So begins my WIDESCREEN FILM FESTIVAL…
First stop is a trip deep down into the heart of darkness itself.
Simply put, Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam masterpiece APOCALYPSE NOW is the epitome of a MUST SEE MOVIE. One of the most troubled film productions in cinema history, Coppola even believed it was a disaster. But film history would prove him wrong as it is revered as one of cinema’s most enduring anti-war films as well as an undeniable look inside the black heart of insanity.
Loosely based on Joseph Campbell’s novella “Heart of Darkness,” APOCALYPSE NOW follows Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) on his mission during the height of the Vietnam War to terminate the activities of Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has gone AWOL in Cambodia and fancies himself as some sort of God amongst the primitives.
But this is no ordinary mission; it will take Willard and his team into a hellish nightmare where morality has been abandoned leaving only madness as the ultimate truth.
A true movie of the times, it is visually stunning and hypnotic. It’s a slow decent into hell for both the onscreen characters and the audience as well. Coppola was attempting to make a grand statement while not being pretentious about it and he doesn’t fail at this task.
APOCALYPSE NOW utilizes a psychedelic electronic score interspersed with music by The Doors as well as Wagner’s iconic “Ride of the Valkyrie,” for a sequence that defines the absurdity of war.
Sheen and Brando play two sides of the same coin with fascinating results and Robert Duvall’s turn as the psychotic Lt. Col. Kilgore is one of cinemas greatest. The rest of the cast includes Dennis Hopper, Sam Bottoms, a teenage Laurence Fishburne and a pre-STAR WARS Harrison Ford.
APOCALYPSE NOW needs to be experienced on the big screen. I implore you to try to catch a revival screening if possible. If not, you need to watch it on the largest screen possible with a good surround system. This is a movie to experience, not just watch.