaos and normality. Soldiers surfing on the edge of a battle zone, the ability of the boat crew to kill civilians but save a lost puppy, its the mix of morality with madness, the unpredictability of the people and their double standards when trying to justify their actions. The direction and cinematography are superb, as you would expect from Francis Ford Coppola, the second half of the film in particular, filmed in half light and shadow, swathed in mist and an atmosphere of terror and slow death, creates this otherworldly feeling, this is hell on earth. Coppola's father, Carmine, was responsible for a memorable score which mixes contemporary songs such from the likes of The Doors and the Rolling Stones, with instrumentals that are based on the traditional sounds of South East Asia.
All in all a classic film about the effects of war on people, in a similar vein as The Deerhunter but with the emphasis on one man rather that a group of friends and their community. It is a film that will make you think and will open up more questions than answers, but provides some memorable scenes and will remain a benchmark for future film makers for a long time to come.
Following the example set by his old pals Steven Spielberg and George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola has revisited a classic that no-one ever thought needed enhancement and produced Apocalypse Now Redux, a remastered and extended version of his hallucinogenic Vietnam nightmare that adds some 50 minutes of extra material. On the plus side, certain extended sequences--such as Kilgore's bombing-cum-surfing raid and the final battle of nerves between Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando--add greater depth to our appreciation of the film. On the debit side, the lengthy French plantation interlude and the squalid fate of the Playboy bunnies simply underscore what we already know about war and hell and the depressing futility of it all. It's possible that Apocalyspe Now is not really about Vietnam at all, but is in fact a despairing commentary on the dissolution of contemporary American society; it's also possible that Apocalypse Now Redux, for all its epic scale and visceral power, ultimately fails to make the film's real message any clearer than before. Either way, it remains one of the greatest (anti-)war films ever made. On the DVD: Apocalypse Now Redux is self-recommending on DVD, especially with vividly remastered Dolby 5.1 sound (the whirling helicopter blades are dizzying) and an anamorphic widescreen picture. Disappointingly the disc contains no extra features other than a trailer for the Redux version. Coppola has provided excellent commentaries for his Godfather trilogy so it's a shame not to have his comments here; and the justly famous "Heart of Darkness" documentary is conspicuous by its absence, too. --Mark Walker