Jan. 7th, 2017

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Myra and I watched Apocalypse Now, because it's on the AFI top 100 movie list, and holy shit you guys, this movie is so weird. (I feel this way about lots of the movies on this list. Myra's comment was that they're not necessarily on the list for intrinsic quality, but because they caused a sea change in the movie industry - hence the fact that the first list included Birth of a Nation, because despite its gaping flaws, it did give people a whole new vision of what a movie could accomplish.)

Anyway! Apocalypse Now. Our protagonist, Martin Sheen (he has some other name in this movie; I have forgotten it), is sent into the jungle of Vietnam to kill Colonel Kurtz, allegedly because he's gone insane, but as Sheen moves through the jungle, he notes that you could say the same for pretty much every American soldier in Vietnam. They meet, for instance, an officer who is obsessed with surfing, and sends some of his men to go surfing on a beach that is still under enemy bombardment; and when we first meet Martin Sheen himself, he's dancing around his hotel room in his underwear, and punches a mirror.

Or is it really insanity when the whole situation is in itself bizarre and reason-defying? Maybe this is a perfectly reasonable adjustment to the chaos and the lies that permeate the war. A lot of the visuals in this movie are bizarrely nightmarish, like the American army bases that rise up out of the jungle strung with Christmas lights.

The film hammers this home so blatantly that it feels almost insulting at times. But on the other hand, even though that explicit theme is blatant, I also felt like there's a whole other level of stuff going on here that maybe I'm not getting at all.

Spoilers )

It might become clearer if I watched it again. But that would mean, well, watching it again - and I kind of want to, but I also really don't. The film works on a kind of nightmare logic anyway; I'm not sure it's going to become clear in an intellectual sense no matter how many times one watches it.


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