Final Draft 6 - 1 The Soldier and his Psyche 21104987 In...

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The Soldier and his Psyche In Apocalypse Now , Francis Coppola ingeniously portrays the impact of the Vietnam War on the psyche of the American Soldier. Apocalypse Now is not a factual film – it does not depict any actual events that occurred during the long history of American involvement in the Vietnam War. It is, however, an authentic film – one that underscores the brutal, hollow, and surreal aspects of the war as experienced by the soldiers who participated. Coppola deliberately avoids identifying and blaming an explicit adversary; instead, he intimates that war itself is the enemy. On the face of it, Apocalypse Now is a film about Captain Willard – a soldier who was just re-deployed – and his mission to find and kill a rogue American Colonel who has established his own fiefdom in a jungle in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. On a deeper level, Willard’s journey into the darkness of the jungle is symbolic of an emerging consciousness about the capacities of man for evil and monstrous acts. It is a nighttime journey during which Captain Willard makes discoveries about himself, his relations to good and evil, and about the misery that the West and the Vietnamese inflict on each other. Willard is introduced upon returning from his first tour in Vietnam. The question of his sanity instantly comes into question in the opening hotel room scene. His excessive drinking and crude lifestyle establishes the theme of a man tormented by his experiences. He reveals, through his narrative, how darkness lurks beneath the surface of even the most “civilized” person. This scene intensely illuminates war’s capacity to significantly change a soldier’s psyche. 1
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Colonel Kurtz, the target of Captain Willard’s mission, represents the lust for wealth and power that ravaged Vietnam during the 1960’s. Kurtz attempts to conceal this rapacity under the guise of idealism and progress. His consciousness is hidden by a dark shadow that covers his face during many of his scenes. Coppola employs this shadow so the viewer will perceive how war has affected Kurtz’s mind. Wherever he goes, he is followed by this dark void – a void that was created because of his deeds and schemes during wartime. The true horror of the story lies neither in the mechanisms of exploitation and repression, nor in Kurtz’s degeneration and ultimate despair: it lies in Willard’s growing realization that he too is capable of undergoing the same moral erosion that destroyed Kurtz. Willard is painfully aware of the savagery pulsating behind the most civilized façade.
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Final Draft 6 - 1 The Soldier and his Psyche 21104987 In...

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