WolfmanOz at the Movies #9


This is The End

Jim Morrison’s lyrics are the first words you hear in Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 seminal and epic psychological Vietnam war film Apocalypse Now as US helicopters strike in the jungle with a napalm attack whilst Captain Willard hallucinates in a drunken haze in his Saigon hotel.

https://youtu.be/rb-Ne7hM300

Willard is then dragged from his drunken stupor to a briefing at headquarters in Nha Trang where he is ordered on a mission to assassinate one of his own officers, Colonel Kurtz, who he is told has gone renegade with his own local army and is presumed to be insane. The briefing climaxes with one of the most chilling lines in movie history “Terminate with extreme prejudice”.

https://youtu.be/nWZPHykzv38

And now the film has been set for one of the most mesmerising journeys into a modern day hell ever committed on film as Willard joins a US navy river patrol boat which is to navigate up the Nung River to Kurtz’s outpost.

The movie is loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart Of Darkness written back in 1899 and despite, or because of, the many difficulties experienced during the filming, it has entered into movie folk-lore with original leading man Harvey Keitel being replaced by Martin Sheen who then had a breakdown and a heart attack on location; Marlon Brando turning up on the set grossly over-weight; severe weather destroying sets and numerous postponements of the film’s release.

The patrol boat rendezvous with a helicopter air assault unit commanded by Colonel Kilgore (memorably played by Robert Duvall) which then escorts the patrol boat through a Viet Cong held coastal mouth attacking the Viet Cong at dawn whilst memorably playing Ride Of The Valkyries on loudspeakers.

https://youtu.be/oqBFKa0FU9U
https://youtu.be/LNFUxBEhFcQ

It is all totally appalling but it is also utterly compelling cinema at it’s most majestic and operatic.

There are numerous adventures the river boat experiences on the way up the Nung River but the sense of foreboding of approaching Kurtz (Brando) hangs over the journey.

https://youtu.be/Pshs0Uoy6pw

Willard finally reaches Kurtz’s compound and he is bound and bought before Kurtz where he tells Willard about his theories of war and life. He then implies to Willard that he will accept his death at the hands of him.

There are 3 versions of Apocalypse Now – Theatrical, Redux and Final Cut; of which I have always preferred the theatrical cut version as IMO the longer versions simply add more padding to a film that is already at the right length at 147 minutes in it’s original release length.

Today, a film like Apocalypse Now would never get made where the artistic vision of an obsessive film-maker would never get financed in the woke-drenched excuse that was once a great movie-making industry.

It’s now generally acclaimed as one of the greatest films of all-time and is one of my top 20 favourite films.

Enjoy

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Anchor What
Anchor What
February 17, 2022 8:17 am

Started to revisit this some years back with my son. We’ve both done a bit of martial arts, and the antics of Martin Sheen in his bedroom were comical.
It’s a film with a few quotable lines, but ultimately it’s questionable whether it deserves its status. The anti-war vibe of the time no doubt helped it along.
He did a lot of better work – The Godfather, Patton, and The Cotton Club are all great.

Anchor What
Anchor What
February 17, 2022 8:44 am

The only shortcoming of Patton was that it concentrated on WW2, which I guess is fair enough. There’s enough material on him to do a complete series – or two. He was a cavalry officer from before WW1, and close to General Pershing. In fact he went with the Pershing punitive expedition into Mexico in search of Pancho Villa. Mexico had some nasty crooks way back.
Patton had become a master swordsman after representing the USA in the Pentathlon at the Olympic Games, 1912, redesigned the cavalry saber, and wrote a book on how to use it.
He wanted nothing more than to be in the thick of any war that came along. I’m just about to read the section on WW1, where once again he wangled his way into the first group to go to Europe, again with Pershing.

Rabz
February 17, 2022 8:58 am

Willard is then dragged from his drunken stupor

His first words being, “What are the charges?”.

So many legendary scenes, although one has always intrigued me – anyone know what the music is playing when the black soldier blows up the VC with the loudspeaker at the bridge? I’ve always assumed it was Hendrix.

Rabz
February 17, 2022 8:58 am

Oops – total format fail there.

