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Apocalypse Now, Apocalypse Forever Essay

2604 words - 10 pages

Apocalypse Now, Apocalypse Forever

Francis Ford Coppola's magnum opus Apocalypse Now was ladened with problems and difficulties before and after filming. These problems ranged from those having to do with the cast and crew, to those having to do with the circumstances surrounding the filming, to those having to do with the script, to those dealing in direct regard to the very sanity of all of those involved with Apocalypse Now. Despite the myriad of problems that contributed to this acclaimed film's failure, Apocalypse Now still became a success in its own right, and a true classic by any director's standards.

Joseph Conrad's 1902 novel Heart Of Darkness is the striking story of Captain Marlow, an English ship captain who is sent into Africa to track down and collect the debts of an ivory trader identified as Mister Kurtz, a man who may or may not have gone insane along his eventful journey (Conrad). In this novel Marlow is faced with treachery from the Company, hostile as well as friendly natives, and the impending meeting with Kurtz himself. Marlow becomes obsessed with meeting Kurtz and communicating with him after reading the personal history of the man, and hearing all the remarkable stories about Kurtz told by Englishmen and Africans alike (Conrad). This fascinating story is the one that inspired original screenwriter John Milius to write the first drafts of Apocalypse Now in 1969 (Behr). Orson Welles originally planned to write, direct, and star in his own version of Heart Of Darkness back in 1939 (Behr). The problem arose when the Mercury movie company pulled out of the project citing Welles' inability to keep the film to be within their strict budget (Virtanen). Welles decided to give up on the project and decided to make Citizen Kane instead, being serious about his interpretation needing to be shot on location (Behr). This and other factors led to the belief that Heart of Darkness could not be successfully written, much less produced (Behr). A college film student at the time, Milius took these notions as a challenge to write his own interpretation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness combined with what he knew of then current events (Behr). Milius elected not to attempt to redo or top Conrad's original novel, and decided to modernize it with his own flavor set into the script. This modernization included the resetting of the story into the midst of the Vietnam War with Marlow replaced by a Special Forces Captain named Willard. This tale became one of excess, greed, insanity, and psychadelia, which commented more on the state of the Vietnam experience than on what Conrad, who wrote his work fifty years prior to the beginning of the Vietnam strife, had originally intended. Milius called the script a cross between Heart of Darkness and The Odyssey, with Kilgore (portrayed by Robert Duvall) as the mighty Cyclops, who must be tricked, and overcome in order for Willard to continue his journey, and the Playboy Bunnies as the Sirens, who...

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