10 things I didn’t know about Apocalypse Now

1 ) Now I see what the fuss is about Martin Sheen. Despite appearing in Platoon, which apparently is almost as good, you can see why Charlie Sheen goes through the motions in Two and a Half Men with such dead eyes.

2 ) The bit where the water buffalo is slaughtered is extremely nasty.

3 ) Like many movies of the era, the genius of the film is counterbalanced by its sheer indulgence and incoherence. If it were 120 minutes long instead of 202, it would be a better movie.

4 ) Another letdown is the hideous score. Most of the moody twiddles are okay, but there’s a 1979 synthesizer on its default setting which keeps hooning in and ruining the dramatic tension. Imagine the 21st century Vangelis soundscapes of Blade Runner, but cheaper, and in the Vietnam jungle. Doesn’t work, does it?

5 ) Some of the added Redux scenes are pretty redundant, for example, the plantation scene, which features a French family arguing around a dinner table. For ten minutes. With an accordion.

6 ) I haven’t seen the Heart of Darkness documentary, but I’m guessing you don’t achieve this level of cinematic incoherence without a shitload of drugs.

7 ) Initial exposition: the first 18 minutes of the film. Arsing about with Marlon Brando: the final 48 minutes.

8 ) For some reason, Dennis Hopper’s psychotic photojournalist reminds me of Owen Wilson.

9 ) The pre-CGI battle scenes are magnificent. Another reason this film couldn’t be made now. You’d hope that eventually someone will have a crack at an Iraq-themed version, but the trope that war is hell is pretty much a cinematic cliche, despite the continued popularity of pointless wars in real life.

10 ) I’m still not quite sure why Captain Willard steals Lieutenant Kilgore’s surfboard.


2 Responses to “10 things I didn’t know about Apocalypse Now”

  1. Kim Newman and Eugene Byrne collaborated on a series of alternate history shorts stories collected as Back in the USSA in which the US had a communist revolution instead of Russia. One story was an Apocalypse Now parody, with the British fighting American-supported Vietnamese communist forces. Instead of surfing it was cricket, and instead of ‘The Ride of the Valkyries’ , it was ‘The Teddy Bears’ Picnic.’ I wonder what drugs they were taking?

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