She grew up in Vietnam and studied film in the U.S. and the U.K. Apocalypse Now (Francis Ford Coppola, 1979) A small moment in Apocalypse Now Redux captures the film’s ethos even better than any gruesome battle scene. Recognizing the forces and facts in play pushes the audience to look beyond Apocalypse Now’s canonical idolization and instead critically and empathetically re-evaluate the historically and politically befuddled landscape in which Coppola’s auteurist aesthetics operates. Here lies the truth of all the conflicts between the … In a portion of the film not included in the original release of Apocalypse Now but restored to the Redux version in 2001, the French plantation scene reveals the last vestiges of material attachment. Steven Brooks holds a Master’s Degree in music from the University of Southern California, and has years of experience teaching at the college level. If Willard truly does represent the hero consciousness traveling up the spine through the level of the heart, what do we make of the anti-hero Kurtz in this scenario? During the French plantation sequence, Hubert, the owner’s son, upon hearing his family discussing their plan to remain in Vietnam, angrily stands up and… cracks an egg. Hau Fat is also the location in which the Playboy Bunny show takes place, symbolizing a fixation on sexuality to the exclusion of compassion. Coppola’s most vivid Christian imagery was edited from in the original version of Apocalypse Now. The idea, he said, is that individuals can have their consciousness located in any of these chakras, depending upon where their energy is centered. It is here that we encounter a struggle for power in the world – the Americans build the bridge every night, and the Vietnamese “blow it right up again.” Leaving the bridge is to head for parts unknown…, And indeed, as the boat continues up the river into Cambodia, the crew begins to experience some very disconcerting events. Roxanne: There are two of you, don’t you see? In a voiceover, Willard states that Kurtz was resigned to death and perhaps even collaborated in his own assassination: So finally, when all is said and done, what does “Apocalypse Now” actually mean? Where is his elite army? All the mesmerizing spectacle glosses over the fact that the Vietnam War was also a civil conflict between North and South, and not merely a moral encounter between the East and the West or the primitive and the civilized, a schema that helps obfuscate the political and ideological systems behind the machinations of the Vietnam War. Indeed, as Willard terminates Colonel Kurtz, the image is crystallized when the Montagnard warriors slay a bull at precisely the same instant, and in so doing remove its head. The higher-ups want him gone because he’s gone AWOL, setting up his own jungle stronghold which he rules with the authority of a god. The second issue is the ending itself, specifically the portrayal of Kurtz. Hearing her comment in the context of the chakra system, we can imagine the one who kills being driven by the lower chakras, and the one that loves being motivated by compassion. This cut was re-edited by Coppola and Walter Murch and features a new Technicolor dye prints with additional footage originally left out of the theatrical release. The Vietnam War was singular at the time because of its extensive televisual documentation: it was the first war to be broadcast up close, in color, and while it was happening. His methods for fighting the Viet Cong have become “unsound” – for which, read: “batshit crazy.” But this isn’t the whole truth. Their attitude represents the will to power, the urge to dominate the material world in a controlling manner, and to hold on to the consciousness of the lower chakras. Death feels random, the enemy faceless, part of the land itself. The first meeting between Willard and Kurtz is effective – but it is sparse on dialogue. Your email address will not be published. So when you ask me why we want to stay here, Captain, we want to stay here because it’s ours, it belongs to us. The “Ride of the Valkyries” sequence is spine-tingling. We took the Vietnamese, work with them, make something, something out of nothing. A longer director's cut, titled "Apocalypse Now Redux", debuted on 11 May 2001 at the Cannes film festival. During the period in which the film takes place, the Montagnard, who had already been highly trained by the U.S. Army, were extremely skilled in combat; with that in mind, the arrow conceit plays as absurd and downright crude, much less the notion of their being scared away by sirens. Whatever version you choose to watch, APOCALYPSE NOW deserves its cult status. He is built up as a magnetic figure, a cult leader (references to Charles Manson in an early scene cannot be accidental), mythologised, revered and feared in equal measure. Continuing upward, we have the fourth at the level of the heart, the fifth in the area of the thyroid gland, and the sixth just above and between the eyes. Willard and the Buddha once again share the screen. On one of these occasions, Theseus volunteers to be placed in the labyrinth so he can kill the beast. Tom Bombadil would be proud. Western Religion and Mythology (1997). Willard has completed the Hero’s Journey through the heart of darkness, died and been resurrected, unified the chakras, and attained Buddhahood. Kurtz is determined to break the will of his prisoner, and at one point drops a severed human head into Willard’s lap, foreshadowing the climax of the film in which a bull is beheaded. The Chakra System No one knows who is in charge, and everything is on fire. Even Ken Burns’s 10-part 18-hour documentary series The Vietnam War, which proposes to examine the war from both sides, is equally guilty of this. Departure It’s a ridiculous line, a bizarre simplification of Vietnam’s enduring and complex colonial history, yet the film treats it with noble respect, the camera lovingly gazing on the glistening white slowly slipping out of its shell. Thus the horror at the heart of APOCALYPSE NOW is not the things Kurtz has done. Here, Coppola acquaints us with France’s colonial occupation of Vietnam before its defeat at Dien Bien Phu in 1954. New York, NY: MJF. Campbell, J. Nevertheless, despite the elaborate mise en scène, a sense of emptiness and rootlessness lingers in these frames. While you Americans, you are fighting for the biggest nothing in history.”