I know that I’m not alone when I say that Apocalypse Now is in the top three, if not my absolute favorite film of all time. I first saw it in its full glory as Apocalypse Now: Redux which was released when I was 18. My father is a Vietnam Veteran, so I have always been interested in films revolving around one of the craziest wars in the history of the world. Later on, I saw it in its original theatrical version, which is much shorter than Redux and omits some of the wilder or more political scenes.
I was lucky enough to attend the world premiere of Apocalypse Now: The Final Cut (but is it really the final final cut?) at the Beacon Theater. Francis Ford Coppola was in attendance. One of the things he said before the film aired was that he always believed that the original theatrical cut was too short and that Redux was too long. The final cut is the Goldilocks of Apocalypse Now, what Coppola and company think to be the film in its true final form.
During Coppola’s address to the audience before the film, he brought out one of the most integral actors to this film, if his presence is only seen for a short time. That being the legendary Robert Duvall. I cheered as loud as most people do at football games because this moment was essentially my version of my home team winning the Super Bowl. It was one of the coolest moments I’ve ever experienced. He was on stage for that long, but he did say “Charlie Don’t Surf!!!!” which is an iconic line that his character Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore says to Martin Sheen’s Captain Benjamin L. Willard.
“…an army officer suffering from severe PTSD, who after one tour in Vietnam, feels a desperate need to return because he can’t function at home…”
Kilgore also has one of the best monologues in film history, (of which this film contains at least three) which goes as such after the First Air Cavalry (which is also the division my father was in) bombs a village. “Smell that? You smell that? … Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. … I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like victory. Someday this war’s gonna end.”