“We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane.” – Francis Ford Coppola on Apocalypse Now.
When I had watched The Deer Hunter I was convinced that it was the ultimate war movie ever made beating Saving Private Ryan. That movie was so real. Apocalypse Now, however, is surreal. You journey in the movie not just through a river, but a gamut of feelings, begininng from aversion to war which slowly but convincingly changes to hatred for war and the related insanity. It is the darkest movie I have ever watched. You know Colonel Kurtz is evil. You pity him. You love him. You want to forgive him. As it is said in the movie, he is a broken man. Yet he acts as if he is God. A genius. A flawed genius.
You smell that? Do you smell that? …Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for twelve hours. When it was all over I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like… victory. Someday this war’s gonna end…
But for me Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz is a tuor de force. He blows away all the previous performances, and from when he enters the movie, its only him, till the end. His monologues. The look in his eyes. “The horror.”
Col. Kurtz: Did they say why, Willard, why they want to terminate my command?
Cap. Willard: I was sent on a classified mission, sir.
Col. Kurtz: It’s no longer classified, is it? Did they tell you?
Cap. Willard: They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.
Col. Kurtz: Are my methods unsound?
Cap. Willard: I don’t see any method at all, sir.
Col. Kurtz: I expected someone like you. What did you expect? …Are you an assassin?
Cap. Willard: I’m a soldier.
Col. Kurtz: You’re neither. You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.
And the best lines of the movie according to me.
I’ve seen the horrors, horrors that you’ve seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me – you have a right to do that – but you have no right to judge me.
It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face, and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies.
We’d left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn’t say. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile, a pile of little arms, and I remember, I…I…I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out. I didn’t know what I wanted to do. And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it. I never want to forget. And then I realized like I was shot, like I was shot with a diamond, a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, ‘My God, the genius of that. The genius. The will to do that. Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure! And then I realized they were stronger than me because they could stand it. These were not monsters. These were men — trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts who have families, who have children, who are filled with love – that they had the strength, the strength to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, then our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill – without feeling, without passion, without judgment – without judgment. Because it’s judgment that defeats us.
For those of you who haven’t seen it, watch it. Rating 10/10.
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