A Filmmaker's Review: "Apocalypse Now" (1979)
5/5 - A stunning cinematic experience
This is a brilliant film. There is absolutely no doubt about the fact that this film is one of the few films you can call an 'experience'. It has a brilliant set, a brilliant cast and a brilliant sound. There's something incredibly visual about it which means that the audience can get right in there and practically feel the wind from the propellers of the helicopter as "Ride of the Valkyries" plays - and pretty loudly at that. Let's take a look at my history with this film and be prepared, there's a lot to take in!
The first time I watched this film I was about 13 or 14 and well, I didn't actually see the whole thing all the way through - I started at the point where the "Ride of the Valkyries" was just about ending and the next scene was beginning. I did, however, watch it to the end and I was practically in love with it. I thought that this had to be one of the greatest depictions of human suffering since the "Raft of the Medusa" by Gericault. It was like watching that painting as a movie. People suffering indefinitely. I loved watching this movie maybe ten to fifteen more times over the course of the next decade. With the final watch (or, most recent as it were) being last night. Last night, I revisited the film and I was just as shocked as I was when I watched it the first time, almost ten years before.
"Apocalypse Now" (1979) was directed by Francis Ford Coppola and so, that's why many people like it for the first and foremost. Next, we have the cast - listing Marlon Brando's name everywhere around it even though he's only in the last half of the film seems to bring in the ratings. Martin Sheen and Robert Duvall are pretty great in this film as well, with Martin Sheen having one of the greatest (if not the greatest) performance of his career. I loved the hyper-realistic acting, I always have. It really makes you drawn to and invested in the main character and I think Martin Sheen especially, worked incredibly hard and went through some incredibly hard conditions in order to make this the performance of a lifetime. He did so well because now, nobody is going to forget that Martin Sheen was the main man in that movie.
When it comes to the cinematic experience, this film really hits it. From the bloody gore and people getting their legs blown off, to people getting shot dead and stabbed, to things exploding, helicopters crashing, people fighting, all out war and even landscapes destroyed by masses and masses of fire. Heads roll, violence reignites the set and war is literally the height of this movie. Between that and the brilliant soundtrack, this film is clearly one of the greatest films ever made. It makes not only for brilliant viewing, but if you're looking to studying cinematography and landscape design - this is the perfect movie to watch.
It's an experience that few films actually come close to. In it's cinematic greatness, we have spoken of a number of things including:
- depiction of human suffering
- acting talent
- the experience of cinema
But there are other things as well included in the realm of why this film is considered as one of the greatest movies of all time. These include:
- intensity and accuracy of scenes
- depiction of death and dying
- emotional status of the scenes
- length of the movie and the story it tells
These are things you probably want to explore in the world of watching and re-watching "Apocalypse Now" (1979). There have been several studies done on this film and I actually remember reading some back when I was a teenager. It was purely because I had three script books I bought for cheap from the bookstore clearance. One was for "Apocalypse Now" and the two others were "Goodfellas" and "The Godfather Part 2". I was pretty impressed with the fact that at the age I was, I was studying the likes of "Apocalypse Now" (1979) but in reality, I only really understand the basis of human suffering now that I've seen the film - aged almost 24. It's one of those films that you grow up learning about. The more you watch it over the years, the more your view will change towards the movie and the more you'll learn about the characters involved and how they interact with their situation.