Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Apocalypse Now: Theatrical Cut.

It's well known how difficult the shoot of Apocalypse Now, and Francis Ford Coppola's descent into insanity during it is well documented. So Apocalypse Now being clearly the work of a madman is almost a given. Don't assume that is an insult, the film is about madness and insanity, so who better than make a film about madness than someone who's going insane?

The short story - though being 157 minutes, it isn't actually a very short story - is that Martin Sheen is in the army, and is sent to kill Marlon Brando. On the way, he encounters a number of steadily less sane events and people, which somewhat prepares him for what he has to do in the end, though I suppose each event makes him that little bit more crazy. Of course, I'm skipping a lot, because I don't like plot synopses.

In essence, this is a lengthy criticism of the Vietnam war, and war in general, focused more on the mental costs of it rather than being especially political. Nobody seems to know why they fight, they just do it, and will continue to do it until they're killed themselves. They do increasingly awful things for no clear purpose other than to do them, forgetting about their humanity in the process. They become paranoid, delusional, and broken.

So, it's good then. The imagery is a strange combination of beauty and horror, the music is amazing and it probably is at least part of the reason people still care about the Doors. It's even surprisingly popular for a film that is quite disturbing, with lines and scenes being parodied and referenced pretty much everywhere.

This is a very personal project, a portrait of the mind of Francis Ford Coppola as he went steadily more insane. Even insane, he knows how to make an amazing film, with stunning imagery and a compelling story. Maybe more great directors should go to the Philippines and lose their minds if this is what results.

(I admit this is not my best entry ever. I'm in the middle of looking for a place to live, so I'm slightly distracted. Next entry will probably be better!)

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