Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Apocalypse Now - Vietnam in Film

Apocalypse Now was released in December 1979, so close enough to fit into the 1980's culture, and is perhaps one of the most famous depictions of the Vietnam War on film. Apocalypse now is significant when discussing how Vietnam is depicted in film as it perhaps one of the few and first anti-Vietnam films to be produced. One of the most famous scenes from the film which when analysed really does convey the brutality of the Vietnam war is the Ride of the Valkyries scene in which dozens of US helicopters unleash a barrage of firepower on a Vietnamese village populated visibly by innocent women and children to the sound of Flight of the Valkyries, a triumphant piece of music. This is significant as it manages at the same time to depict the atrocities which happened in the war and convey the attitude that was initially held by the US both at home and overseas. To the US this scene is a triumphant display of American military fire power, to the Vietnamese this is nothing more than a massacre of civilians and this is the reason Apocalypse now so effectively encapsulates the juxtaposing views of the US and the Vietnamese.

Furthermore Apocalypse now would go on to spark a series of films which are now under the umbrella genre of Vietnam protest theatre. However what is also important to consider is the difficulty the director, Francis Ford Coppola had producing the film, although relatively expensive to make the film received large amounts of opposition particularly from the Hollywood studios who refused to fund the film. As a result a lot of outside funding was used and attention was brought to the film as a result of this opposition and a mystique surrounded the film doing more for publicity than any Hollywood distribution funding could have, in all likelihood, achieved. As a result a lot of people saw the film further emphasising its message.

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