This review begins a series of reviews I've been meaning to tackle for years now, only due to them being major titles in the film industry that I've personally just never bothered with - the big Vietnam titles. What I mean by this, is just about anything that 'Tropic Thunder' took inspiration from. An odd thing to think about, considering how much I love that movie. Anyway, it hasn't been so much a total lack of interest, but other things have just held my interest more, over the years.
Starting things off with 'Apocalypse Now', we get the deep, dark, and even pretty scary side of things when we see what war can do to one's sanity. A Green Baret Colonel named Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando) is seen as gone insane after leading his army over the border into Cambodia, and conducting hit and run missions against the Viet Cong and the NVA. He acts like a sort of demi-god over a group of tribal natives, and Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) is sent by a Colonel Lucas (Harrison Ford) to eliminate Kurtz.
Willard's crew meets with a surfer-type Lt- Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall), who provide them with an entry point into the Nung river after napalming the hell out of a Viet Cong outpost. Willard, and his crew consisting of Lance (Sam Bottoms), "Chef" (Frederic Forrest), "Mr. Clean" (Laurence Fishburne - absolutely unrecognizable here) and Chief Phillips (Albert Hall) head upriver to complete the mission, running into some nasty obstacles along the way, and learning very quickly to never get out of the boat.
As the movie unfolds, it's almost as though it's a slow dive into insanity, itself. What made this movie so creepy, at least for me, was just the sheer strangeness of it all - especially when we get into around the last half of the film. Once we meet the likes of Kurtz and a random Photojournalist (Dennis Hopper) things kinda take you for a psychological ride, and Brando makes things really weird, really quick.
I have to admit that, considering the different cuts of this film, I went with the original. So yeah, there's likely a whole whack of interesting stuff I missed out on, but I wanted to keep it simple. I mean, two and a half hours is still a long movie. Plus I'd be more interested to see what was added later, with a movie like this.
With eight Oscar noms, winning two (Cinematography and Sound), and going down in history as just one of those titles everyone knows, and can reference without seeing. "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" has since become one of the most famous lines in film history, along with "The horror, the horror!" So it ends up being one of those titles one should probably see if one wants to write film reviews. But, I mean, that's also the core concept of this "catching up" page.
It's a pretty remarkable film, and Francis Ford Coppola does a brilliant directing job here, making his audience feel more and more uneasy about things the more the film goes. It really is like Willard and his crew are sailing down this river of madness, sort of reaching a peak once they reach their destination. It's not often that a film can just do that sort of thing to my mind, but I have to commend any film that can - that is, genuinely make me feel something, but not on a psychological level, not an emotional one. There's a reason this movie is pretty legendary.