22. “Apocalypse Now”, Francis Ford Coppola (1979)

Part of The 100 Greatest Movies I’ve Ever Seen list.


Apocalypse Now

dir. Francis Ford Coppola scr. John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola based on the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad cin. Vittorio Storaro with Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Larry Fishburne, Dennis Hopper

In 100 words: War has never looked as ravaging or as epically filmed as this, Coppola’s greatest accomplishment. Apocalypse is a terrifying beast, locating the scary instinctive cruelty within human psyche while portraying the dehumanization of men fighting in a war that’s wrecking with their physical and mental states. Coppola and Storaro’s images and his sounds are breathtaking but also quite frighteningly realistic, managing to put its audience in the headspace of these soldiers dwarfed by the jungle’s vastness and nature’s unforgiving elements. Stirring, thought-provoking, and definitely awe-inspiring, this is the greatest of all war films, and a grand statement on its miseries.

Other Movies for Context: The Vietnam War is a subject of a great many films. Some of them are tremendous like The Deer Hunter (1978), which preceded this by a year or Full-Metal Jacket (1987) by Kubrick. Others got preachy, like Platoon (1986) or God-forbid, icky Forrest Gump (1994). Nevertheless, Apocalypse Now stands as the most astonishing of its genre, one that has never been reached again.

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