AFI Top 100 – No. 30 Apocalypse Now


There is a reason there are a plethora of Vietnam War themed movies on this list. No war has been as controversial and there were so many new horrors of war. The Deer Hunter, Platoon, and even Taxi Driver and Forrest Gump have already highlighted how the Vietnam War adversely affected people. I don’t think any of those truly made the impact Apocalypse Now did. The scene where they in the helicopters, blasting away at a village, shooting people who are trying to escape on yaks, was shocking. You could argue the village scene in Platoon was worse because it was face to face and more personal but this, this was different. The soldiers in Platoon were angry and upset, while in Apocalypse Now there was no emotion in their killing, during that scene anyway.

Another scene that underscored its anti-war theme was the boat scene. Despite doing nothing wrong, other than hiding a puppy, these people were killed… killed due to fear. The fact they felt as though they needed to hide the puppy demonstrates the way they had been treated by Americans previously…

Of course the whole premise of the mission, to kill an American general who has gone rogue, further accentuates the antiwar theme. Should the government be allowed to assassinate one of its own citizens without trial, even if the citizen is a threat to the nation? It is an argument we still face today, most recently when a drone strike targeted and killed an American member of al-Qaeda.

Apocalypse Now makes you think and reflect on the horrors of war. It’s been three days since we watched it and I continue to debate points in my head. This was a well-made movie that I am glad I finally watched.

Next Up: Double Indemnity

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