HOME |  CULT MOVIES | COMPETITIONS | ADVERTISE |  CONTACT US |  ABOUT US
 
 
 
Newest Reviews
Jules Verne's Rocket to the Moon
Man They Could Not Hang, The
Final Days
Frightened City, The
Assimilate
Sequin in a Blue Room
Common Crime, A
Into the Labyrinth
Power, The
Wake of Death
Night Orchid
Mortal
Iron Mask, The
Dinosaur
Personal History of David Copperfield, The
Dove, The
Collective
Charulata
Minari
Violation
Defending Your Life
Champagne Murders, The
He Dreams of Giants
Lost in America
Take Back
Honeydew
Banishing, The
Drifters, The
Gushing Prayer
Escape from Coral Cove
Swan Princess, The
Shortcut
Stray
Butterfly Murders, The
Pimp
Feedback
Lady is a Square, The
Zack Snyder's Justice League
Dark Rendezvous
Silk Road
   
 
Newest Articles
Meiko Kaji's Girl Gangs: Stray Cat Rock on Arrow
Having a Wild Weekend: Catch Us If You Can on Blu-ray
The Drifters: Star Lucie Bourdeu Interview
Meiko Kaji Behind Bars: Female Prisoner Scorpion on Arrow
The Horror of the Soviets: Viy on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Tarka the Otter and The Belstone Fox
Network Double Bills: All Night Long and Ballad in Blue
Chew Him Up and Spit Him Out: Romeo is Bleeding on Blu-ray
British Body Snatchers: They Came from Beyond Space on Blu-ray
Bzzzt: Pulse on Blu-ray
The Tombs Will Be Their Cities: Demons and Demons 2 on Arrow
Somebody Killed Her Husband: Charade on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Maroc 7 and Invasion
Network Double Bills: The Best of Benny Hill and The Likely Lads
Network Double Bills: Some Girls Do and Deadlier Than the Male
Absolutely Bananas: Link on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Hawk the Slayer and The Medusa Touch
The Price of Plague: The Masque of the Red Death on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Seance on a Wet Afternoon and Ring of Spies
Chaney Chillers: Inner Sanctum Mysteries - The Complete Film Series on Blu-ray
Adelphi Extras: Stars in Your Eyes on Blu-ray
Toons for the Heads: Fantastic Planet and Adult Animation
Nature Girl: The New World on Blu-ray
Network Double Bills: Perfect Friday and Robbery
Network Double Bills: The House in Nightmare Park and The Man Who Haunted Himself
   
 
  Apocalypse Now The Horror... The Horror...
Year: 1979
Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne, Albert Hall, Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper, G.D. Spradlin, Jerry Ziesmer, Scott Glenn, Bo Byers, James Keane, Kerry Rossall, Colleen Camp, R. Lee Ermey
Genre: WarBuy from Amazon
Rating:  9 (from 3 votes)
Review: Saigon, Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) was still in Saigon. After a night spent in his room getting smashed, and smashing a mirror too, he tried to blot out the reality of being stuck in the Vietnam War, not knowing how to get out of it and part of him not wanting to, although he could barely admit it to himself. But he had a new mission, as the soldiers who showed up at his door that morning told him, and after a cold shower to wake him up he was dressed and brought to the office of three powerful Americans. Here they informed him he had to undertake a search: find Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) in the jungle.

And terminate him with extreme prejudice, natch. Apocalypse Now is one of the most quotable movies of all time thanks to the quality of the dialogue, but opinions have been divided on its other merits ever since its very belated release back in the late seventies (it was nicknamed Apocalypse When? and Apocalypse Later by the sceptics). Certainly when Clint Eastwood, who had been considered for the Willard role, heard of the huge amount this cost, he reportedly observed "For that sort of money we could have invaded somewhere," and the shoot was so harrowing to all those involved that many felt that had actually been through a war.

Or at least the moviemaking equivalent. The tales of the utter chaos this degenerated into would fill a whole other film - and it did, a documentary called Hearts of Darkness, released some years later under the guidance of director Francis Ford Coppola's wife Eleanor, who saw her marriage as one of the casualties of the black hole that was this film. But put the typhoons, the corruption, Martin Sheen suffering a near-fatal heart attack, all of that to one side and watch the work on its own merits and what did you have? For some, it's a masterpiece, undoubtedly Coppola's greatest achievement and well worth the hell it took to make. But for others, it's a hopeless, pretentious muddle.

Perhaps if you go halfway between those extremes you reach the truth of Apocalypse Now, and the fact remained that it did manage to convey the texture of nightmare was more to do with the conditions Coppola and his team were labouring under for far too long in the Philippines and afterwards in the mammoth task of editing it into some kind of sense. If that was what the Vietnam War was like, and some who were there recognised it here, then it was a success on artistic terms, yet Michael Herr was brought in to muster up narration for Sheen to recite, his book Dispatches being the classic text on the conflict from someone who was indeed there, and that voiceover was one of the most notable rescue attempts on a movie ever staged.

Even with Sheen deadpanning his way through Herr's words, that method of tying it all together only went so far, and the rest of the film often betrays the pandemonium that it was manufactured through. The plot is actually quite simple, laid out by those shadowy figures at the beginning for Willard: all he has to do is sail upriver and find Kurtz, then kill him, and that's pretty much what happens up to a point. However, the devil is in the details and it's what happens on the journey, sort of a battle-weary Wizard of Oz, that makes the most impression as at every bend of the river it seems someone is there to make life difficult for him, from Robert Duvall's scene stealing officer to the spear throwing natives to Dennis Hopper's raving photographer (no act, reputedly); after all, if it had been a quiet trip it wouldn't have been quite as memorable a tale to spin.

Famously Coppola was creating a loose adaptation of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness here, which illustrated his grand ambitions and also, more sadly, how far he was from his goal as aside from a few scenes this was not up to that crepuscular standard of soul-scathing. If anything, it was the drugged up, self-centred version of Conrad, with the source seen through the haze of narcotics, just as the war is, leaving the tone starting out woozy and ending up groggy. When Brando showed up to shoot his sequences, he had his own ideas of what to do, leaving Coppola floundering in the wake of his star's whims which explains why he is never seen out of the darkness, is obviously making up his lines as he goes along, yet best represented, maybe ironically, what turmoil this production had descended into. The feeling that mere cinema faltered when trying to plumb the depths of the human condition was never more apparent than here, whether that was true or not; good luck using this as a history lesson, but as a series of hallucinations it's an accomplishment. Music by Carmine Coppola and the director.

[Optimum's Blu-ray box set of this features the original, looking pristine, the Redux extended version, and the Hearts of Darkness documentary along with a whole disc full of featurettes about the film.]
Reviewer: Graeme Clark

 

This review has been viewed 3851 time(s).

As a member you could Rate this film

 
Review Comments (0)


Untitled 1

Login
  Username:
 
  Password:
 
   
 
Forgotten your details? Enter email address in Username box and click Reminder. Your details will be emailed to you.
   

Latest Poll
Which star probably has psychic powers?
Laurence Fishburne
Nicolas Cage
Anya Taylor-Joy
Patrick Stewart
Sissy Spacek
Michelle Yeoh
Aubrey Plaza
Tom Cruise
Beatrice Dalle
Michael Ironside
   
 
   

Recent Visitors
Graeme Clark
Andrew Pragasam
Darren Jones
Enoch Sneed
  Paul Tuersley
  Chris Garbutt
  Sdfadf Rtfgsdf
Stately Wayne Manor
   

 

Last Updated: