“The horror…the horror…” If there’s any film that genuinely grasps the insanity that was Vietnam, it’s ‘Apocalypse Now’. Francis Ford Coppola’s brilliant directing coupled with a fascinating screenplay makes the film quite possibly one of the best films ever made. To try to summarize any further however, would take away from the film’s massive impression left on the viewer.
Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) is on a mission to take out a ‘rebel’ colonel (Marlon Brando), who has been keeping troops deep inside Vietnam and ignoring orders. As far as he knows, he’s gone insane. The truth however, is sort of a mix between insanity and brilliance, as hard as that is to understand. But to claim the film is simply about that would take away a large part of the film. Most of it is what leads up to his meeting with the colonel and what happens on the De Nang river. (I think I spelled that right). Along the way, he meets another general who plans an invasion in order to surf (“I love the smell of napalm in the morning…it’s the smell of victory.”), an encounter with a civilian boat, a riot, a continuous gunfight along a bridge, …I could go on. Suffice it to say that the further he goes into Vietnam, the more insane things get, culminating in his meeting with Colonel Kurtz. ‘Apocalypse Now’ is truly a remarkable film.
One thing worth mentioning is the ‘Redux’ version of the film, which is basically Copolla’s “director’s cut”. The redux version is 50 minutes longer. I read from another review that the film ‘takes away from the arc of the story’. This couldn’t be better phrased, so I had to borrow it for my own. The extra 50 minutes may provide a larger scope of Vietnam, but as a result it takes away from the tension built up as the captain gets closer to Colonel Kurtz. As a result, the ‘redux’ version isn’t quite what it could be. But the original is a classic.+4