Saturday, November 22, 2008
I have seen this before, but not in a long damn time. As a statement on Vietnam, I'm not sure that this film is an entire success. My dad always said it was about how, the deeper we got in to the war, the less sense it made. I like that, but the problem with that theory is that Apocalypse Now starts with madness, and only gets crazier as it goes along. It already has a screw loose to begin with.
The characters can't really be accepted on a literal level, so there's no real emotional entry point in that sense. The story is so strange and even surreal at times that it can't really be accepted as an accurate portrayal of the war. By the end, when the movie becomes overtaken by Marlon Brando's insane Colonel Kurtz, the story seems so far removed from what came before that you practically forget that it's a war movie.
Okay, so maybe it doesn't work as a political statement, or on an emotional level, or as a plot. But who gives a shit. This movie is an intense, powerful vision... a vision of madness probably, not signifying much to me in a literal sense, but a remarkable use of the medium to try and grasp something bigger, greater. A film that tries to be more than a film.
If nothing else, this has to be one of the best looking films ever. Like Leone's Once Upon in America, every shot feels so unfathomably complex and beautiful that you struggle to take it all in. There's not a shot that feels like a throwaway, that seems to lack in interest or visual beauty.
It dawned on me watching it that it's a bit like Aguirre: the Wrath of God. Both films tell of a journey up a river and into the wild, where all sanity seems to break down and the movie descends into madness on such a great scale that you begin to suspect that the filmmakers went as mad as the characters do. Both films tap into this larger vision that few dare to go. It's a stare into the void/void stares back type situation.
I would still call The Conversation my favorite Coppola film, but this is a great film too, and you can't help but be bowled over by it's audacity and ambition. Coppola tried to set out to create something that was more than just a movie. You can't succeed at that, but he gets as close as anyone has.