Thursday, January 17, 2013

My Napalm Morning

From absolute chaos, Coppola created
the epic tale of one man's journey to confront
his soul. A soul blackened by the horrors
of war.
This film nearly cost Coppola everything: his home, bank roll, family and sanity. This was the subject of Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse. This documentary about the making-of  is essential for Apocalypse enthusiasts.

So much shit went wrong during the filming that it was almost as if the gods were trying their very best to stop Apocalypse Now from being made.

Then there was Brando-way overweight and being the trickster. He and Coppola had these long conversations about his character Kurtz until Coppola realized Brando was just stalling to get out of working. Meanwhile money is flying away.

But when Brando was on, he was really on. Improvising dialogue from a broken soul-lost in despair and no way to return to the world once known.

Outtakes (from the aforementioned doc) from Brando's improv's include a digression with a far-off monkey chatter ("He's my critic. My only critic.") and the famous, "I swallowed a bug."

When not hospitalized, Martin Sheen is marvelous as Cpt. Willard- a man who has stared into the darkness and has just a sliver of humanity left in him before he is fully enveloped. Willard is a fractured man with an angry darkness, but the emptiness has no tyet. fully overtaken him.

When he meets Kurtz, he is confronting a mirror of his soul. He then is imprisoned, deprived of food and water, and undergoes the psychological terror Kurtz unleashes. Willard dies, metaphorically, only to be nursed back to life by Kurtz for three reasons: in the hope that Kurtz might make him understand "what I've tried to be," to go back to the States and tell Kurtz's son all about his father and what he accomplished. The third, and maybe the most important, Willard is to kill Kurtz (the king slayer becomes the new king idea) and thus end his nightmarish existence.
This film is very powerful on a number of levels. You should not watch it too much. You think I jest? I gave my friend a copy of the VHS I owned. He gave it back to me after a week and told me that he felt like the movie was getting under his skin. He started to watch it obsessively.

Coppola captured something real in those frames. Call it depression, insanity or the dark soul-it's there.

I highly recommend The Complete Dossier which has the original, Redux and a shitload of extras.

Apocalypse Now – The Complete Dossier DVD (Paramount Home Entertainment) (2006) Disc 2 extras include:

The Post Production of Apocalypse Now: Documentary (four featurettes covering the editing, music and sound of the film through Coppola and his team)
"A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now" (18 minutes)
"The Music of Apocalypse Now" (15 minutes)
"Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now" (15 minutes)
"The Final Mix" (3 minutes)

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