Pros: Even with its faults it was a decent production
The Bottom Line: ___________
..."I love the smell of napalm in the morning...."... Duvall
I graduated from high school in 1964, that was not a good time for young men and women to be starting out on their own. Back then, like now, it was cool to be serving your country on the battle front. Many of my classmates signed on the dotted line before graduation and as soon as they took off that cap and gown they put on those fatigues. Many, way too many, never walked back on American soil again.
Within a year or so it became very uncool to be serving in this conflict.
This review is dedicated to my fellow 373 classmates that were either killed, wounded, or are MIA from the conflict known as Vietnam. It is dedicated to the pain, frustration and abandonment they felt when they came home, those that actually made it back. It is dedicated to the mental unrest that resides in all of us ... our own personal Apocalypse.
Apocalypse Now stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederick Forrest, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, Harrison Ford, and Scott Glenn, in addition to a million extras. It was directed by Francis Ford Coppola, who never fails to give us more than we ask for and yet makes us want even more.
It is a movie that is darkly incomprehensible as we take a tour into the insane mind of Brando, trek through the rivers and terrain of the bleak and horrible Vietnam and into Cambodia. Martin Sheen is on the trail of Brando, a rogue officer that has holed up with a band of equally insane people, inside Cambodia. Sheen, already at the limit of his mental and physical capacity, has viewed too many deaths and is dreaming too many dreams.
In route to Brando, Sheen meets up with Duvall, another truly insane individual in this conflict. In fact, everyone involved in this story shows just a little madness, has let their own personal apocalypse loose. Some of the most memorable music, scenes, and lines arose from this film. The instance the scene I chose for this quote is after Duvall and his crew fire-storm a village, speakers blaring Ride of the Valkyries, blowing away citizens as well as enemies. He strolls around with Sheen and says Ah, I love the smell of Napalm in the morning.
Songs of the era played throughout: Surfin Safari, Let the Good Times Roll, Suzie Q, Satisfaction, The End, making for a decent soundtrack.
During his ride upriver, Sheen reflects on his upcoming meeting with Brando. He is faced with trying to overcome his own personal feelings about Brando, a deep admiration that is never fully explained. Once he finally encounters him, buried in a dark, dank, musty cave, spouting his theories on life and death, Sheen must make a choice that shakes him deeply. One of Brandos most foolhearty followers is Hopper, who I truly believe is crazy in his own right.
Apocalypse Now came in hugely over budget forcing Coppola to front some of the money himself. It earned little more than the production costs in the theaters but I would assume that by now, with purchases and rentals, it has probably broken even at least. It was not viewed with a welcome eye when released because at the time Vietnam was still a little too close to those of us that either served or lost someone in battle. Even now, watching this movie, I re-live the nightly body count on television. It was a horrible experience, yet they cloaked it as news.
Coppola has the capability to pick you from your comfortable chair and set you down in the jungles with these men, boys really, barely old enough to shave most of them. The intense heat and dense foliage and the rain, always the rain. You ache with them, beg for some sleep not interrupted by gunfire and bombs. You want to be dry, just one day. Your feet hurt, your body itches from insect bites, heat, and disease.
You sit in that dark cave with Brando, listening to his mindless rambling, never fully understanding what his point might be. You watch Hopper dancing around, a weird little psycho, pointing out that the severed heads adorning the cave might be a bit far over the top. You feel the restlessness and unease faced each day because you just never knew who was friend or foe, no matter their age. You watch the destruction of more than a country, both theirs and ours, you watch the destruction of a mind.
Sheen reflects at one time - Someday this war's gonna end. That'd be just fine with the boys on the boat. They weren't looking for anything more than a way home. Trouble is, I'd been back there, and I knew that it just didn't exist anymore. This reminds you that the war doesnt stop over there, but continues once those that survive return home to hatred and neglect.
However, with all his talent and all his ability, Coppola fell short in one part of this movie. He forgot to portray the humanity. He doesn't touch on the destruction of Vietnam as a country and the innocent people that were caught in this conflict. He doesn't bring to front the truly dedicated soldiers that were doing their job as they were trained to do. But that wouldn't sell the movie, would it?
He never touches on the true struggle of the conflict, its association with soldiers fighting and dying for it, the horror it was inflicting on the American home front, and the devastation of the returning soldiers. The ones we forgot once they came back, the ones we ignored or banished or the ones that came back 'normal'. As with most movies about Vietnam, it focused on the truly deranged and destructive because that is what sells movies.
This wasnt a conflict that brought a country together, there were no yellow ribbons flying, there were no Support Our Troops signs in front yards.
The young adults that view this movie today dont quite comprehend the impact it had on our lives, nor the impact on that little country known as Vietnam. These same young adults are the offspring of those of us that fought and served, and those that also sat and waited for our loved ones to return. Some of us waited and welcomed home strangers who mentally never survived, some of us welcomed home flag-draped boxes.
True, this is simply a movie. Most of the material is vague at best, probably quite a loose interpretation of what actually happened. No one wants to really know what went on over there and when asked, most that served say they dont want to discuss it. Fact or fiction, the ultimate result was devastation - of a country, of an era, of an ideal.
Leaving Vietnam was just the start of the war for many soldiers.
The horror the horror (Brando)
Based on the novel "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad.
This is part of the Quotes That Make The Movies Write-off, sponsored by dbcint See his page for more info.
“Captain_Couth” has written an excellent review and plot summary of Apocalypse Now. Therefore, because I am a history prof., my review will emphasize the important literary influences on the writers Francis Ford Copolla, (director as well), John Milius and Michael Herr. The movie is a seminal work because it was influenced by four important works of the twentieth century: Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, T. S. Elliott’s poem the WasteLand, Sir James George … more
Apocalypse Now is a bizarre adaptation of "Hearts of Darkness". Willard (Martin Sheen) goes on a journey to look for the missing Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) and exterminate him with extreme prejudice (as opposed to plain old prejudice). Along the journey into the deep dark jungle, Willard not only learns more about the mythical and dangerous Kurtz, but a lot about himself. Along for the ride are Chief (Albert Hall), Lance (Sam Bottoms), Clean (Laurence Fishburne) and … more
Apocalypse Now is based off the book Heart of Darkness By the Author last name Conrad I believe. The movie is one of Francis Ford Coppala's great films. I believe filmed in the Philippines. Set during the Vietnam War it traces a special forces Captain, played by Micheal Sheen, struggling with the knowledge of having to get rid of another officer because Kurts, played by Marlon Brando, has gone off the reservation and become tribal and killing haphazardly. I can't tell you how much I loved this movie … more
Hopper is great in this movie, especially since he really had only a cameo apperance! He was given great lines. By the way he is quoting T.S. Elliot's "The Waste Land" when he says: "I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas... "