“My film isn’t about Vietnam… it is Vietnam. And the way we made it was very much the way the Americans were in Vietnam. We were in the jungle, there were too many of us, we had access to too much money, too much equipment and little by little we went insane.” – Francis Ford Coppola
One of the most legendary films in cinema history is the 1979 existential war epic Apocalypse Now which was co-written and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It is widely known as the project that nearly cost Coppola his life due to the immense amount of stress he experienced while making it over a 3-4 year period in the Phillipines. The movie’s fabled mega-disastrous production has since become a Hollywood legend. Luckily the entire excruciating process was captured on film in the documentary by Coppola’s wife entitled: Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse (highly recommended).
Based on Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness, Coppola transplanted the thrilling tale to Vietnam where Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) a rogue assassin for the United States military is hired to kill an insane renegade officer: Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has established his own colony deep in the jungles of Cambodia. The film turns into a truly bizarre journey as Willard and his U-Boat traveling companions: Chief (Albert Hall), Lance (Sam Bottoms) Chef (Frederic Forrest) and Clean (Laurence Fishburne) encounter a myriad of deadly obstacles and strange characters as they make their way up the river to Kurtz’s compound.
This is a furious film that is essential viewing for those who want to experience one of the most brilliant visionary works of cinema ever made. The script was co-written by John Milius (Big Wednesday) who injected the story with many of his own obsessions such as the theme of men treated as gods, war, surfing as well as details based on true events he had heard recounted from Vietnam veterans.
The poster is a hellish themed work of art that features Col. Kurtz’s god-like face transfixed along with the blazing sun and the face of Captain Willard. The images of helicopters is taken from the magnificent “Ride of the Valkyries” attack sequence. At the base of the piece is an image from one of the film’s most surreal and thrilling settings: the embattled Do-Long Bridge.