View the H-War Discussion Logs by month
View the Prior Message in H-War's January 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
View the Next Message in H-War's January 2010 logs by: [date] [author] [thread]
Visit the H-War home page.
Apocalypse Now is a film I have always appreciated and portions of it are quite enjoyable and stimulating. It is what I call a "flawed masterpiece." Knowing the context for the film, I believe, makes it even more so. Understanding that the making of the film was a personal journey to the heart of darkness for Coppola is important. The film almost literally killed him (he had a major heart attack and a Typhoon struck the Philippines during the filming almost completely derailing the project). However, I really did not understand this film until I did two things: - viewed "Aguirre, the Wrath of God" by Werner Herzog (released in 1972) - read Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" The second act needs no elaboration. The film is in many ways a faithful extrapolation of Conrad's novella using Vietnam as the vehicle for flora , fauna, and the dark message about colonial impotence. The first, though, is extremely important and critical. As an "important" director, Coppola was intimately familiar with Herzog's masterpiece of post-modernist/black film making that catalogs a disastrous trip up a Central American river by a band of rapacious Conquistadors in the 16th Century. It is the timeless theme of the West going down a dangerous rabbit hole into a reality that is completely beyond its comprehension and ability to control events with power and technology. It is the same theme, to some degree that we get in a more nuanced dose in "the Sand Pebbles." In a word, Coppola's film deals with a major theme by simply updating (plagiarizing) Herzog's film. One anecdote will suffice to show the "borrowing" that took place. In "Aguirre" the Conquistadors pass a canoe stranded atop some trees in the jungle alongside the seemingly endless river. It is a powerful image of man's limitations and the power of natural forces that man does not control or even understand. In "Apocalypse" we get the same scene, except this time it is a helicopter but the message is the same. Nature (or the unknown) is spitting at western man's hubris.There is something about trips up wild rivers into the unknown that appeals, fascinates, and horrifies modern man. _Deliverance_. Questionable history, but profound film-making. That message, about hubris, is needed now more than ever. vr, John "The film Critic" ps. thanks to Dr. Martin, my undergrad Film and Lit professor at Miami University. John T. Kuehn CDR USN (ret) Associate Professor of Military History CGSC Ft Leavenworth "Kuehn, John T Dr CIV USA TRADOC" <email@example.com> ----- For subscription help, go to: http://www.h-net.org/lists/help/ To change your subscription settings, go to http://h-net.msu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?SUBED1=h-war -----