Apocalypse Now directed by Francis Ford Coppola is the first film that strictly excoriate U. S. involvement in the Indochina war. Coppola described his motivation while making the film as: ” to create a film experience that would give its audience a sense of the horror, the madness, the sensuousness, and the moral dilemma of the Vietnam War.
“(p. 1) There was hardly a doubt that, Coppola delivered the above mention atmosphere by the uses of various filming techniques, combining with powerful war like scene.As a viewer, we might have received a sense that Coppola is virtually creating a World War III on screen. The theme of imperialism brought from U. S involvement stand out at the same time when Apocalypse Now takes realistic cinema to a new extreme. The ideas of American’s culture that dominate over other cultures were shown throughout the film. The first scene that shows the idea is when Willard and his crewmembers splashed their water, wave with their boat over some unfocused Vietnamese fishermen.The fact that they were not properly focus was to show American solipsism; focus only on their own culture.
Another scene which shows American superiority over the others, happen when the Vietnamese people were left outside of the fence watching, while the sex-staved troops entertained by the Playboy Bunnies. Nevertheless, the bottom line is that Vietnamese are being ignored culturally and personally. It is by no mean a co-incident as Coppola chose the make up of the troops on the boat as the representation of American people.We get a description of Willard’s crew from his own voice: “Chief” Hicks (Frederic Forrest), the boat’s machinist and hippie gourmet cook from New Orleans: “He was wrapped too tight for Vietnam, probably wrapped too tight for New Orleans. ” “Lance” Johnson (Sam Bottoms), a famous Southern California surfer champion who water-skies behind the boat and works on his tan: “To look at him, you wouldn’t believe he’d ever fired a weapon in his life. “Mr. Clean” (Larry Fishburne), a 17-year-old jive-talking Bronx ghetto youth who often listens to rock music on his tape player: “I think the light and the space of Vietnam really put the zap on his head. ” At last, the efficient black Chief Phillips (Albert Hall), the boats experience tough commander/NCO: “It might have been my mission, but it sure as shit was the Chief’s boat.
“(p. 3) They all represented different parts of American cultures. Mainly, they were being illustrated as a bunch of useless people who don’t know what they were doing. A nation of people who do not take pride in what they were doing.American is a well-known show biz culture. Coppola pointed that out when he involved himself in the scene, where he was the director of some newscast, wanted to shoot a few footage of the war. He made it obvious to the viewers when he tells Willard not to look at the camera.
The idea behind this scene obviously illustrated that the U. S. government is still putting on a big show even at wartime.
The automatic impression that I personally had was wondering if they do care about the war. Are they showing off their strength to the other country by shooting these footages? Are they actually helping or rather using the people?I think we all get the message when we heard Coppola shouted: “Don’t look at the camera! This is for television. Just go through, go through. “(p. 4) From my opinion, this line from Coppola is implying that the objective of this war was not for the local people but others out from here. It is a show put on to intimated their potential enemy. It is a common line but yet its meaning is significant. We may not all agree on the purpose for U.
S. involvement on other Country civil war. But in spite of that, Coppola did not hide the worst possible side of American culture (beside violence).American sexuality is all ties up with aggression. The scene where those sex-staving American soldiers blindly chased after the playboy bunnies showed American male’s macho behavior. The system is totally corrupted much like the American culture. It is ironic, because America is such a powerful country and yet it is also corrupted at the same time. Coppola used different irony to illustrate the absurdity of American’s culture.
One of the most evidence sequences was when Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall) allowed his obsession for surfing to go wild when he met Lance.He virtually wiped out the whole coastline around the beach in order to watch Lance surf. It is even more ironic to see him congratulating Lance by word such as these: “It’s an honor to meet you Lance. None of us are anywhere near your class, though..
. We do a lot of surfing around here, Lance. “(p. 4) It was such an unusual line from a Lieutenant to a lower rank solider.
At background of this conversation, ironically we saw dead body carried away by the soldiers.Kilgore is just not playing his role right especially when he made nonsense comment such as these: “Some day this war’s gonna end..
.. “(p. ) I personally think that his comment is meaningless since it is commonly know that there is an end to everything. Moreover it is inappropriate for him to make that comment regarding his class. However, we can justify Coppola’s intention, as a way to illustrate the viewers that Kilogore is just another American, which does not act out their role in the society. We had gathered enough evidences from the film to conclude ourselves that, the American’s culture was just as wild and violence as a war.
Coppola’s ability to show this moral dilemma in his film without the help of any special effect is just simply taking film into another level.