|Marin Sheen and Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now|
Little wonder that, following the unprecedented box office and critical success of The Godfather parts 1 & 2, Francis Ford Coppola was able to find himself in the Philippines with a huge amount of funding to begin his most ambitious movie project to date…Apocalypse Now.
Loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness, Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now follows Capt. Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) on his assignment during the Vietnam War to track down and kill the AWOL, and out of control, Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Capt. Willard’s mission is an epic odyssey that takes him deep into the jungles of Vietnam and Cambodia as he searches for the enigmatic Colonel Kurtz; a man who has elevated himself to a god-like status with a devout and bloodthirsty following since abandoning his last mission. Willard also has demons of his own to battle; the horrors of war have taken their toll on him. As he experiences differing aspects of war, right and wrong; he finds himself questioning what is good and evil in the world and what is good and evil from within the soul.
|Marlon Brando as Col. Kurtz in Apocalypse Now|
The movie is largely episodic; as Willard makes his way up river he encounters outlandish characters and situations along the way. Each episode has an effect on Willard and helps him descend, or ascend, depending how you view it, to the same wavelength as Kurtz; a man who Willard feels he is getting to know and understand as his journey progresses.
Although set during the Vietnam War, it doesn’t necessarily fit easily into the standard war film category. The subject matter goes far beyond the actions and consequences of a time of conflict and the vision becomes almost dreamlike or, rather nightmarish. Despite the wanton destruction and carnage there is a view from a higher plane, as though the individual actions or merely part of a wider aspect of the human condition. From the opening sequence where seldom has destruction become so beautiful the film continues to seemingly drift in and out of consciousness and delves into a meditation of life and death.
|Martin Sheen as Capt. Benjamin Willard in Apocalypse Now|
This movie is a crucial piece of cinematic history from a time when the studios backed the director to the absolute limit and were rewarded. Michael Cimino’s Heaven’s Gate famously burnt the studio backing the film so badly that this sheer arrogance, bravery and commitment to filmmaking has never since been emulated…
Apocalypse Now Redux is screening at Broadway on Sunday 19 September at 7pm