Sunday, February 7, 2010

review: Apocolypse Now

I just finished watching "Act One" of the movie. Normally I would wait until the movie is over to start the review - but this movie is so intense that I need to write a bit now.
Basic Plot: Francis Ford Coppola directs the story of Captain Williard (Martin Sheen), who is in Special Forces in Vietnam and has gotten another mission. Find and destroy Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has apparently gone off the deep end.
The entire first half of the movie is about getting there. It's like a road tour of Vietnam fighting forces.
This movie is a prime example of why the Vietnam War is seen as the worst thing to happen to America. It is so powerful! You learn that Williard is just no good at being a civilian anymore after his first "tour" in Vietnam, and now he is back in Saigon just waiting for a mission. He gets one, and all the while we are learning as he is learning about Kurtz. Why he is a hunted man. But the journey is interesting. A small boat has been assigned to take him to Kurtz's general location. But they (the boat crew) don't know where they are going. It's an interesting group. The two most powerful moments thus far have to do with them. The first being a run-in with a tiger, and how it unnerves one of the crew - a saucier from New Orleans. He just freaks out a bit and you hear him scream: "I just wanna be a chef!" And it makes you think about how people innocent people get into wars like this. Dragged in - but they go, and they do their "duty" - and it destroys them.
The next most powerful moment is when they stop a fishing boat to check for enemy supplies. While searching the boat, a woman starts to run towards the saucier when he reaches for a yellow basket. Assuming the worst, and getting a little trigger happy, the gunner on the boat (a 17 year old kid from NY) starts shooting it up. Everyone on board is killed. What was the woman protecting? A puppy. So, that whole crew was innocent, and they were killed for nothing.
Another amazing part is the whole Calvary sequence. Robert Duvall is ... unexpected. "The small of Napalm in the morning" Didn't know that was from this movie. The use of Wagner is also pretty effective. You'll have to watch it to know what I mean.
Anyways, on to the next half.
okay. WTF? I can tell you the action, but I can't describe the story. You meet Kurtz, and those who follow him. The thing I don't get is what happened to him. I know what started it, but what actually happened. And what happened to all those people with him. The soldiers. They are in this near catatonic state - but what got them there? How did that happen? The thing I take most from it is that war destroyed their minds, their souls, and theirselves. Whether that is right or not, I can not tell you.
What I can tell you is this: This movie deserves to be a classic. I know this partly because it is so over my head, I also know this because it is wonderful. I mean, its not my cup of tea, but it is amazing.
The acting is outstanding. I'll leave it there. That is all I can say about it without repeating myself or using a hundred antonyms for it.
The artistic design of the movie is hard core. Not beautiful, but there is a beauty in it.
Cinematography is FANTASTIC. Some of the shots are so powerful.
Critically, it was nominated for more awards than I dare cover. It won Best Cinematography and Best Sound at teh Oscars. It is listed on AFI's Top 100 (both lists #27, then #30) as well as the napalm quote being honored as #12 in the Top 100 Quotes.
It's not my kind of thing, but I completely respect this movie.
4 out of 5 stars

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