Francis Ford Coppola is so highly synonymous with The Godfather, that folks of this generation have totally forgotten about his other masterpiece, the crown jewel in his film history Apocalypse Now! What folks do remember is that the film was grossly over budget and how Marlon Brando was paid $1 Million Dollars for his role in the closing scenes of the film. A film that was so gritty and raw centered around the most unpleasant part of the Vietnam War. Who can forget that image of a young Martin Sheen rising out of the water is full camouflage makeup. Martin Sheen would become a mega-superstar, along with Laurence Fishburne, Harrison Ford, Albert Hall, Robert Duvall (Oscar nominated for his role as Lt. Col. Bill Kilgore) and Dennis Hopper.
With the 40th Anniversary upon us, this war classic has been enhanced and remastered with the latest digital technology to enhance the movie going experience even further. Lines like ‘…crawling along the edge of a straight razor and surviving…that’s my nightmare…’ adequately capture the complexities layered within this piece and it characters. Tackling issues like the military sending boys to war, PTSD and the struggle over doing what’s expected, right or simply following order no matter what the cost.
Clocking in at nearly three hours, Apocalypse Now seems tame compared to their future counterparts, Saving Private Ryan, Platoon among a few. Groundbreaking at its time for numerous reasons, it stands the test of time with a spotlight on issues like soldiers that are too young to serve, how soldiers keep themselves entertained while being in constant danger, special treatment of celebrity after enlistment, mental illness and loyalty among other things. One of the most heartbreaking, yet telling moments of how disturbing war can be is a moment where Clean (Laurence Fishburne) has been shot in an ambush while the voice of his mother’s audio letter continues on a cassette player.
You may revisit this film for yourself when it is re-released by United Artists on August 15th