Runtime: 2 Hours
and 33 Minutes
Some say that "The Godfather"
is Coppola's best movie. Some even say that it's the best movie ever
made. Don't get me wrong, "The
Godfather" is pretty damn cool. I'm not saying it isn't.
I'm just saying that it isn't Coppola's best film. Not by a long shot.
I have just watched "Apocalypse Now" for the second time
in my life, and I must say that I short-shrifted it the first time
I saw it. I have a history of that. Sometimes a movie... well, it
just doesn't quite hit you the way it should upon first viewing. Sometimes
it is necessary to give it a second shot, to see what that yields.
In the case of "Apocalypse Now", it yielded quite a bit.
"Apocalypse" is the story of two men who have either hit
the very edge of madness or are full-blown into it. It is about one
man's quest to find and kill a high-ranking general who has made himself
something of a god in the wilderness of Vietnam. It is his search
for the reasons why the army wants this man dead. It is also the search
for his own soul. It is a bizarre film, and that, I think, is why
it may be the best war movie of all time. War itself is a bizarre
concept, yet it is part of our humanity. How else can you explain
the fact that we have gotten involved in so damn many of them. We
are prone to violence against each other, both on a personal scale
and on a national scale. It is part of our genetic structure, perhaps.
"Apocalypse" explores this and, like the greatest of great
movies, allows you to make up your own mind on the subject.
"Apocalypse Now" is a harrowing, thrilling, sometimes humorous
journey up the Vietnam river, back in time, and through the dark heart
of humanity. It is said that Coppola himself went on something of
a dark journey just to get the film made. The film is based upon the
novel "The Heart of Darkness" by Conrad, but it has other
literary allusions as well. It is part "Odyssey", even part
"Huckleberry Finn", but it is also something unique, daring
and wholly original. The screenplay takes the Vietnam experience and
presents it to us as no other film has. Maybe it helped that the war
had just ended and was still so vivid in so many minds. In fact, during
the screenplay stage, the war was still going on. It takes the war
and makes something mythic and symbolic and yet utterly realistic
and plausible at the same time. The cinematography of the film is
the true star, no offense to Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando, who are
bothe quite good. The cinematography uses each shot to create a visual
poem about the brutality and dark nature of man. It presents us many
images and lines which have become part of the collective moviegoing
consciousness. Lines like "The horror" or "I love the
smell of Napalm in the morning." But until you have seen them
in the proper context, you have no idea what you are missing. The
helicopter attack and the boat inspection scenes in particular drive
home both the viciousness, the thrill and the sheer unfocused lunacy
Then again, what do I know of combat? I've never even been in a schoolyard
"Apocalypse Now" is a journey for the viewer as well, taking
them to a place they have never seen before and letting them go, bruised
and shaken and mesmerized on the other side.