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I've finally watched "Apocalypse Now," as I rashly promised I would about a month and a half ago. If there is anyone there who has seen it (Ophelia I know has) and would like to discuss, I'm ready. My wife says she believes Martin Sheen had a heart attack during the filming. I don't know if that's true, but the film is so intense that it's not hard to believe.
DWill


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Fri May 16, 2008 10:44 pm
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I've finally watched "Apocalypse Now," as I rashly promised I would about a month and a half ago. If there is anyone there who has seen it (Ophelia I know has) and would like to discuss, I'm ready.


:clap: Well done Will!
I was surprised that nobody seemed to want to have a go at it after reading the novella, but now is a good time too...

Just start posting and I'll get back to you, and perhaps our postings will attract the attention of a few more people.


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Sat May 17, 2008 1:14 am
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DWill wrote:
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My wife says she believes Martin Sheen had a heart attack during the filming. I don't know if that's true, but the film is so intense that it's not hard to believe.


This is copied from Wikipedia:
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The lead role of Captain Willard was to be played by Harvey Keitel but it was recast two weeks after shooting began. Keitel's footage was re-shot with Martin Sheen, who suffered a near-fatal heart attack during production and was suffering from alcoholism during the shoot. In 50 Films to See Before You Die, aired on the United Kingdom's Channel 4 on the 22 July 2006, Sheen reveals that the opening scene was completely improvised, that he had been drinking all day, his 36th birthday, before it was shot, and that he broke the mirror by accident. When he started bleeding, Coppola wanted to stop filming, but Sheen insisted that he continue. Watching the scene back, Sheen said it was good to see where he'd come from knowing that he was never going to go back there again. It took Sheen weeks to recover and return to the set, during which time the film was in danger of being shut down. Being similar in appearance and voice, Joe Estevez, Sheen's brother, stood in for Sheen in some of the long shots and would later record some of the film's narration


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Sat May 17, 2008 3:17 am
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Holy cow, that was good digging, Saffron. At least one of the actors--Sheen-- didn't have to get into character to play the deranged special ops guy, he was there already. I noted that F.F. Coppola had a cameo in which he was filming soldiers as they landed on a beach, yelling at them not to look at the camera.
The film did what you'd expect of a good adaptation, paralleling the original story (HD) in certain ways while ringing interesting changes on it. Change just a few elements and you have a new twist on Conrad's tale. The most important of these was to make the Marlow figure more of an avenger than a rescuer of Kurtz, and an anti-hero as well. He kills a wounded Cambodian woman and brutally murders Kurtz. But he is still the closest thing to a moral voice in the comletely amoral world of the film.
What most interested me was the function and interpretation of the words "the horror, the horror." We know these were spoken in HD by Kurtz as he died. I have viewed these words as Kurtz's realization of the depths he had sunk to, and as the factor that redeemed him in Marlow's eyes. In "Apocalypse," Col. Kurtz's first utterrance of "horror" occurs as he is explaining to Willard/Sheen how one must conduct war if one is to succeed. He said a commander must have moral men under him that are willing to do anything, no matter how abominable, to achieve the objective. That is what Col. Kurtz clearly had learned to do. One must use horror against an enemy, that was the secret. When Kurtz is dying and says the word twice again, it's as if he's repeating this lesson learned, not indicting himself for what he did.
The Army wants Col. Kurtz out of the way, it seems, not because of his "unsound methods", but because he has set up an independent operation that has been too successful. Conrad's Kurtz needed to go for a similar reason.
A question we discussed in relation to HD was whether what happened to Kurtz can be called cracking or going insane. The general says this is what happened to Col. Kurtz under the influence of the jungle. In both treatments, I see something else happening. Cracking doesn't explain the deliberate use of genius for quite horrific ends. The two Kurtzes didn't crack but in a sense blossomed in an evironment in which there were no restraints on them.
I'm glad I did finally watch this film again. When I saw it in 1978, it may have made little impression on me, as hard as that is to believe now.
DWill


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No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence--that which makes its truth, its meaning--its subtle penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live as we dream--alone.

Joseph Conrad, The Heart of Darkness


Sat May 17, 2008 4:32 pm
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