Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Apocalypse Now

One of the greatest war films in the history of cinema, "Apocalypse Now" delves deeply into the Vietnam War in a disturbing, bleak manner. Francis Ford Coppola pieces together a skillfully made, affecting, and existential movie that centers upon Captain Willard's military quest to kill an AWOL named Kurtz. Willard is played by Martin Sheen, and Sheen is excellent, capturing the tired emotion of a veteran who can't find his place on the battlefield, while ever longing to be on it. Kurtz is played by Marlon Brando, who was famously a difficult actor to work with. Brando is very interesting, finding a common pitch as a shaken hero who retreats to a strange palace of sorts, complete with a doting photographer (Dennis Hopper). Willard's journey is by boat, through the waters of the war, where the violence continues and his men, who are wishing to go home, don't know where Willard is off too.

Coppola's methods are odd, but effective. He mixes the battle zones and the helicopters blasting and Killgore (Robert Duvall, rightfully nominated for Best Supporting Actor) with the bleak, gothic, downtempo moments where soldiers can see what horrible effects the war has had on the forrests of Vietnam. The cinematography is terrific, by Vittorio Storaro, who finds all of the details, especially in the battle scenes. The art direction is stellar as well. The feel is very authentic, as well, and many movies try to dig from the well of this film to grab this same touch (with usually negative results). It also drifts into a non-linear, philosophical state, especially towards the end, when Willard gets to his destination. It's how to make a true war movie, that's definitely for sure. A

No comments: