The scene opens with an aerial view of a forest of Palm trees. He has learned that the General was lying to him--that the real reason they wanted Kurtz dead was not because he had gone beyond all humane limits in his killing people. This quotation shows how for Mary Ann the Vietnam War intrigued her and captured her mind as this idea is directly associated with the film clip. This interesting style of overlapping images in the frame helps us understand what is going through the head of this character, it foreshadows what's to come in the film and helps set the mood for the scene. Soon followed by the chopper we've heard sweeping across the screen close to the stationary camera. The premise of the film is based on the Vietnam War 1955-1975.
It's not an assassination, but a form of euthanasia--that is, assisted-suicide. Willard could not find a way of coping with the war so he kept on going back to fight because it was the only thing he knew anymore. With this eerie, moody song as his backdrop, Captain Willard tumbles into a downward spiral that continues throughout the film. I'm going to isolate and comment on the range of techniques Coppola uses to create this searing image of the Vietnam war experience. He uses the same technique of superimpositions to create Willard's consciousness that he used in the opening.
Coppola introduces the two shots of items on the bed table--each detail--the dog-tags, the letters, the photo, lighter, cigs, booze and gun--carefully selected to convey the specific situation. The opening scene — sound, image and editing are the pivotal elements and techniques that make this scene so incredible and captivating. Soldiers do horrible, sometimes revolting things during war. This passage directly reflects the effect that the Vietnam War had on some of the people that were involved with it. The movie, Apocalypse Now, describes the nature of the Vietnam War in a way that is very different from any other film on the subject of the war. And the face is under the image of the fiery jungle with the choppers circulating. The movie itself delves into the darker themes of the war such as the use of drugs by the soldiers and the rogue army generals that have defected and joined the Viet Cong.
Everybody wanted me to do it, him most of all. While this song is being played the sound of the helicopters flying back and forth is evident and disarming as it tends to get louder as the helicopters appear and softer as they leave the area of the scene, these continuous overlays of sound effects on top of the music draw us back to the reality of the war and disastrous things happening to the jungle. Kurtz's clothes and green facepaint. Francis Ford Coppola uses repetition of the opening song in the final sequence of the film, connected to the use of shadows in this scene as well as in the opening the song and lighting represent the theme of duality and evil within. I think that sound; image and editing work exceptionally well in this scene, but work even better when all these three elements become cohesive and tell the story together. What we thought we were hearing and seeing at the beginning--sounds and images of a place--Vietnam-- are actually only sounds and images going on in Willard's mind.
So he waits willingly for the scorching hellfire to engulf him whole. Specifically in the film Apocalypse Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola in 1979. What then follows is a napalm strike over the trees in our still viewing wide framed, long shot. The premise of the film is based on the Vietnam War 1955-1975. The example of Mary Anne and how Vietnam changed her is a powerful one.
Great use of lighting is again used to shadow half of Willard's face with the ceiling fan framed over his shoulder as the scenes cut and change. For me, I see a rather darker interpretation of this opening. It is evident that sound, imagery and editing were fundamental techniques that made this scene beautiful to watch. Eventually, these men let go and fall into the river. The copter passes again from left to right but only a bit of it shows at the right hand top corner of the frame. Its also interesting because the sound is non diegetic as It is just the imagination of the characters point of view. Pooh becomes Willard, Eeyore becomes Kurtz, Piglet becomes the Photojournalist and so on, the psychedelic music from when Willard has a drunken breakdown in his hotel room and punches the mirror is played over Pooh exercising in front of a mirror and splitting the stitching on his back etc.
Cut to his pov shot of the fan and the real sounds of the choppers outside his window. Apocalypse now: Willard's Vietnam Memories Willard's Mind: The Beginning and the End Willard's Mind: The Beginning Note: The opening sequence is based on a text, but not Heart of Darkness. Here's the text that inspired this scene: Saigon cafarde, a bitch nothing for it but some smoke and a little lie-down, waking in the late afternoon on damp pillows, feeling the emptiness of the bed behind you as you walked to the window looking down at Tu Do. Before I can analyze the return into Willard's mind, I need to give a brief summary of the meaning of Willard's actions leading up to his leaving on the boat. Kilgore strums a guitar around the campfire as his troops sing along during a gathering akin to an American beach party. I count at least nine different shots I probably missed a couple , which he superimposes in different combinations.
As the introduction to the song progresses, elements in the film change and smoke enters the scene amongst the palm trees. Coppola has integrated the four major symbols of Vietnam-- Choppers, Jungle, Napalm and Rock 'n Roll--in an unforgettable visual and aural experience that has become, for many, the quintessential expression of the Vietnam war. That image coupled with the continuing sound of the chopper equals Vietnam. It is actually an adaptation of a passage from Michael Herr's. The film is also unique in the sense that it follows the story of Captain Willard and his special mission of eliminating rogue general Kurtz. Next is a pan to the right which shows the extent of the napalm and the destruction to the forest.
This sensory overload of sights and sounds is the perfect expression of the chaos in Willard's mind. The view then tilts down showing the viewer and the character the setting, of a small motel room. The now grimy and foggy shot lingers as the diegetic helicopter blades and non diegetic score merge to form something of its own atmosphere. There were mornings when I'd do it before my feet even hit the floor. The stark contrast with the green natural palm trees we were just witnessing portrays a clear dehumanizing effect. And then there's another shot superimposed--a low-angle shot of a ceiling fan. The government encourages him and that soldier truly believes he is a good human being whilst doing these horrible things.