Francis Ford Coppola: it’s hard to deny he’s a great director. But between a movie-watcher (or critic, if you want to use fancy words), as important as admiration is a factor I’ll call “chemistry”. Me and Francis, well…. I just don’t know if we click. Not that I don’t admire the Godfather, or the Conversation. Of course I do. I used to really like The Rainmaker in my Matt Damon-crush days (aka. when I was 17). In drunken honesty, I’ll admit that I kind of loved Youth without Youth. But there’s a reason I still haven’t watched all of The Godfather, pt. II. There’s a reason I avoid getting dragged into conversations about The Godfather altogether, to be honest. There’s a reason why, until today, I’d seen only the first 2/3rds of Apocalypse Now, and hadn’t taken the time to watch the mythical Kurtz part.
I’m still not entirely sure what the reason is, but finally seeing Apocalypse Now in its entirety (the original version, not the redux) did crystallize my feelings a bit. I was really impressed with the film, and I imagine that I would have been absolutely in awe, had I seen it in the cinema instead of on a snowy TV, interrupted by commercials.
Maybe it’s just my aversion to war films. What’s the quote again? “It’s impossible to make a movie about war that doesn’t glorify it” or something like that? I beg to differ. War movies sicken me, and I have a hard time seeing glory in any war – even justified ones. But it’s not just that. It also… well, it’s not exactly subtle, is it? Not that I require subtlety (I heart Baz Luhrman, after all), but after a dozen shots of faces half in shadows, half lit, am I the only one who feels like shouting “ok, ok, I GET IT” at the screen?
The movie is full of absolutely amazing shots, that I’d love to see in better quality some day. It’s majestic, yes, and there are a number of unforgettable sequences… But the line between majestic and just plain bombastic is very thin indeed. Marlon Brando is brilliantly cast, but having him quote T.S.Eliot? A little over the top, perhaps?
Of course, the movie wouldn’t work at all if it were subtle. It’s truly the work of a madman, and it thrives on the grand symbol, the swelling Wagner, the blood and madness. War IS excessive brutality, and a brutal assault on the senses is, thus, the only honest way to portray it. The over-the-top-ness is necessary to illustrate the absurdity of war. Again, I admire the film, I’m even planning on seeing the redux version (in, hopefully, better quality) soon.
But the click? Still missing.
Readers: help me out. Should I wattch Tetro?