Apocalypse Now? More like Apocalypse After Two And A Half Hours! My insatiable desire to watch classic films led Alex and I to put on Francis Ford Coppola’s memorable 1979 war movie, hailed as the most epic of its genre. Armed with Leffe, we travelled through the screen into a world of napalm, helicopters and countless cutscenes.
As a war film, Apocalypse Now has astonishingly little to do with war. The protagonist Benjamin Willard, played by Martin Sheen, is called upon to travel a vast distance by river and take down a psychotic colonel, played by Marlon Brando. The Vietnam war simply acts as a backdrop to the film and is there to make getting from point A to point B more interesting.
What happens is that Martin Sheen and his buddies on the boat seem to spend approximately twenty minutes of film time in various locations, forming little vignettes of troop life in Vietnam. After roughly three of these, I’m fed up of waiting, and I want to see Marlon Brando already. Of course Coppola tells you to hush, and on rolls another vignette. This naturally makes the story rather fragmented, but the segments between each scene allow for discussion about what’s just happened.
I’m going to give away the ending now, so turn away if you’d rather find out for yourself. By the time Sheen actually reaches Brando and his throng of followers, I’ve all but forgotten what the mission was in the first place. The colonel is indeed a bit of a nutjob, but while Sheen has ample chance to do it sooner, he waits a full half an hour to kill Brando, losing another of his friends in the outcome. Killing Brando is really very easy, and there’s no sign of a struggle. It’s quite anticlimactic really.
The moral of this story is that less is more. This movie is a bit too long for it’s own good and is utterly different from what I was expecting. If you want a proper war film, check out Full Metal Jacket instead.