The horror…the horror….
When I first saw Apocalypse Now in the theatre in 1979 I was very disapointed. After both Godfather Movies and “The Conversation” I had become a big fan of the director. But as I sat and watched this film I pretty much sat back and said to myself..”Huh?” I was confused. After the Deer Hunter I was so looking forward to Coppola’s take on the War. But I felt a let down.
I waited. My curiosity overcame me. How could I have disliked this so? Maybe I should return to the theatre.
And Change my expectations.
When I went the first time I was expecting something more obvious. A plot that was easily followed. One where I didn’t have to work as much to sit back and enjoy.
I sat and took it in. And experienced it. Let it wash over me.
What I saw that second time. Was the madness. The horror. The frustration. The confusion. And the sheer desperation of what it was like to be in that War. I saw the disparity between sane and insane. And the very very thin line betweeen them.
The scenes come rushing back as I type this. They resonate. The incredible filmed sequence of the attack on the small Vietnam Village. The show put on by the “Bunnies”. The entire Marlon Brando sequence. The attack on the small boat of suspected villagers. The use of the music of the Doors in two different scenes( the opening is amazing). So much incredible filmmaking in an incredible story. And the one greatest moment of them all, after Duvall’s character gives his speech ” I love the smell of Napalm in the morning, It smells like… Victory” the cut to Sheen’s character and the look on his face sums up for me the entire experience and feelings of confusion, madness, and idiocy all rolled up in a prim little package. It was an entire commentary on the War Experience in general in one brief 10 second scene.
All the trouble and problems that were ran into during the production of this film. It is an incredible story in itself. Let alone that what I consider a masterpiece resulted from it.
Brando is great in his small role. Martin Sheen is took this role in and became him as well as being the force that drives the film. Robert Duvall is powerful as the air cavalry commander. And yes Harrison Ford is seen in a very small role.
For me this is the ultimate War Film. Out of the three Vietnam films that I love this one is the Grand Master.
And Coppola’s greatest work. By just a hair over .. That other film. Such a talented Director.