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Latest Member: paulbb69 Forum  |  Movies  |  Good Movies  |  The post to ramble about "Apocalypse Now". « previous next »
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Author Topic: The post to ramble about "Apocalypse Now".  (Read 6497 times)
Frightening Fanatic of Horrible Cinema

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« on: June 13, 2007, 06:02:43 PM »

There bad movies, good movies, great movies, truly great movies and then there's "Apocalypse Now". It's probably my favourite film ever, one of the very few than can boast about being deeper and with more readings than most books, even if it hasn't much dialogue, and probably a great deal of it was ad-libbed.

I've always been fascinated by this movie, from my early childhood. It would pop up once a year on national TV, which wasn't much. i guess it was because its lenght and because it's not exactly a crowd pleaser. I mean, sure many people like it, but it's not the kind of movie they'd like to see if they had more accesible choices.

I'd better say, before the rambling goes on, that I never understood the film, nor I plan to suggest any interpretation. Why doesn't Kurtz kill Willard as soon as he enters his compound? What is the exact nature of his madness? I have no idea. Does Willard call for the airstrike at the end? Be my guest. It's one of the best things about "Apocalypse Now". It stands deep analysis, but it will always hide its mysteries. Its images are both hipnotic and empty. They don't say anything but they seem to say it all at the same time. The objects and people in the images seem real, but their dialogue, actions and perception of time are those of extraterrestials. Time... it sort of makes sense at the beginning, but once Willard jumps into the boat everything seems to freeze. The boat moves, but at first it doesn't seem to go anywhere, and when it does the film becomes increasingly surreal. Is that the bridge of Do Lung or the boat has crossed to the other world while Chief was sleeping or thinking of his family?

As I said, my fascination with this movie started when I was a kid. Because of the film's lenght, my parents wouldn't let me stay awake until the end. Still, I saw enough. Like the way the characters perceive war or the enemy. I don't know if it's realistic, and I don't care, but you rarely see soldiers in movies behaving like our crew does during the attack to the coastal village. You get to feel the adrenaline rush, but also you feel horrified at the savagery and the casual attitude to the soldiers towards killing.

Sometimes I would stay awake until the Do Lung episode. As I said, I couldn't, not even wanted, to understand what was going on. But the confusion in my head had an unexpected advantage: I could realise that if I didn't have a clue of what was going on, neither could any of the main characters, much less Willard. And therefore I could imagina myself quite easily doing the trip on the boat as well.

I finally got to finish the movie, and a few times, and of course my confusion wasn't relieved. Instead of finding some key explanation to the whole thing, Coppola seemed happy to add more layers of fog and smoke. I was mad at him the first time, of course, but I ended up accepting my fate. After all, the whole magnitude of the movie (and this was before the Redux version appeared) refused to be simplified into a sentence, an image or an explanation. Maybe Willard was also looking for an explanation to all the nonsense he had experienced, only to find that there was not, and that Kurtz, if he knew any explanation, would never lower himself to share it with him. Maybe that's why he finds so easy to kill Kurtz, and why he still seems to have the last laugh.

(Neville takes a long drink, then passes the bottle)

Due to the horrifying nature of this film, no one will be admitted to the theatre.
Bad Movie Lover

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« Reply #1 on: June 13, 2007, 06:38:17 PM »

I loved the movie.  I heard Coppola stressed for a long time about the ending and had several ideas.  The ending he used was the least creative but the most realistic.  I really liked the scene at the bridge where the guy dropped acid while the battle is going on.  Even the sober people must have been trippin during it.

Bad Movie Lover

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« Reply #2 on: June 13, 2007, 06:44:34 PM »

In the middle of laundry here, but wanted to ramble a little myself about the film, before the dryer shift...

I had the incredibly great fortune to see this in the theater.  I was 9 and my folks pretty much figured I was able to handle it...yeah I handled it just fine....behind the low barricade at the edge of the huge balcony in the "old" Paramus theater on Route 4!

Actually, the shear scope of the film(in subject matter, visuals and length)just washed over me like some kind of trip to another planet.   It would years before I would even come close to "getting" the film on the many other levels beyond the one I could grasp as a kid. 

What I love about it most, is it's ability to be many things at once...or not necessarily about any one thing in particular.  Like a clever collage it doesn't have to fit any expectation, but usually ends up speaking to many diverse quarters.  It's "Heart of Darkness" and it isn't.  It's about the war in Viet Nam and it's about all wars.  It's not about war, but about man. 

The fact that the film production itself(as has been notoriously addressed) transcend mere filmmaking to become the very experience the storyline was implying, just adds to the mystique.

...and the Air Cav attack on the village?...Let's just say it cemented me as a fan of both war films and Wagner for life.  I stand by my conviction that you have not really experienced the film(let alone that scene, as well as the Do Lung bridge sequence!)until you've seen it in a real theater.