Tony Taylor
Tony Taylor
February 17, 2022 9:17 am

Add The Rain People into that hot streak.

lotocoti
lotocoti
February 17, 2022 9:49 am

The theatrical cut is the best, the bloat of the Redux version sucks the life out of it.
The nightmarish Bridge at Do Lung vignette remains a favourite.
(If you were a Cadet Midshipman in 1979, having access to Janes’ All the World’s Ships
and Sea Boat 33s made “Let’s play PBRs*” inevitable.
*Not being completely irresponsible, no smooth-for-day-knurled-for-nights were misused.)

Roger
Roger
February 17, 2022 10:20 am

… anyone know what the music is playing when the black soldier blows up the VC with the loudspeaker at the bridge? I’ve always assumed it was Hendrix.

Pretty sure it’s Randy Hansen, a Hendrix tribute artist.

Rabz
February 17, 2022 11:13 am

Thanks Rog.

Shy Ted
Shy Ted
February 17, 2022 11:17 am

And there was me thinking it was all about jellybeans.

Miss Anthropist
Miss Anthropist
February 17, 2022 12:40 pm

Watched the finalcut on foxtel classics the other night. I enjoyed it.
Though it has been a while since I’ve seen it.
Also on Classics watched Ulzana’s Raid the other night while readingThe Apache Wars by Hutton. Improved my enjoyment of both film and serious history book.

Miss Anthropist
Miss Anthropist
February 17, 2022 1:36 pm

Yep. Classics 1. Also has Father Ted on after midnight.

jupes
jupes
February 17, 2022 3:28 pm

Martin Sheen wears a Seiko 6105 dive watch during the film, a very popular watch among US soldiers during the war. The uniquely shaped watch has recently been reissued with updated specs as the Captain Willard SBP153 to great acclaim.

johanna
johanna
February 17, 2022 5:32 pm

A fine film, memorable for sure.

It reminds me of one of my favourite films, Fellini Satyricon (1969).

In both cases the film-makers have taken a literary work which is relatively short but full of oomph and turned the sensations up to 11. And, both are essentially a series of vignettes rather than a story in the conventional sense.

BTW, the book is well worth reading. Joseph Conrad was a Polish man who learned English as an adult and went on to become an extraordinary writer in English. IIRC (my books are in storage) it is about 100 pages and very accessible to the modern reader.

Tom
Tom
February 17, 2022 5:46 pm

Francis Ford Coppola is a film artist, but turning psychopathy into art is still psychopathy. Ceremonial slaughter of humans and animals is depraved with no redeeming features. For me, Apocalpyse Now is little different from one of Quentin Tarantino’s snuff movies.

Rt41Rebel
Rt41Rebel
February 17, 2022 5:56 pm

The saw AN for the first time at my university theater midnight show. My friends and I had dropped purple microdot shortly before. You know how there are about a dozen or so things you’ve done in your life that you will always remember as one of the most fantastic experiences you’ve ever had?

Pedro the Loafer
Pedro the Loafer
February 17, 2022 6:01 pm

Interesting how tastes in films differ.

Apocalypse Now is one of the very few films I have walked out on before the finish.

yarpos
yarpos
February 17, 2022 6:58 pm

Heart of Darkness gives a framework. There is a book called Dispatches by Michael Herr which details the madness of frontline Vietnam. Many of the scenes in Apocalypse now are lifted straight from that book IMHO

Diogenes
Diogenes
February 17, 2022 8:03 pm

The last time I watched AN on the big screen (as opposed to digging out the DVD for home viewing) was at a Sunday movie night held by the Macquarie Uni Student Union around 1982. It was with most of my platoon who just come back from a weekend ARes exercise.

The longhairs cheered every time a US soldier got hit, we out cheered them every time a NVA or VC got hit

Roger
Roger
February 17, 2022 8:21 pm

Thanks Rog.

You can google him, Rabz.

He’s pretty good.

Then think to yourself…but he’s only copying music Hendrix came up with 50+ years ago. Amazing.

dopey
dopey
February 18, 2022 7:49 pm

Every man and his dog wanted to tell you about ‘I love the smell
of….’ It became unbearable.

Louis Litt
Louis Litt
February 20, 2022 9:33 am

I don’t know why it’s an anti war film, like so many others like Platoon etc.
It showed endurance, courage and after that what do you do suffer PTSD.
It made me want to join the SAS – you can achieve anything once you did the trading and actual field work.

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