Apocalypse Now Redux (2001)

I’m doing my big paper in Senior Seminar on the effect of photographs on the war effort in Vietnam. I wanted to somehow include films – which would give me an excuse to watch movies for the next few months, lol. When I did my initial research, Apocalypse Now and The Deer Hunter would show up in my searches constantly. So then I thought I’d add do something about films too since I’m such a film geek.

Upon further reflection, my teacher and I agreed that to include films in my paper would actually make it too long. I’m not complaining ’cause I could seriously write this whole paper on films alone. But it would probably be easier to stick to one part of cultural history. So I figure I’ll do something that will challenge me. I’m only aiming for 20 pages or so. Based on the research I’ve done thus far, I have more than enough to write my paper on. My prof says I need to look at it from a more historical perspective. I’m such an English geek, lol.

I wish I had seen it all in one sitting, rather than over the course of several days.

Knowing what I know about movies in general, and because of the age in which I watched it, I feel that I’ve seen the plot of Apocalypse Now elsewhere. I haven’t read “Heart of Darkness” by Conrad, on which the film was pretty much based on. I don’t remember watching it before. But I feel like I’ve seen the plot before in another movie or read it in another book.

Perhaps what I’ve watched or read before was inspired by Apocalypse Now. I don’t think I’ll ever know. I’m racking my brain trying to remember where I’ve seen the plot of an already fucked-up assassin pursuing his target, getting in their target’s head, getting some degree of Stockholm Syndrome, but walking away from the power vacuum that his target’s assassination left behind.

“I love the smell of napalm in the morning. Smells like…. victory.” Robert Duvall is brilliant in this movie! His short appearance really sets everything up for the rest of the film and you just know what’s gonna happen next. It can only go downhill from there.

Random aside: my dad served under the officer who first deployed napalm in Vietnam. We think Dad’s exposure to the napalm in Vietnam aggravated his diabetes. His diabetes wasn’t diagnosed until he got back from his tours. So when I saw that famous monolog, my heart kinda broke. We produced these soldiers. We train them as best as we can, but ultimately, they have to make knee-jerk decisions on the battlefield. I have so much respect for people in the military because of that. People don’t know what these men and women do in the heat of the moment. I’m not sure I could do the same. But I trust them to make the right choice when given one.

Of course, the original film was released a scant 4 years after we left Vietnam officially. The wound was still fresh. It still is, especially with the prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. We compare those wars to Vietnam all the time.

So I would recommend watching it if only to know what it was like in country. Apocalypse Now gets under your skin and won’t let go. I wouldn’t say you come away with a lot because it really ends pretty succinctly. But it definitely makes you question life in general. The big one to me was would I let my demons eat me alive like they did to Willard and Kurtz?

I love when a movie leaves me with questions because it makes me take a deeper look at myself. Not a lot of movies do that anymore.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

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