The christmas after it was released, I asked Santa for(and got!) the soundtrack album...crazily enough, we had our holiday at my grandmother's house.  Well, I pop on the album(which includes dialogue and sound from the film!) and right after "The End" plays, Martin Sheen groans..."Saigon...s**t!" followed of course by the mirror scene with Jim Morrison wailing "F***!....F***...F***! C'mon baby! F***! Wah! Yeah! F***!"  Lookingup  My grandmother nearly had a coronary screaming "What the hell did you get him?" And sadly, the Valkyrie scene was cut nearly in half.

Neville, if you haven't seen HEARTS OF DARKNESS, , the making of film captured by Coppola's wife, you absolutely must.    Also, and I recommend this to any and all fans of APOCALYPSE NOW...track down and see PORKLIPS NOW, a short parody film by Ernie Fosselius, the guy who made HARDWARE WARS.  It used to be lumped on the old video release of WARS, but I haven't seen it around lately.

That's my driver's license picture....I hate that picture!"
Frightening Fanatic of Horrible Cinema

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« Reply #3 on: June 14, 2007, 03:13:01 AM »

Yeah, I saw "Hearst of Darkness" awhile ago. Very good documentary, and very revealing of what was going on while the film was made. It took me quite a long time to obtain acopy, though, and by then I had learnt from other sources most of the juicy stuff. Still worth watching.

Keep on the ramblings.

Due to the horrifying nature of this film, no one will be admitted to the theatre.
Bad Movie Lover

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« Reply #4 on: June 14, 2007, 12:32:37 PM »

AN! was one of those movies like The Godfather that I'd seen parodied or homaged but never actually saw...Until last year.

All the wasted years...Why didn't I see this movie sooner?!  But I'm glad I did.  It's a surreal look at the Vietnam War.  Everyone's performances were either vintage or top-of-their-game.  I was supprised to see so many famous (Harrison Ford!  Buggedout) and not-so-famous faces in AN!.  Great movie...

Note: I still have to see The Godfather all the way through.  Every time it's on cable, I almost always come in where the dude is beating up Talya Shire.  Domestic abuse sucks and is really unapealing (as it should be) so it turns me off to the movie right away.  BTW, I have read the Mario Puzo novel so I kind of feel like I've watched the movie already.

He learned almost too late that man is a feeling creature... and because of it, the greatest in the universe........
-Dr. Paul Nelson (Peter Graves)

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Frightening Fanatic of Horrible Cinema

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« Reply #5 on: June 14, 2007, 01:29:41 PM »

Got to see it in the theater in the initial release.  Great film, even if it is frustratingly slow at times.
It's one of those movies that you really need to see on the big screen.

Oh and do read the story Heart of Darkness.  Excellent novella.
Frightening Fanatic of Horrible Cinema

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« Reply #6 on: June 18, 2007, 09:40:21 PM »

I was only 4 years old when Apocalypse Now was in theaters originally, but I jumped on the chance to see the Redux version when it was showing in cinemas a little while back.

While I thought that the footage he shoehorned back in was pointless and took away from the movie, it was still awesome to see it in a theater on the big screen with a great digital sound system blasting away.

I greatly prefer the original theatrical cut BTW.

"There is no way out of here. It'll be dark soon. There is no way out of here."
Frightening Fanatic of Horrible Cinema

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« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2007, 09:02:06 AM »

I actually prefer thje "redux" version over the one released in 1979. It kills the pace, true, which was already quite letargic, but it does add a lot of things to the film. The French plantation scene adds a whole historical subtext that makes the movie less about trippin' and a bit more about Vietnam, and the other added scenes (the stealing of Kilgore's surf board and the second appearence of the playboy bunnies) help understand the evolution of Willard's relationship with the rest of the boat crew, how they go from sort of liking him to hating him.

I also red the novel "Hearts of Darkness" a few years ago. It's shockingly similar, both in tone and narrative, even if the events it depicts have little in common with this movie. More than an adaptation, Milius and Coppola sort of digested the whole thing and then washed it away with LSD.

Due to the horrifying nature of this film, no one will be admitted to the theatre.
Bad Movie Lover

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The laziest man on mars.

« Reply #8 on: June 21, 2007, 12:36:25 AM »

Apocalypse Now is one of my favorite war films. Only Black Hawk Down even comes close to being this good, in my estimation.

Goblins still exist. Your Grandpa Seth is telling you!

Are you nuts? You tryin' ta turn me into a homo?


"May I remind you that I am in command here! Only an idiot would attempt such a thing. I will do it myself."
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Bad Movie Lover

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« Reply #9 on: June 27, 2007, 12:23:27 PM »

I've also never quite seen the entire film, either version, in a single sitting.  I really need to snag the two-disc set that came out last year that includes both...
Bad Movie Lover

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« Reply #10 on: June 28, 2007, 04:10:38 PM »

Apocalypse Now is definitely a milestone in American filmmaking and Coppola's genuis.

The film has always impressed me with it's much more lyrical and introspective character studies on war.  I also think films like the Deer Hunter, Platoon, Salvador, and Savior are also in this mecca of the war film genre.
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