Apocalypse Now (F. Coppola, 1979)

Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979)

I think it had been over five years since I last saw this movie, and everything I could remember about it was very vague. After re-watching it, I can see why. There is a lot to take in here, and this adventure up the river is full of chaos, even when little is happening. Let me start with the negative – Coppola over edited this film. There are several instances where shots fade in and out, overlapping each other. Many of these shots are beautiful, rivaling the prettiest outdoor photography I’ve seen in a film. But Coppola cuts these shots short, and doesn’t even let some of the shots fully materialize, which is a huge waste. I have never seen the Redux version of the film, but I’d be fine if all the additional footage is just extended takes of the beautiful images we’re teased with in this version (though I know it’s not).

Anyway, despite the editing, the film’s visual presentation is a big positive overall. Additionally, I found myself enamored with the atmosphere. On the Complete Dossier dvd set, the film is split into two parts over two discs. While it seems many die-hard fans are outraged by this decision, I thought it sort of enhanced the film. The first half is more heavily focused on battle and action, and there are numerous characters, all of whom are basically normal people. As the group makes its way up the river, we see less and less of outside civilization, and after the break, we have exited normal civilian life altogether. All that’s left is a stop at a military post gone berserk, and the final destination of the native tribe worshiping an American soldier as a god. Even the silent moments mixed in between are tense and other-worldly. Throughout the entire adventure, Martin Sheen gives an outstanding performance, channeling a strong sense of calmness despite the chaos. Some of my favorite scenes involved him just taking in his surroundings. I’m glad I finally saw this again; it was well worth it.  9.25/10


2 Responses to “Apocalypse Now (F. Coppola, 1979)”

  1. Kyle King Says:

    That’s a pretty high rating. I just might have to see this again now. Though the only time I’ve watched it was in a classroom at KU, on a little TV, for a Joseph Conrad literature course. Since I’m a Conrad fanatic, I probably dismissed it out of hand as too unfaithful to the book… 🙂

    • chrisfilm Says:

      Oh, I’m sure it is unfaithful to the book, but I wouldn’t know. 🙂 Still, it makes for good cinema if you can somehow separate the two.

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