Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Why Haven't I Seen That?: APOCALYPSE NOW

Welcome to a new installment of WHY HAVEN'T I SEEN THAT?, where we talk about a must-see or iconic movie that we have never seen...until now. This week Sammy will be visiting the horror, the horror, the horror...of Francis Ford Coppola's incredible, intense, terrifying APOCALYPSE NOW.  Enjoy.

During the Vietnam War, the young American Captain Willard is given the assignment to hunt down and kill one of his own: Colonel Kurtz, who has apparently gone insane, murdered hundreds of innocent people and constructed a strange kingdom for himself deep in the jungle. Willard and his crew embark on a surreal river journey to find Kurtz, meeting along the way a Lieutenant Colonel who surfs during live combat, Playboy bunnies dropped in by helicopter to entertain rowdy troops, and the inhabitants of a French plantation trapped in colonial times.

I was expecting greatness, and I got greatness. Apocalypse Now is probably the most harrowing war film I have ever seen. From the first frames, set to "The End" by The Doors, you feel a sense of unease and terror.

Captain Willard, played exceptionally by Martin Sheen, is our protagonist, and because from the beginning we see him falling into despair because he misses Vietnam, we feel sorry for this guy, and because of that we root for him throughout the 147 minutes of the film.

And boy, does he go through a lot of scary stuff!

From ambushes to being intimidated/taunted by a crazed Marlon Brando (who is awesome in the brief 20-25 minutes of screen time he has at the end), Willard endures what most of us wouldn't dream of enduring, and that I think is the best thing about Apocalypse's unnerving realism.

The film has been noted for it's uncanny resemblance to the real life Vietnam war, and I can totally see why. Some parts of the film, particularly the scene where Willard, his crew, and Robert Duvall's character (who is great here) raid a village, or what some call, "The Ride Of The Valkyries", set to Wagner music. It is one of the most horrifying scenes in the film, depicting the death and destruction of this village, yet so glorious to watch for it's stunning cinematography and beautiful musical choice. Definitely one of the most ambitious scenes in film history.

Coppola directs Apocalypse Now immensely well. He crafts a story that is intriguing, because of the mystery of Brando's insane Kurtz character, and engrossing, because of the scale of the war, and there is never a dull moment.

The film does not go 10 minutes without an exciting scene, which absolutely furthers along the narrative.

The scene with the playboy bunnies, isn't only fun, and perhaps a moment of levity, but also tells the audience, that when some of the soldiers run up on the stage, that this war has turned them into different people, people who have lost the sense of public awareness.

There are multiple moments in this film that are worth noting before I end my review. The scene where...SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS!!!!...Chef and Willard are attacked by a tiger, and then, when they are safe on the boat, Chef breaks down about how he just wanted to cook broke my heart. Also, SPOILERS again, the scene where Laurence Fishburne's (who is really solid here, he was even great when he was 17!) character Mr Clean, the youngest of the crew, is shot to death and the chief cries over his dead body, whilst the narration of his mother's letter to him plays, was heartbreaking as well.

Overall, I can't find a flaw with Apocalypse Now. That doesn't mean it is a perfect movie...but it is pretty damn close!

Also, side note, Harrison Ford is in the beginning as a character named Colonel. G. Lucas... Get it?, Get it?!

Sammy's Score: 10/10

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