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One of the greatest war films to come out of Hollywood

  • Aug 11, 2010

“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 Frazer’s book The Golden Baugh, and Jessie L. Weston’s book From Ritual To Romance.  By the way, anyone who has read Joseph Campbell’s Hero with a Thousand Faces cannot deny that the movie follows his paradigm of the “hero’s quest.”  One actually gets a visual glimpse of this in the movie in a scene with Col. Kurtz in his cave.  On his night stand one can briefly see T. S. Elliott’s poem the WasteLand, Sir James George Frazer’s book The Golden Baugh, and Jessie L. Weston’s book From Ritual To Romance.
Sir James George Frazer’s book The Golden Baugh was a groundbreaking work on ancient religion, paganism, and roots of early Christianity.  Frazer does an in-depth examination of the sacrificial killing of god-kings to ensure bountiful harvests, which Frazer traces through several cultures, including in his elaborations the myths of Adonis, Osiris, and Balder. 
Frazer spent his life writing fifteen volumes of history of myth and religion.  His abridged book sums up his theory of magic and its connections to paganism, as well as fusing ideas from Jessie L. Weston’s book From Ritual To Romance and Gnostic texts that serve as a link to early Christianity’s influence from ancient nature cults.  His chapter titles say much about where his work goes and why it is so influential on iconic twentieth century works.  The King of the Wood explains the original nature of the task imposed upon the hero, it undoubtedly influenced both Campbell’s and Coppola’s works.  The Myths of Adonis, Attis, and Osiris looks to establish a chain of descent connecting early Aryan and Babylonian ritual with classic, Medieval and modern forms of nature worship.  Our Debt to the Savage explains the role of the Medicine Man or doctor in fertility ritual.  The Killing of the Devine King analyzes how this title is prevalent in so many of humankind’s legends, and was a definite influence on Coppola’s Colonel Kurtz character.  Sacrifice of the King’s Son regarded as an object of awe certainly influenced the movie.
Anyone wanting to understand the movie Apocalypse Now, especially the character of Colonel Kurtz, and what Milius and Copolla were trying to tell their audience need to read these five books!  I promise you that in addition to a better understanding of the movie you will have a better insight into mankind’s thirst for spirituality.

I love the redux version.as a philosopher I find you can "peel" the movie like an onion finding all of its nuances.
By the way, how could I not love this movie, I am a retired army helicopter pilot!  I recommend this movie and the books for anyone interested in literature, myth, history, philosophy, religion and fans of Apocalypse Now.

One of the greatest war films to come out of Hollywood

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August 11, 2010
This movie rocks. I love it, I love the different take that Redux had being more about Vietnam and not so much Heart of Darkness as the basis and Hearts of Darkness is freaking AWESOME. All three are coming out in one nice little BluRay package soon. I am getting it no question.
August 11, 2010
wow! Very thorough review. Have you seen 'redux'?
August 11, 2010
Yes, much better than the original release. I love this movie as a philosopher because you can peel it like an onion finding all of its nuances.
More Apocalypse Now reviews
review by . August 08, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
A metaphoric film that travels down a river of self discovery into one's soul and the madness of war
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 …
Quick Tip by . March 28, 2011
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 …
Quick Tip by . August 11, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
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... "
Quick Tip by . July 27, 2010
posted in Movie Hype
review by . August 21, 2004
Pros: Even with its faults it was a decent production     Cons: .....     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 …
About the reviewer
Michael Neulander ()
Ranked #43
Recently graduated with a Masters in Humanities degree from Old Dominion University reading in philosophy and history. I graduated from the Univ. of Miami in 1980 with a B.A. in Political Science; specializing … more
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