Apocalypse Now (1979)
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
In terms of pure action, adrenaline, and realism, “Apocalypse Now” is the greatest war movie I have ever had the pleasure to witness. Over a decade before “Saving Private Ryan” hit the screens, Brando, Sheen, Duvull, and Hopper starred in one of the most intriguing, bloody films this side of Vietnam itself. The haunting soundtrack, lighting/shadow work, and acting are all entirely brilliant successes. When a classified mission leads Sheen’s character to kill Brando’s, a long, deadly boat ride is the only way to get that far off the map. Their encounters with a fearless general, some Playboy bunnies, and natives shooting toy arrows make of the heart of the story, but the interaction once they reach their destination wraps it all up. As far as realism, not once did I question the film’s goal. I bought it the whole two and a half hours (it doesn’t feel as long as it sounds). Shots (both camera and machine gun) came from helicopters, on the ground, and from the woods. Any real gore looked terrifyingly real and gruesome, and anything they didn’t feel would look realistic they shot from afar. The audience didn’t know what hit ’em. They could have filmed it like a documentary and replaced the familiar faces and I would have believed it was recorded. “The horror” describes it perfectly. You owe it to yourself to see this thrill ride.