Apocalypse Now ★★★★★

”I love the smell of Napalm in the morning.”

From those opening shots in Saigon to the otherworldly scenes of attack on the beach village accompanied by the Ride of Valkyries to the perplexing imagery of the mythical temple in Cambodia, there is something quite ominous about this colossal beast, something insane - or even better – evil in nature, something that can make the hair in the back of your neck stand straight. Apocalypse Now portrays the result of insanity, a world where nothing is what it seems to be, where everything is dysfunctional. A time and place where recklessness rules. Mental and physical suffering are routine, joy and logic are laughable concepts. If there is going to be a Hell then it might be something like this one.

Chaos dominates the world of Apocalypse Now, everyone – from the poor Vietnamese folk to the disorganized soldiers who doesn’t know why they are there and what they’re doing to the mystical Colonel Kurtz himself – is consumed by this chaos, and in times when discipline is replaced by silliness and lunacy it is horror that gradually rises. And as Kurtz puts it horror is your number one enemy, it can destroy you from within so it’s no surprise that no one in the movie acts normal. This chain of events from chaos to horror to madness to more chaos creates a vicious cycle that is at the core of the movie’s thematic world.

But while the story’s characters are torn by the foolishness of the events and represent a disordered situation the film itself – despite all of the infamous problems that occurred during the shooting and somehow enhanced that sinister feeling of the story – is exceptionally well-organized thanks to Francis Ford Coppola’s skillful directing and his ability in creating a desolate and terrorizing atmosphere which gets more and more distressing and confusing by every step of the way. DoP Vittorio Storaro’s strange use of orange color makes you feel uneasy, Martin Sheen’s bewildered face transforms that frightening sense of uncertainty right into the screen and in Marlon Brando and Robert Duvall the film finds two masters who set new standards in portraying terrifyingly insane characters (although each of them present a slightly different type of insanity).

Apocalypse Now is a rich movie experience, its 196 minute runtime (the Redux version) makes it a physically and psychologically demanding experience but in the end it’s a rewarding and sublime film that forever will shine among the most incredible artistic achievements of the past century

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