Saturday, November 14, 2020

Apocalypse Now

Movie Name:
Apocalypse Now
Year of Release: 1979
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Starring: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms, Albert Hall, Harrison Ford, G.D. Spradlin, Jerry Ziesmer, Scott Glenn, James Keane, Colleen Camp, Cynthia Wood, Linda Carpenter, Glenn Walken, Jack Thibeau, George Cantero, Damien Leake
Genre: Drama, War
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 10
Watch it on Amazon

Synopsis and Review:
Following the acclaim of "The Godfather", "The Conversation" and "The Godfather Part II", writer/producer/director Francis Coppola tackled Joseph Conrad's novella, "Hearts of Darkness", originally envisioned as a project for George Lucas to direct and Coppola to produce. The story focuses on Captain Willard, who is given a special assignment to locate and terminate a Colonel Kurtz, in the middle of the ongoing Vietnam war. Kurt has apparently gone off the deep end, and is leading a cult like type of commune in the deep jungle. Willard is given a crew to go up the river and locate his compound, and execute his mission. While on his journey, Willard and his crew come across a variety of characters and situations, but eventually reach the compound, where what they witness goes beyond what they were led to expect.
"Apocalypse Now" is as well known as the majestic film that it is, but also for all the issues and problems that the shooting experienced (including a heart attack suffered by Martin Sheen). It was a lengthy shoot, riddled with logistical problems, something documented by Eleanor Coppola on camera which eventually made its way to the wonderful and well known documentary, "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" from Fax Bahr and George Hickenlooper. The film itself is unlike anything else ever captured on film, a mix of reflection on the horrors (and surreal aspects) of war, the depiction of a dying world (the immigration and French culture which was a part of Indochina and Vietnam), and those who refuse to accept it. It's also a timeless reflection on people coming to terms with the darkest aspects of their personality, and the horrors they unleash upon others when unchecked. It's a journey that Willard takes his crew, and us alongside, through the beauty of a devastated country, one where war and death cohabitate with the recklessness of people who think the events taking place are nothing but a detour on their drug fueled existence, or people who think war is nothing but a pit stop with entertainment coming in every so often. It's an excessive, hyperbolic film, one that captures the drama and even the comical, chaotic aspects of such a war, and does so with such beauty, and a laborious character development, which allows us to learn who those characters are, and what their journey is. Based on the book by Joseph Conrad, "Hearts of Darkness", with the adaptation hailing from Francis Coppola and John Milius, it's a journey not only into uncharted waters, but into the darkness lurking underneath unchecked power. The cinematography from Vittorio Storaro is mesmerizing, as is the entire work of the crew, including the editing from Walter Murch, Gerald B. Greenberg and Lisa Fruchtman and of course the production design of Dean Tavoularis. It's an unforgettable, mesmerizing film, from one of the most accomplished American directors.