The story is basically a no-brainer; it's neither challenging, nor involved, yet keeps a willing viewer enrapt for the duration of its 153-minute running time. A seedy Saigon motel room closes in on a drunken Captain Willard who wastes his time on R & R waiting for orders. Through the fire, destruction and smoke, Captain Benjamin Willard's face, superimposed upside down, slowly dissolves into our vision as the viewer is squired into the beautifully crafted prologue of Apocalypse Now.
The camera continues to pan slowly over a half-filled shot glass, a cigarette lighter, Willard's hand holding a lit cigarette, and a .45 automatic pistol slightly tucked under his pillow. I thank Coppolla for not saturating the film's soundtrack with period music in the same trashy manner that many other "period" movies have. As life evaporates into burning ashes, and choppers cruise by like New York City taxis, whirring helicopter blades disappear into a spinning ceiling fan panning down to one of the most depressing motel rooms in cinema history.
Coppolla employed a true artist's eye in the filming of the helicopters attacking the beach head. First stop: a psychedelic Playboy Playmate USO show featuring a very harried-and worried looking Bill Graham as the promoter wh This scene could only take place at night, and further emphasizes Capt. Intense battle as seen through the eyes of Lance Johnson after taking LSD is amazingly displayed with both sound and visual effects. For me, Apocalypse Now plays in two parts, and this is what I consider the second part of the film.
It's at this point of the movie where the dreamlike quality overtakes the picture, and we too are caught up in the madness and demented sickness that permeates this secret jungle fortress.
The final soundtrack during the air strike sequence and ending credits is rumored to have been performed with guitar overlays Jimi Hendrix style by world famous Hendrix imitator Randy Hansen. The original 1979 70mm exclusive theatrical release ended with Willard's boat, the stone statue, then fade to black with no credits, save for '"Copyright 1979 Omni Zoetrope"' right after the film ends. Harrison Ford, Scott Glenn, Francis Ford Coppola, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, G. One tends to stare at the sweeping splendor of Hell painted in jungle greens and blood reds. The camera slowly pans to a vertical position; the music still plays, the sounds of the cieling fan still press one's nerves, and the music begins to fade. We hear The Rolling Stones' "Satisfaction" blasting on a tinny little radio on the boat, and just that one piece of a song seems to be more than adequate. Even the wallpaper seems like living skin, cracking and bleeding from years of neglect, and quite probably, decades of hosting the worst side of humanity. Willard's mission really is when he objects to them taking the time to stop and search a Vietnamese villager boat for weapons. Aside from the introductory helicopter assault, none of the battle scenes seem real, but rather surreal and nightmarish. At first Willard is interrogated, then kept in a bamboo cage so confining that he cannot move. This mirrors the lack of any opening titles and supposedly stems from Coppola's original intention to "tour" the film as one would a play: the credits would have appeared on printed programs provided before the screening began. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one; brought it up to me like room service.
The film opens with a nightmarish, artistically crafted splash of napalm fire destroying lush jungle accompanied by The Doors haunting twelve-minute anthem "The End" serves as a funeral dirge doubling as a musical soundtrack. If I were to choose the most impacting part of the movie, it would be the first six and a half minutes.

