Apocalypse Now (1979), Dir. Francis Ford Coppola

Apocalypse Now (1979), Dir. Francis Ford Coppola
“Never get out of the boat.” Absolutely goddamn right! Unless you were goin’ all the way... Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin’ program.
— Willard, Apocalypse Now (1979)

Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Laurence Fishburne, Sam Bottoms, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper, G. D. Spradlin.
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Screenplay: John Milius & Francis Ford Coppola.

This is the man's version of The Lord of the Flies where the atmosphere and environment has the ability to take ones sanity and break you down to mans more primitive instincts. However primitive instincts with knowledge that we possess makes that all the more horrifying.

There are sections on the river that takes the characters from the horror of war, to the horror of men. But while the journey to find Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) holds so much fear at what a man who is fully lost in his own psychosis, watching what ordinary men is almost just as horrifying. This film is about the soldier who lives only for war; whether that be in the manner of fast paced warfare such as Kilgore (Robert Duvall), or for the man who realises that once going home you never really get your life back (Willard played by Martin Sheen). These are damaged men, or will be damaged when they must look back a see what this war has turned them into.

This film is beautiful, from the hypnotic use of music alongside The Doors and Wagner that compliments the flow of the camera, the slow movement across the river that lulls you into a trance. This film is noted for its use of helicopters and its ability to have so many on screen, but it is everything that this camera touches that sores just as high as those rotor blades.

Truly entrancing and it captures the feelings in regards to this war in a way that I have never seen before. Instead of these large scale attacks seeming heroic it creates fear. These fierce flying crafts with booming war music encroaching onto the the villages filled with civilians. America is not seen as the saviours but the fear mongers with men at the helm what see these people as savages. 

It is a film that I am glad I waited to watch now that I am older. I think my younger self would have found the pace slow and the climax too complex. I am not saying that it is a hard film to comprehend but it is one that you appreciate all the more when you delve into it, let it take you over.

I would be interesting to watch the Redux only to spend more time with Brando at the end, his part feels to short for its significance within the films framework. It is a fantastic piece of cinematic history and I am so pleased it landed in Coppola's lap because this could have been a much different film in another directors control.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★