Apocalypse Now (1979)

reviewed by
Shannon Patrick Sullivan


Directed by Francis Ford Coppola. Screenplay by John Milius and Coppola, based on the novel "Heart Of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad, with narration by Michael Herr. Starring Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall. Running time: 202 minutes. Rated R for offensive language throughout by the MFCB. Reviewed on October 8th, 2001.


Synopsis: In the midst of the Vietnam War, Captain Willard (Sheen) is ordered to travel upriver into Cambodia in search of Colonel Walter Kurtz (Brando), who went AWOL and fled into the jungle. En route, Willard is witness to many of the horrors the war has wrought upon the countryside, and upon the men and women brought in to wage it.

Review: Few movies are so shattering as "Apocalypse Now". It tells of a journey up a river, but in reality it is a journey into the very heart of madness. Each stop is more evidence of this: a colonel obsessed with surfing, an attack on the boat not with gunfire but with arrows and spears, a final American outpost manned by soldiers long since descended into insanity. And it all ends with Kurtz, raising a kingdom of the mad in the midst of the jungle, who does not just recognise the insanity of war, is not just a victim of it, but who thrives upon it. Sheen and Brando are outstanding. One plays a steely professional, the other a philosophical monomaniac, but both are crazy in their own way. "Apocalypse Now Redux" extends the lengthy film by about forty minutes, if anything accentuating the dreamlike atmosphere of the narrative. Some new scenes work, like a delirious second encounter with the Playboy bunnies and extra commentary by Kurtz. But the longest new segment, set at a French plantation house, jars us out of the rhythm of the story; even the hypnotic incidental music becomes trite and inappropriate. When I first saw "Apocalypse Now", I was unsure whether I truly liked it, but my appreciation for Coppola's triumph has only increased in the intervening years. "Redux" is not a stronger film, but it is a no less effective and mesmerising cinematic experience.

Copyright 2001 Shannon Patrick Sullivan. Archived at The Popcorn Gallery, http://www.physics.mun.ca/~sps/movies.html

| Shannon Patrick Sullivan | shannon@mun.ca | +---------------------------------+---------------------------------+ / Doctor Who: A Brief History of Time (Travel) go.to/drwho-history \ \__ We are all in the gutter but some of us are looking at the stars __/

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