Apocalypse Now (1979)
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Main Cast: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall
The film takes place in 1969 during the height of the Vietnam War. Our protagonist U.S. Army Captain Willard, who is a drunken mess, is assigned by his superiors to carry out a confidential mission. He is tasked with finding Colonel Walter Kurtz, a man who the army believes has gone absolutely insane. Kurtz has a number of loyal followers that he has turned into his own private militia. They have crossed into Cambodia, from Vietnam where they worship Kurtz like a god and will carry out whatever tasks he gives them without a second thought. Willard must travel up the Nung River on a Navy patrol boat with only a few other squad members. On his journey deeper into the untamed jungle he encounters the same horrors that drove Kurtz mad and the evil of humanity. By the end of his journey he finds it hard to distinguish the differences between himself and the man he was sent to assassinate.
The movie is based heavily on the novel “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad, it follows the same structure and themes. Has similar dialogue (some lines taken straight from the book), similar characters, the only real difference is the time period the film is set in. However this is a review about movie, not how it compares to the novel, so lets get right into it.
Apocalypse Now as a whole is a fantastic war movie, however it is also so much more than just “another war movie”. It is a philosophical and psychological study of man as a whole. I will try not to spoil anything for you, just inform. Its memorable opening scene alone lets the viewer now that they are in for an extraordinary experience. While the movie can be long (2 hours and 33 minutes, the redux version adding an extra 40+ minutes on top of that) and have some slow parts, it manages to keep the viewer engaged into what is going on the entire time. Despite the film being released in the late 70s, it has some of the best sound, editing, and cinematography that I have ever seen. In addition the actors all deliver exceptional performances. A star studded cast of Robert Duvall, Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen all are there own unique characters and make the viewer feel for all of them in there own way. Sheen has some of the best narration that actually works well and flows with the movie. This film can be challenging to watch for some, however it is most certainly worth it if you can find the time to sit through it. The ending offers no clear answers or conclusions and wants the viewer to interpret it in there own way. I can not recommend this movie enough, it is most certainly one of the best movies of all time and needs to be seen by anyone who enjoys film. I recommend seeing the original version, and not the redux version for the first time viewing.