War Film Analysis: Apocalypse Now Directed By Ford Coppola

913 words - 4 pages

“Apocalypse Now” is a legendary war film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film’s main theme is devastation, violence, and horror. In this film Coppola thoroughly scrutinized the main characters ideas, behavior, and emotions to depict the darkness and the horror of war. His goal was to make the audience part of the horror. He wanted the audience to have a tremendous impact on this film and he succeeded with the perfect use of sound and editing in the ending sequence of his film. I will demonstrate how Coppola exploits a wide array of sound and editing to create suspense, intensity, and anxiety in the sequence to affect the audience’s emotions, using diegetic ambient sound effects, ...view middle of the document...

The audience is anticipating violence, but they do not know how disturbing and shocking the violence will be. Therefore, they are still left to the unknown up until the climax, which is the killing of Colonel Kurtz. The non-diegetic music helps to shape the audience’s emotional response. The chords of this music and drum beat underline fear and apprehension. What is going to happen next? The audience awaits with dread the next shots and feels anxiety. The psychedelic guitar riff and the rhythmic drumbeat create hypnotic sound. Music represents madness in this sequence and the faster it goes, the more intense the suspense is.
Additionally, editing is also a powerful part of filmmaking. ”Film shapes our expectations by summarizing up curiosity, suspense, surprise, and other emotional qualities.”(Film Art 72). In the climax Coppola uses various editing techniques in order to intensify the suspense. There is the graphic match of the swinging machete, the cross-cutting of killings, the match on action and also the overlapping. We, the audience see the killing of Kurtz and the ritual killing of the buffalo back and forth, except the camera does not show the details of Kurtz’s murder; instead we see in vivid detail the ghastly killing of the animal. The first hacking of the buffalo is shown repeatedly three times. The editing techniques symbolize the buffalo as Kurtz; it implies that Kurtz is being killed like an animal. Kurtz and the buffalo are killed violently, both attacked from behind, and both are unsuspecting victims. By the end of the sequence, the fast tempo slows down completely, with a dead silence at the end,...

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