An Epic Evaluation of Apocalypse Now

In 1979, Francis Ford Coppola unleashed a film that reshaped the view of the American Vietnam struggle. The film was heralded as an epic of modern movie. However, is it truly an epic or is that term turn into a extensively used word for nice works of cinema? Does Apocalypse Now include the epic criteria of faith, a journey, a vast setting, a sense of supernatural and different key factors? The journey in Apocalypse Now is Captain Benjamin Willard’s mission to assassinate Army Colonel Walter Kurtz.

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The former Green Beret has abandoned his command and now leads a rogue military of commandos and Montagnard, the indigenous folks of the central highlands of Vietnam(Human Rights Watch). This movie is also a journey into the darkness of the human soul. As Willard travels up the river he spends most of his time reading the Army’s file on the rogue Kurtz who has been deemed insane after his use of “unsound methods. ” Willard tries to understand the actions of Kurtz, and as the film progresses, Willard experiences more and more of the absurdities and immorality of warfare that lead him to grasp the villainous Kurtz.


His understanding comes along with his own decent into near madness. After he senselessly kills a peasant woman on a sampan Willard states, “It was the method in which we had over right here of dwelling with ourselves. We’d reduce them in half with a machine gun and provides them a Band-Aid. It was a lie— and the more I noticed of them the extra I hated lies.

” These words sound as if they have been uttered by the insane Kurtz. The setting for Apocalypse Now is the fictional Nung River(Milks). Most of the movie takes place on a Navy river patrol boat (PBR) with a four-man crew.

The captain, Chief, a navy man who follows protocol to a “T”and feels personally liable for the destiny of his crew. He blames Willard for the predicament that they find themselves in. Clean is a seventeen-year-old mechanic from the South Bronx. He is symbolic of the young males that fought in Vietnam that have been ignorant to the methods of war and solely waste time ready to end their service careers. Chef, a saucier from New Orleans, who emphatically doesn’t need to be on this strange land and Lance, a California surfer, make up the remainder of the crew. Lance and Chef’s use of rugs and placement in the primitive jungle assist them withdraw from the struggle round them as the movie proceeds(Milks). This is symbolic of how lots of the drafted youth felt in Vietnam. The film begins in the Greek tradition of en medias res. It opens with captain Willard in an alcohol induced depressive state in a resort room in Saigon in 1968. He already completed one tour of duty in Vietnam only to return home and be miserable with the confines of civilization. He states, “I was discharged from the army 4 years ago. I went home, wasted some time, bought a Mustang Mach 1, drove it per week. Then I re-upped for an additional tour. No, every little thing I love is right here. ”

He has been irrecoverably modified by the warfare. He feels that the jungle is the one place he belongs and he cannot wait to get back in motion, “Every minute I keep on this room I get weaker. And each minute Charlie squats in the bush he gets stronger. ” The film does not follow all the rules of an Epic within the Greek sense. In the beginning, Willard doesn’t invoke the muses and the only religion is the Montagnards belief in Kurtz as a god. The movie incorporates no epic lists and the movie just isn’t divided into twenty-four books.

The solely division in the film might be seen within the different episodes the crew faces touring up river. The first is the rendevous with Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore, commander of the Air Ninth Calvary. Then, the tiger assault within the jungle, the U. S. provide depot complete with Playboy Playmates, the French rubber plantation, the small sampan, and the traditional temple where Kurtz resides. Each event adds to the mayhem of the journey and creates a darker temper for the movie. The narrator and protagonist of the movie is Captain Willard. However, he isn’t the epic hero as a end result of he doesn’t meet the criteria.

He is male, and he does have a task to complete, but that’s about his solely heroic traits. First, in terms of power, he does not possess excellent bodily energy, nor is he mentally strong. As a personality is kind of passive, every little thing he does is influenced by someone, or something else. When he takes the mission he says, “What the hell else was I gonna do? ” On the PBR, he withdraws himself from the actions of the crew, and spends most of his time studying the file on Kurtz, attempting to get into the thoughts of his target. This solely places him in a extra indifferent state.