There's no need to remind the viewer that they're watching a movie set in a certain time period. But whoever this seemingly civilian guy is, he has access to the highest information and intelligence that this portion of the movie wants us to know. Laughter is the release from the sense of dread and agony that we are convinced is in our immediate future.
Of note: the beachhead helicopter attack was one of several movie scenes selected for home entertainment demos.
Everything, and everybody along the way only serve as inconveniences to him, something he must tolerate in order to move forward.
Though we never really see it well enough to decipher what's going on, we hear it as a giant tiger leaps out of the foliage. He's given a ladle full of water by Hopper's character, just enough to sustain him long enough to receive his daily lessons.
In any case, when Coppola heard that audiences interpreted this as an air strike called by Willard, Coppola pulled the film from its 35 mm run, and put credits on a black screen. Benjamin Willard sits wasting away hung-over, impatient and stirring while waiting to get back to the jungle.
From this point forward we learn of the art of deception, professional paranoia, and delusions of grandeur that embody all of the military leaders of this film. Both scenes are regarded as all-time favorites , and are by far some of the most dynamic war scenes ever put on film.
We eventually witness the difficulty of taking of a heavily guarded enemy beach simply because "it has the best waves for surfing." Perhaps this portion of insanity offers us a bit of normalcy in an otherwise surreal and nightmarish film. One can almost sense that The Playmates are seen by him as the "enemy" simply for the fact that they are there, and in his path.
There was a quick lesson to be learned even before Sheen's narration explained it to us: something is always tracking you, even when you least expect it. Just as some of us may ask ourselves "now what?" the crew explains to Willard that they have to take her to shore and get her to an Arvin hospital. This sequence shows us a scene from a battle that seems to never end, a battle without an officer to lead, and a battle where rock music is played on tinny radio speakers while machine guns blast at an invisible enemy. After suffering a heart attack during filming, and struggling for a quarter of a mile to get help, Sheen gave everything he had for this role.
Finally, as if given audience to The Pope, Willard is permitted into Kurtz' caved chambers to discuss, life, virtue, lies, sanity, and death.
This bit of opening alone is a visual diatribe on the body of humanity that stands in the way of war.
Heavily laden hit songs of the times in the background are extemely tedious and distracting in film. Being able to take this entire chapter of the film lightly is a permission granted to us by the amazing talents of Robert Duvall who has long proven his merit in the film industry. Sadder yet is the fact that war becomes that much needed normalcy in the two hours and thirty-five minute span of Coppolla's hallucinogenic creation. The suspense of this scene is played up to the hilt as the two men silently track what's ahead of them in the bushes. Sheen could take a script and mold it to his own face, a feat that I'd seen few performers accomplish. As we watch, the madness only mounts as Willard listens patiently to a man he is about to exterminate.

He had added them to the credits because he had captured the footage during the demolition of the sets (required by the Philippine government), which was filmed with multiple cameras fitted with different film stocks and lenses to capture the explosions at different speeds. So many words have been said about Apocalypse Now, and the filmmaker-artist Francis Ford Coppolla. However, Kurtz's edge, is much, much sharper, and the army agrees that it would be to everyone's best interest if he just quietly disappeared.
It's a wonder that I made it all the way through Scorsese's run of Top 40 hits in "Casino". The jungle is extremely thick and overgrown, beautifully photographed, and seemingly alive.
Willard: Steve McQueen, Al Pacino, and even Harvey Keitel who was hired for the role, but didn't quite work out.
As an artist, I recall being completely spellbound by this movie; I tried to understand the artistry that it took to create it. Clean" is shot during a riverside skirmish from the invisible enemy, then The Chief takes a spear in the chest from jungle fighters using raw weapons. Willard, a person so removed from any recognizable living existence, would surely be an actor's challenge. The boat cruises in, almost at a drift, so cautiously that we, the viewers, realize that the existence of Hell is not mythical, but reality.
The majesty of the whole thing from start to finish (one must finish it or just quit watching altogether) was overpowering.
The film employed a synthesizer using heavy sweep pads to perform much of the music in the background, and to provide drama against the narration.
At dawn, as the choppers begin spinning their blades, and soldiers are cocking their weapons, a lone bugler blows the cavalry charge into a P.A.
The only two crew members left alive are Lance and Chef who eventually accompany Willard to Col. He is flat; he is emotionless, and only presents himself as a living entity when someone, or something gets in his way, or grates on his nerves. Willard is greeted by an obviously insane war correspondent photographer (Dennis Hopper) who, like Col. Willard exits the cave-with bloody machete in hand-the natives part making a path for him to return to his boat. I can't imaging coming into the last twenty minutes of La Boheme, or wandering into in the Louvre and yawning while looking at its treasures. Martin Sheen had already made quite a name for himself in the 70's, doing very extraordinary work in film and made for TV movies.
Willard encounters nothing but madness and savagery; severed heads lie at the mounting stones of Kurtz's temple, and numerous bodies are hanging by their necks from the trees. From there, the ending appears murky; many, including myself, believed that he called in an air strike that destroyed the entire compound and everybody in it.
With quivering voice and constant throat clearings-nervous tics from someone unaccustomed to espionage-he lays out the plan. As the viewer, we have journeyed into madness only to reach its event horizon in the jungle compound of Col.

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