¨I love the smell of napalm in the morning.¨
There is no doubt that Apocalypse Now will be considered by many as one of the best films of all time because it is a very memorable and unique film. It feels surreal at times and has some great performances. It`s also hard to define what genre the film belongs to because it doesn’t seem to have a structure or a pattern we find in other films. Apocalypse Now is a classic and powerful film, but I really wasn’t blown away by it and didn’t enjoy it very much. The problem I had with it was that I watched the Redux version which is almost one hour longer than the original, so there were several moments that seemed to drag forever. What I did enjoy about this movie was the first hour which I felt was an absolute masterpiece. Those first sixty minutes were a lot of fun and had the best moments in the movie. Then the next two hours dragged way too much with all the surrealism. I got the point, the soldiers were getting crazy over the minute and the film succeeds tremendously in pointing that out as we see how nonsensical this war really was. The minds of these men seemed to be lost completely and there was chaos reigning all over the place. For me nothing will replace those brilliant first sixty minutes with a performance from Robert Duvall for the ages. He was perfect in those few scenes he was in and I wish the film would`ve dealt with him instead. The entrance in the helicopters with the classical music and then the surfing in the middle of the war zone was so hilarious; one of the best scenes in film history. I was really feeling good about this movie, until the film went completely in another direction and lost my interest.
The movie takes place during the Vietnam War and it begins with a voice over narration of the main character, Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen), who has recently returned from the United States to continue fighting. He is beginning to lose his mind while he awaits his mission. He says all he wanted to do when he was in the jungle was return home, and once he was home all he wanted was to return to the jungle. War has taken its toll on him. Finally he receives a new mission from Colonel Lucas (Harrison Ford) that is highly classified. He has to go down the Nung River all the way to Cambodia and find a former Colonel who has seemed to have lost his mind and gone haywire. He has built an army of his own and is killing off several Viet Cong officials without taking orders from anyone. Colonel Lucas wants Captain Willard to locate Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) and kill him. Willard is sent on his mission along with a Navy patrol boat to escort him. Chief Phillips (Albert Hall), Chef Hicks (Frederic Forrest), Lance Johnson (Sam Bottoms) a known surfer, and Clean Miller (Laurence Fishburne) are Captain Willard`s only companions on this classified mission. In order to begin their course down the river they first have to infiltrate a Viet Cong outpost so Lt. Kilgore (Robert Duvall) and his cavalry help them do so. As Captain Willard and his men begin their descent through the river they come across several bases (friendly and enemy) and the further down we go the more chaotic and wild things begin to get.
The descent through the Nung River was probably my least favorite part of the film. I enjoyed much more the scenes with Lt. Kilgore and his men that helped them begin their mission. Duvall as Lt. Kilgore steals the movie and he is brilliant in every scene. He is more concerned with surfing than he is with the actual War. It`s as if he is living in an alternate reality. This is just a small glimpse of what we are going to see further on in the movie as we encounter different outposts that seem to get weirder every time. Everything is escalating up to the very end and seems to get more and more chaotic thus making the title, Apocalypse Now, very appropriate. This isn’t your typical war movie, people are losing their minds and the film becomes more and more surreal and harder to fit into one specific genre. Francis Ford Coppola was at the top of his game during the 70`s with The Godfather films and you can see how brilliantly directed the scenes were. The cinematography and lighting was excellent. The reason I don’t give this film a higher grade despite admitting it is a memorable and unique movie is because I really wasn’t entertained that much with it. It would be hard to watch it again, unless I could just see that first hour with Robert Duvall. The all star cast makes it a little easier to watch: Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper, and Laurence Fishburne.