At Kurtz’s compound he is swayed by the teachings of Kurtz and makes the audience ponder if he’ll certainly perform his mission, or be part of Kurtz’s group. Lance, in addition to the last assassin sent to kill Kurtz, did just that. Willard confesses “It was the strangest thing — I don’t know that I can explain it. Two of my men useless and all I may think of was whether Kurtz was lifeless too. That’s all I wished: to see Kurtz, to hear Kurtz. ” Kurtz truly helps make that decision for him. Kurtz is weary of his life as a demigod and is anticipating, and actually welcoming his dying. You came up my river — in that small boat. So easy. I always thought the ultimate justice would come from the sky, like we did. You are the ultimate justice, aren’t you? ” In one episode, on a sampan, a small fishing boat, Willard reveals his true moral state. When Clean opens fire killing several civilians in a botched search of the boat, Chief decides to take the lone survivor, a peasant girl, to a military base for medical consideration. Willard, pondering only of his mission, kills the woman in order that she will not impede his journey to assassinate Kurtz.

This event causes the the rest of the crew to turn on him and cast a dark shadow over Willard. When Chef asks, “When you kill cong, don’t you’re feeling something? ” Willard responds, “Sure, recoil… I feel the recoil of my rifle. ” This assertion alone solidifies the truth that Willard isn’t a fundamentally good soul. The supernatural is a crucial factor in any Epic. In Apocalypse Now, the supernatural pertains extra to a detachment from reality than to a ghost, miraculous occasions, or the common notion of the supernatural. In this sense, the movie is rife with the supernatural.

First Kilgore’s calvary, the surfing calvary cost into battle listening to the “Ride of the Valkyries. ” Kilgore boasts, “We’ll come in low, out of the rising sun, and a couple of mile out, we’ll placed on the music… Yeah, I use Wagner – scares the hell out of the slopes! My boys love it! ” The music and the surfing are utterly misplaced in the war-torn jungles of Vietnam. However, this is just the primary cease on the tour of mass mayhem. Later in the movie, the PBR comes throughout the stays of a rubber plantation. This is a plantation run by the de Marais household, a maintain over from the French colonization of Indochina.

In the middle of a struggle zone, a family is making an attempt to carry onto a piece of property in a rustic by which they aren’t natives. Several of their family members have given their lives for that property and they imagine they’ve just as a lot as a claim to it than anyone else. Even when a family member makes a symbolic gesture that makes a press release about America’s involvement in Vietnam and cracks an egg, which represents Indochina, lets the egg white run out and exclaims, “White goes, yellow stays! ” The symbolism is poignantly blunt. It is surreal that they even try to maintain their property.

Also, they try to preserve their heritage in talking French and having a tradition plantation life with out interference from the surface world. The scene, including the burial of Clean is rife with symbolism and detachment from reality. The boat heads additional up river and reaches an outpost the place American forces are testing Einstein’s principle of madness. Einstein as quickly as mentioned, “The definition of insanity is doing the same factor time and again and anticipating a unique outcome. ”(Moncur) Each night time the Viet Cong bomb a bridge and each day the G. I. s rebuild it.

All of the troopers at this base are either scared or confused, these that are not, are high on drugs. The coloured flares and tracer rounds add to the consequences of the psychedelic drugs and the whole theater of battle is in complete chaos. Finally, Kurtz’s compound is the scene of whole lack of reality. Rotting corpses hold from the tress, and heads litter the traditional temple. The scene is surreal. A burnt out picture journalist exclaims how nice Kurtz is, seemingly oblivious to the mayhem round him. The man himself is a bigger than life all-powerful character.

He stays within the shadows for nearly every scene and quotes poetry from T. S. Eliot. He is the all powerful in this land although he’s gone over the sting mentally, spiritually, and physically. He is supernatural. The film as an entire doesn’t fit the standards of an epic within the Greek tradition. However, it is an awesome story of a man’s journey into the physical unknown of a strange land that forces him to search inside himself for some type of morality in the difficult circumstances of struggle. Willard is a stranger in a strange land, even to himself.

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