Apocalypse Now

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I think I’m right in saying that a three year film shoot is enough to make any cast or crew member go insane, no doubt all the cast and crew who worked together on Francis Ford Coppola’s epic ‘Apocalypse Now’ would verify this.

After months of speculation Hollywood’s doubters were convinced the plug was to be pulled on Coppola’s expensive but slowly refining project. Especially after actor Martin Sheen became seriously ill following a heart attack on location in the Philippines.

Dozen’s of crewmembers were also feeling the strain including the inspirational director himself. Somehow and from somewhere they managed to pull everything together, get Sheen back on location and complete a film, which was to simply become a legend.

Based on the novella ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad, ‘Apocalypse Now’ focuses on army Captain ‘Willard’ (Sheen) who, after weeks of wishing for an assignment, is finally handed a tour of duty, which would plunge him into the depths of the Cambodian jungle. Wishes don’t always come true.

His mission is to track down a rogue colonel named Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando in what I and most others believe to be his last critically acclaimed performance. Kurtz has broken away from his unit forming an army of tribesmen creating a sanctuary of their own. Willard’s instruction is to find Kurtz and “terminate his command”.

Willard climbs aboard a patrol boat who’s crew would become his company for the foreseeable future. Accompanied by a selection of dossiers on Kurtz, Willard begins the long journey into the heart of the jungle. As the trip transpires Willard encounters some memorable characters including Colonel Kilgore’s ‘surfing’ unit and a spurious pot-smoking photojournalist, played by Dennis Hopper. Although some might argue whether Hopper actually ‘acted’ this part or merely played himself.

As Willard’s journey takes him deeper into the jungle he begins to think like Kurtz, taking in the colonel’s dossiers as the horrors of war and innocence unfold in front of him causing inner conflict. Willard’s perception and mood towards a mad, ineffectual war slowly changes as his feelings reach the surface.

This is a war movie but don’t let that put you off if you aren’t that way inclined. ‘Apocalypse Now’ is first and foremost a characterisation of individuals who have suffered and who are suffering at the hands of combat. Every role in this movie is played with perfection from Sheen’s ‘Willard’ to a very young and inexperienced Laurence Fishburne as ‘Tyrone Miller’ a member of Willard’s unit accompanying him on his mission, and lets not forget Robert Duvall’s brilliant ‘Colonel Kilgore’.

Going back to my earlier points about the length of time it took to make this picture and all the trials and tribulations of putting Coppola’s classic together, the “will they” “won’t they” of the doubters who thought Coppola’s chance had run its course. The conclusion is that today what we are left with is nothing short of a masterpiece and if the fact that this film took so long to make could be overlooked from time to time then maybe any negativity that has surrounded this picture in the past would diminish.

“I love the smell of Napalm in the morning. The smell, you know that gasoline smell. Smells like victory.” – Colonel Kilgore.

Stuart Evans

Can't agree more prospero.

cheers for your comments


Thanks for the review, This has been a favourite of mine since I first saw it.
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I've only seen it once, and it was the original version; but I thought it was a really great war film, and come to think about it; just a great film in general
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Murderous Whirlwind of Wit
Good piece. The original is far beyond in any comparison to the redux.

Have you seen "Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse" directed by Eleanor Coppola? This doc shows the savage trials and tribulations of such an epic film within every aspect of production, coinciding with the latest depiction with different results of course in Keith Fulton and Louis Pepe's "Lost in La Mancha". It is in every filmmaker's/cinephile's interest to see this, along with Les Blank's compelling documentary on Herzog's "Fritzcarraldo" entitled "Burden of Dreams", a must see.

It is sad to say but (with respect to The Godfather") this was the climax cinematically for the infamous Francis Ford, later settling for second rate cinema. "Apocalypse Now" to "Jack"?

It seems to be a trend among the successful American Directors of the seventies.

Good work conflictscripts.


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Well, Apocalypse Now is one of the best movies ever made in my opinion. I love it! And I too think it is better than the Redux version.
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Originally Posted by Piddzilla
Well, Apocalypse Now is one of the best movies ever made in my opinion. I love it! And I too think it is better than the Redux version.
I myself have only seen the redux version. I know it is a complete re-edit from the start, but apart from the new scenes, have there been any changes to the scenes present in the original release. I know i should find a copy and watch myself, but...

...that is why I have you guys to shed some light.

The film I see in the redux is as good as you make out the original to be, in my oppinion.
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Originally Posted by movie_monkey
The film I see in the redux is as good as you make out the original to be, in my oppinion.
I have seen both, there isn't much between them really, but then that is only my opinion hey, I could be wrong.

Of course with all changes to movies, special, extended or redux editions there will be some people who make a stand against such things (most notable Star Wars), a theory of my for that is because they come close to the piece and feel the film makers are butchering something of there own.

Again with Star Wars, I read of lots of people who say George Lucas should be stopped for the changes...for the changes made to his own films!!! He has the right to alter his movies any way he sees fit for his overall visual picture. But if you don't like it then stick with the original VHS of the films.

Apocolypse Now is a fantastic film, as with the additions is still the same film, yet with more for our viewing pleasure.

I guess that is all I have to say.