Apocalypse Now

Produced by Zoetrope Studios 1976-77 in the Philippines and distributed by United Artists 1979, budget of $31.5 million (up from starting $12 million), gross of $5 million (later rose to $100 million), color 35mm negative, 2.35:1 screen ratio, stereo 6-track sound, 153 mins., Laserdisc released 1991, DVD released 1999, expanded version of 202 mins. released as Apocalypse Now Redux 2001.


Coppola's film



This film is a black comedy about the Vietnam War. The film begins with stunning imagery of helicopters and palm trees and napalm, but the story becomes surreal and bizarre. It is based on the novel by Joseph Conrad, not on any real characters or events. According to Frances Fitzgerald, Coppola gets the geography of Vietnam wrong: "Kurtz is said to have gone into Cambodia with a Montagnard army, yet there are not Montagnards in Cambodia for the simple reason that there are no mountains to speak of there. Willard's journey, we are told, begins in Nha Trang, and Kilgore's batallion surfs a beach that is surely in Central Vietnam. But you can't get to Cambodia from Central Vietnam by river because there are mountains in between (rivers don't flow uphill). While you can get to Cambodia via the Mekong, that river passes through densely populated rice land, not jungle..." Other Vietnam war films make similar mistakes. The Green Berets ends with the sun going down in the Pacific as John Wayne walks on the Vietnamese beach with an orphan. Casualties of War shows huge railroad bridges and trains but Vietnam in reality had only one old railway that was not working during the war. Platoon and Full Metal Jacket focus on the actions of individual soldiers, but most of the destruction in the war was caused by artillery and bombing, not soldiers.



revised 3/17/03 by Schoenherr | Filmnotes