Apocalypse Now (1979)
Reviewed on 2011 January 25
Francis Ford Coppola’s telling of the Joseph Conrad novel Heart of Darkness is a slam-dunk, whether you go with the 153-minute cut or the slightly overly-padded but still excellent 202-minute Redux version.
Lieutenant Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen) is sent, hangover and all, for a special assignment. His job is a black ops trip to retrieve Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who apparently went native and/or crazy and set up his own little empire in Cambodia, and to “terminate with extreme prejudice”. As he reads his dossier and takes in the brutality of the war, and sees the grip of sanity loosening on the men around him, Willard wonders why Kurtz is considered such a menace. He can’t be any worse than the things he’s already witnessed.
The ending veers towards anti-climax after the first two hours of brutality and insanity of war, and then revs up again. Great source material, a great cast, and ’60s rock alternated with a cold synthesizer score that fits like a glove make this a classic. This grabs me from the beginning, with the whupwhupwhup of the helicopter bleeding into Jim Morrison singing “The End” as the napalm burns the jungle. Coppola sets the mood of this thing before two full minutes have even elapsed. This got several Oscar® nods, two wins, and left a huge stamp on pop culture. People still quote Robert Duvall’s crazy, surfing Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore.
Three chocolate morsels and something with coconut.