Sunday, November 04, 2007

Apocalypse Now d. Francis Ford Coppola, 1979

This is the third or fourth time I've seen this film - one of those times being the bloated Redux version - but it may as well have been the first. I've admired Apocalypse Now each previous viewing, but never liked - although I'm not sure that's the right word - it as a film. My earlier film-viewing self was a fiend for sense; that guy craved coherence, loved a tight allegory, got all promiscuous with logical conclusions. That guy also thought Mulholland Dr. was a piece of shit. Fair 'nuf to say that that guy had shit for brains.

I won't make that move here, however, that move that goes on to say how the ambiguities at the heart of AN are emblematic of the Vietnam War. Sure, maybe they align nice, but if this film were intrinsically bound to Vietnam, it would not be the film it is; that is, it wouldn't be so excellent. (Aside: there's a ridiculous/hilarious allegorical reading available in the film, though: Lance B. Johnson is LBJ (get it?), Kurtz is the military presence in Vietnam, and Willard is the liberal body politic trying to make sense of the shit, trying to pick up the pieces and get Joe Army out of there. Yeesh.)

In Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad writes, "The meaning of an episode was not inside like a kernel but outside, enveloping the tale which brought it out only as a glow brings out a haze, in the likeness of one of these misty halos that sometimes are made visible by the spectral illumination of moonshine." This is complicated; I don't understand it completely. I could get vague here and talk about the film as indicative of the human condition, the film as constituent and constitutive of its local locale, lorem ipsum, et cetera, etc., &c. I'm going to sidestep that part, thus leaving this three-paragraph write-up w/o any real meat to its bones, and just say that the quote from Heart of Darkness is a pretty great thing and does an excellent job of circumscribing the greatness of Apocalypse Now.


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