30th anniversary showing
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
, Wood St.
One of the great antiwar movies of the 70s or my generation at least
that left a trail of debris among its key players and actors bringing
together old chums from the godfather Duvall and Brando Coppola put on
screen a testament to us power military hardware and the combined effects
of them on the person of both Colonel Kurtz (Brando) and Captain Willard
(Sheen) both retracing the heart of darkness Josephs Conrad study of colonialism
in the early 20th century scramble for Africa.
But to describe it as war film or anti war film is incorrect it would
be too simple, an action movie maybe yes, the pace however is a slow build
up of the journey of one mans destiny and another's fate as they both
intertwine and connect. “Snaking like a mains circuit cable plugged
into the heart of Kurtz.”
Both men closely paralleling the US policy of colonialism around the
world as Vietnam the defeat that scarred a generation of American confidences
in the capitalist system and way of life.
As Willard reports on seeing playgirls dancing for see starved us marine
corps grunts fighting each other to touch or get near the flesh of these
desirables he reflects sagely “victory or death” is their
way Vietcong attitudes their idea of a little Rn R was “cold rice
and some rat meat”, admiring his enemies grit and determination
he begins to appreciate kurtz and his “unsound methods.”
This symmetry of the opposites is sublimely recorded as the ambitious
young disaffected officer is drawn almost hero worship style to his assassins
assignment or the “termination with extreme prejudice” job.
Covert operations never sounded so cool or sexy alas to think of this
as James bond stuff would be silly, the grim brutal nature of the men
on their respective missions leaves no stone unturned, plenty of dehumanizing
killing in cold blood to sounds of Doors the ultimate apocalypse soundtrack
as you enter hell. This is the descent into dantes inferno writ large,
a personal odyssey of all perhaps involved in the madness of any war.
Apocalypse now! This is in fact daubed on the wall as they arrive at
Kurtzs enclave along with countless decapitations and a stone free Dennis
hopper playing the time life photographer gone native and idol worshiping
reminiscent of Charles Manson and his followers. US fighting proxy wars
against so called evil totalitarian regimes and anti communist crusades
(sound familiar ) in the process becoming those monsters themselves they're
trying to replace at least the generals.
General Kilgore played superbly by Robert Duvall famously utters the
great lines “Charlie don't surf”, and “Napalm I love
the smell of fresh napalm in the morning it smells of...victory”
or “one day this war is gonna be over son” he epitomizes the
random brutality and absurdity as he takes on the mission to help capt
n Willard find Kurtz , because he has the surfer Lance Armstrong in his
The layer of disaffected young people at odds with there elders that
led to Woodstock the anti war movement the revolutionary times as the
body-bags from this far away war came to life on the tv screens every
night as they were to sent to be slaughtered like their parents had duly
done in the patriotically indoctrinated line of duty. Kill our enemy Nazis
not this time but peasant farmers that refused to give in. the American
way never sounded so persuasive.
When you consider the average age of the us marine soldiers was 19, but
many even younger,you feel for the character of Clean, a 17 yr old young
Lawrence Fishburne (Neo of Matrix fame) killed as they play his mothers
tape warning him to “watch his heiny”.
This observation of Willard pertinent to the point “some of these
kids are half baked one foot in the grave rock n rollers” while
youthful clean who “busts his balls” hails “from some
south Bronx shit hole were the light and space of Vietnam as put the zap
on his head.
The scene of helicopters attacking the village with ride of the Valkyries
coming over the tannoy is disturbing yet also balletic, like Stanley Kubricks
droog fight scenes in “Clockwork Orange”, all choreographed
to classical music. This psyop tactic powerfully reinforces the fear and
dread of the operation, collateral bombing supplemented by strafing with
napalm, 3 million tonnes of which was dropped on Vietnam.
So its significance to today why watch it with Britain jumping at the
leash to savage some regime not practicing capitalist democracy or as
they put it regime change in the world of embedded photographers and journalists
these bing the trigger words replacing cold war fear of communist godless
atheist takeover led via Stalin entrenched in the Kremlin hellbent on
creating a totalitarian Orwellian planet or so they'd have you believe
imposing their wills and ways on freedom loving US citizens. Todays audience
may not be so naïve to believe the jargon are not so awestruck and
believe in this method that is if they have one it seems more a war for
oil or resources in the more consumptive societies of the west.
Anywhere not sporting McDonalds fast food chains and other attributes
of western democracy like muggings violent crime rape etc previously out
of their sphere of influence is now up for a forced change note Libya
as the new bogeyman this is what democracy looks like. The horror! the
Comment left by daz on 11th July, 2011 at 18:29
Great review of one of my favourite madness of war films. No clean cut good and bad guys this one.