Francis Ford Coppola (dir.), Apocalypse Now (1979)
“Vietnam, 1969. Burnt out Special Forces officer Captain Willard is sent into the jungle with top-secret orders to find and kill renegade Colonel Kurtz who has set up his own army within the jungle. As Willard descends into the jungle, he is slowly over taken by the jungle’s mesmerizing powers and battles the insanity which surrounds him. His boat crew succumbs to drugs and is slowly killed off one by one. As Willard continues his journey he becomes more and more like the man he was sent to kill.” (IMDB Plot Summary)
There are two lectures here: the one from 2014 is a full Arts One lecture on the film. The one from 2015 is just half a lecture (50 minutes); the first half was a lecture on Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
In this lecture, Jon Beasley-Murray argues that in Coppola’s film, the fantasy of an investment with Kurtz is much stronger than in Conrad’s novella (on which it is based), but ironically all the more impossible. Coppola’s dream is to do away with the technology that has made this war crazy. But without that same technology, the film itself could not be made. He fears that we are in a war without end(s), only exacerbated by the media used to record it.
In this lecture, Derek Gladwin talks about the degree to which this film revisits Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and deviates from it (the students had just read Conrad’s novella), the style of filmaking that this film could be said to fit into, the historical and cultural context of the film, and cultural and literary references in the film.
Note that the videorecording was set to automatically stop at a certain time, and the lecture wasn’t quite finished at that time, so some got cut off at the end. Also, the lecturer showed some clips from the film which, due to copyright, we can’t record and show on a public website, so those parts have been cut out of the videorecording.
The video plus sides can be seen on the UBC Media Site system.
The video without slides is also available on YouTube:
- Mediasite (video for 2014 lecture plus slides)
- Powerpoint (pdf slides for 2014 lecture)
- Powerpoint (slide presentation for 2014 lecture)
- Link to the presentation for the 2015 lecture on Prezi
See also Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness.
- How does Coppola translate Conrad’s imagery of light and dark (in Heart of Darkness) into the medium of film?
- Compare Kurtz’s last words in Coppola’s film (“the horror”) to their appearance in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
- Conrad’s Marlow does not kill Kurtz, but Coppola’s Willard does. Discuss.
- Discuss the representation of globality—the connections among the disparate spaces and states of the earth—in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.