Apocalypse Now is a powerful and fascinating masterpiece, which intrigues with the director’s work, performance of actors and the story line. Starting as a low budget film, it turned into Coppola’s most massive investment of money, thoughts, and ideas. Apocalypse Now engages the viewer into the world of pointless and unnecessary warfare, where Americans soldiers are fighting for liberty and dream, rather than Vietnam. American soldiers have stepped into the jungle of cultural misinterpretation, lack of understanding and absence of civilization to fight for their core principles on alien lands. Although the story is told from the “hairiest” spots in Vietnam, it does not portray the Vietnam War fully, though it reveals a few horrifying truths in some instances (Shams-Eddien).
From the beginning to the end, the film Apocalypse Now is constructed in the effect of vertigo emphasizing the nebulosity of the situation, as an obscure, ambiguous, old, and very unclear memory, which one wants to forget, but cannot due to the emotional impact. Note the same effect of blurriness in the scene of the Do Long Bridge Battle. The scene of the battle at the Do Long Bridge is crucial for the film, as it signifies the point of no return. After this bridge, one can no longer cancel the operation and go back, as it is the last check point. This Bridge also signifies the duality, which is formed in the country by the war. This duality consists of two different conflicting regimes: democracy and communism; and the Bridge is like the passage between the secure and the dangerous territories, the light and the dark, control and complete obscurity, civilization and savagery, and finally the war and Colonel Kurtz territory (Dirks).
Captain Marlow is portrayed as an observant and critical man, which helps him and crew weigh and analyze the situation in order to see through his mission and complete the task he has been given. First, not to be noticed, they arrive when it is very dark, and the visibility is low. Darkness represents the fear of the unknown, obscurity and unclear actions one has to take. Second, when they arrive at the dock, the messenger transfers the information. While leaving, he underlines that they are about to live through the worst nightmare in their lives. Another point, which emphasizes this meaningful and symbolic passage, is the complete silence and very little unclear talks, which depict the cautions taken by the crew, as well as carefulness in the unknown. Also, Marlow did not find the CEO at this place, because the chaos has already invaded this place, and further would be even worse. At last, the scene is the culmination of the film, which is also channeled through the dialogue of the captain Marlow and the boatman. Captain’s Marlow order to move is followed by the boatman’s question “which way?” depicting that at the point of no return, it is their last chance to forget about the mission and go back.
To conclude, even though there are still many other films about the Vietnam War, Apocalypse Now is an epic expressionistic war film, which envisions the venture of finding the self in the jungle of lost hopes and dreams in the context of a horror of the needless warfare. Apocalypse Now is a film that one has to feel through to digest the plot, and as a result, either hail for the masterpiece, or despise it for ambiguity and pretentiousness. In any of the two cases, Apocalypse Now leaves a deep imprint on the consciousness of the viewer, making the person think through and understand the feelings towards both the visual representation and the atrocity of the bloodshed about wrong people leading the wrong war.