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Films to See Before You Die: #38 Apocalypse Now

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Apocalypse Now (1979)

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Cast: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford

Synopsis: It is the height of the war in Vietnam, and U.S. Army Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is sent by Colonel Lucas (Harrison Ford) and a General to carry out a mission that, officially, ‘does not exist – nor will it ever exist’. The mission: To seek out a mysterious Green Beret Colonel, Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando), whose army has crossed the border into Cambodia and is conducting hit-and-run missions against the Viet Cong and NVA. Believing Kurtz has gone completely insane the army intends to send Willard in to elminate him. Willard, sent up the Nung River on a U.S. Navy patrol boat, discovers that his target is one of the most decorated officers in the U.S. Army. Willard and his platoon meet Lt-Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall), head of a U.S Army helicopter cavalry group who is obsessed with surfing which eliminates a Viet Cong outpost to provide an entry point into the Nung River. After some hair-raising encounters, in which some of his crew are killed, Willard, Lance and Chef reach Colonel Kurtz’s outpost, beyond the Do Lung Bridge. When Willard and his men are captured by Kurtz who is treated like a god it becomes clear that their mission is in risk of failing.

Trivia: Francis Ford Coppola believed that Marlon Brando was familiar with Joseph Conrad’s “Heart of Darkness” and had prepared for the role before the legendary actor arrived on the set. When Brando did come out, Coppola was horrified to find that Brando had never read “Heart of Darkness”, did not know his lines, and had become extremely fat (Kurtz had always been written as a tall but starvingly-thin man). After some panicking, Coppola decided to film the 5’10” Brando as if he was a massively built, 6’5″ brute (to explain Brando’s size) and steered the camera clear of Brando’s huge belly.

Why I think you should see this: Francis Ford Coppola is one of the best filmmakers of all time and probably the best director of the 1970’s. This is a harrowing take on the Vietnam War as it was  one of the first to show how much the carnage of the war effected these young soldiers. This is a very effective film that makes you feel like you are right there in the mud with Willard. Both Martin Sheen and Marlon Brando are great in this and so is Dennis Hopper in his small role. This movie is a classic in every sense of the word check it out sometime.

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About Trevor

Hi my name is Trevor and this is my blog! Films are a passion of mine. I am a total film geek. I own over 700 films and the collection is ever growing. I studied Film Studies and Scriptwriting in College. What I have learned about films is mostly self taught.

9 responses to “Films to See Before You Die: #38 Apocalypse Now

  1. Do you prefer the original or the Redux version?

  2. jmount43 ⋅

    I love this film; but it took me a long time to come to that point. It’s a great film that for some reason I just couldn’t warm up to right away. Great post, bro!

  3. Valerie Fulford ⋅

    I saw this film when it first came out in theatres and it was such a powerful film, it astonished most people. What an amazing film, saw the redux recenty and loved it too.

  4. Great movie, never tire of watching it.

  5. Saw this one when I was…well, a long time ago! The images are still very clear! And of course everybody remembers the helicopter scene with the music of the Walkyren, wasn’t it?

  6. rMU

    I first watched this film when I had started reading TS Elliot’s poetry and after that, the Kutrz references totally drove me locco. Love this one!

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