. Willard must confront this aspect of himself, bring light to his “Heart of Darkness”, and terminate the schizophrenic division of killer/lover. Over. The original theatrical cut clocks in at around two and a half The opening of FINAL CUT is a sensory assault on both the eyes and the ears. Similarly, without resilience, Vietnam could not have endured centuries of Chinese, French, Japanese, and American occupation. Phuong Le is a freelance film critic. He who could help us attain the death of our “animal self” in order to be resurrected into a compassionate self would be a savior indeed… Willard demonstrates that this is the same process Buddha went through in attaining enlightenment, and finally, the same process we can all go through. Helicopters clatter nearby, occasionally swooping into shot. Either we remain stuck as a people in our animal state, and like Kurtz eventually succumb to the ultimate temptation to attain the highest power over others – “drop the bomb, exterminate them all!”, or we take Willard’s journey, killing the Minotaur within to discover the sacred within. People who engage in Kundalini yoga are, among other things, attempting to raise these vivifying energies up the spine to activate the higher chakras, and thus alter consciousness. After passing through this “initiation”, Willard travels far upriver, encountering many obstacles in his path before arriving at Kurtz’ compound, where he is taken prisoner and nearly reduced to death by his confinement. The horrors of slavery in America return in Antebellum, an audacious thriller that revives thorny questions of how to portray the past, Susan Sontag, Sweden, 1969; Kino Lorber, DVD & Blu-Ray, More than words: the subtitler of Godard, Assayas, and others talks about the process in this accompaniment to our May-June 2020 Art and Craft article. Consequently, Ariadne is the Occidental corollary to the heart chakra; her love transforms Theseus, empowering him to overcome his fear. Captain Willard, a special operations veteran of multiple tours, is sent upriver into the jungle on a naval launch. We know furthermore that Kurtz himself is a brutal killer.
The film has had several different cuts released since its initial theatrical cut, but Ridley Scott insists that the definitive version of the classic film is the final cut. As Willard says: “Everyone wanted me to do it, him most of all”. The Minotaur is confined in a labyrinth. Apocalypse Now’s strategy of centering its narrative on a white protagonist and a good-versus-evil dichotomy has influenced many of its fictional successors such as Casualties of War and Platoon. On the other hand, sometimes I found mythology when I wasn’t even looking for it. It keeps our family together. When Willard is taken captive in the final act of the film, he is confined to a bamboo structure that is visible to anyone in the compound. But the idea that watching some of my favorite movies could be more than just a temporary distraction was compelling to me, and over time, I became more and more on the lookout for symbolic references in film. After this, we see far too much of him, and all that we do see undermines the entire journey we have taken up until this point. More importantly, in contrast to their portrayal as an unworldly clan under the spell of white American generals, the Montagnard were in fact a strategic ally to the U.S. Army. There was no way to tell his story without telling my own. Kurtz’ mind, consumed by energies yet to be transformed by the heart chakra, has taken the will to power to its logical extreme; he is bent on dominating a world where ends justify the means because he has convinced himself that the only way he can feel inwardly safe is to annihilate anyone who disagrees with him in the outer world. Perhaps the most striking images used by Coppola to convey the idea of Willard’s evolution are the Buddha sculptures that bookend his film. In another of my favorites, Bill Murray explores the comedic ramifications of Karma and reincarnation. The problem Remembering that we turn the once external energies inward when we enter the heart chakra, we can read the religious symbols in a similar, inwardly turned way. It opens on a long shot of trees swishing in the wind. The most famous photos of the Vietnam War are not of heroic combat or victories but of the atrocities that were committed and the suffering that occurred on both sides of the battle. Willard’s journey begins when he meets Colonel Kilgore, the commander of a helicopter cavalry unit who also happens to be obsessed with surfing. It comes to this: we are told a He is both a king and a god of his own making – and he represents the terrible dark thesis of the film: that to win wars one must be ready to commit greater evil than one’s enemies. Books. These sculptures – often seen in Buddhist culture as the sideways glancing faces on the “Three Headed Buddha” – represent a passage through what had been perceived as pairs of opposites, moving towards the realization that they are actually two parts of a single continuum.
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