This post is in the theme Influences on my own Creative Work. Read the first.
January 2, New York: Now this is a movie.
From the opening strains of “This is the End” over the helicopters and the exploding treeline, Apocalypse Now sends shivers down my spine. As a young, aspiring filmmaker I watched this film countless times. Its technique is incredible, the performances are jaw-dropping, and it is just the most fucked-up vision of insanity in war you’ve ever laid eyes on.
Every actor is incredible. Martin Sheen’s breakdown performance at the start of the film, Robert Duvall’s catch-phrase-laden Kilgore, cool cat Laurence Fishburne dancing all over the deck of the boat. Hell, look, there’s young Harrison Ford in that early scene with the creepy soft-faced spook who only ever delivers one line: “Terminate with extreme prejudice.”
As a young man I saw this film as a text with infinite opportunities to learn from. As a film it is an unalloyed masterpiece. I saw that again today with perhaps one addition: as a kid I never appreciated the genocidal disaster that was the Belgian Congo as told in the source text Heart of Darkness. There is an unsubtle political statement here in connecting Vietnam to the Congo that I missed the first time around.
You should go re-watch this movie. You should do that right now.