Apocalypse Now is one of the war movies that transcends the genre. If many films are able to show battle on a sensory level, this one expresses a mind frame. There have been films about soldiers who have been permanently damaged by war. Apocalypse Now considers that some are lost in it.
Captain Willard is a U.S. Army special operations officer in the Vietnam War. At his hotel room in Cambodia, he is depressed and conflicted about where he wants to be, at home or in war. “When I was home, all I can think about is getting back to the jungle” he says. But then he is called for a new mission: to lead a small team and hunt down a rogue Colonel named Walter E. Kurtz in the Jungles. The military file shows a decorated officer who at some point begins to make questionable choices. Apocalypse Now follows a group of men on a lonely travel through a river. It shows the madness of warfare while in between are long stretches of meditation and scenery, care of the cinematography by Vittorio Storaro. Martin Sheen as Captain Willard gives a memorable performance particularly at the beginning scene where he cries by his bedside. And Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz is mostly in the shadows, looking enigmatic, with a voice that sounds wise and who only appears near the end. Then there is Robert Duval as a General who is desensitized by the horrors of battle. Surfing has become his recreational activity. While Dennis Hopper is a photographer who believes in Kurtz as a cult leader. Director Francis Ford Coppola directs with a patience and observatory approach while concluding with a ceremonial montage. The film is an extensive journey through a river that never seems to end. Each portion like a chapter that gets lost further into a nightmare experience.