In Vietnam in 1970, Captain Willard takes a perilous and increasingly hallucinatory journey upriver to find and terminate Colonel Kurtz, a once-promising officer who has reportedly gone completely mad. In the company of a Navy patrol boat filled with street-smart kids, a surfing-obsessed Air Cavalry officer, and a crazed freelance photographer, Willard travels further and further into the heart of darkness.
Quotes from the film:
"Im a little man, Im a little man, hes hes a great man! I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas." - Photojournalist, 'Apocalypse Now'.
"Hey, man, you don't talk to the Colonel. You listen to him. The man's enlarged my mind." - Photojournalist, 'Apocalypse Now'.
"I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream; that's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor... and surviving." - Colonel Kurtz, 'Apocalypse Now'
Apocalypse Now demonstrates the propensity of civilization to lead to extreme acts of senseless violence. Kurtz, the villain whom Willard pursues throughout the film, has taken the ideal of civilization too far. He resides in a world of his own making at the heart of the jungle. Willards journey to the heart of darkness deep within Vietnams jungle leads him to the dark core of civilization itself, which reflects the universal difficulties with acculturation that Freud raises in Civilization and its Discontents.
We recognize as cultural all activities and resources which are useful to men for making the earth serviceable to them, for protecting them against the violence of the forces of nature, and so on, reads Freuds definition of civilization. By building societies, by pitting man against nature, by dedicating ourselves to creation, we display our advancement as a species. What is war, then, if not the stretching to an extreme of civilization and everything it represents? War turns these ideals of harmony and productivity into tension, dehumanization and destruction. Freud writes of cleanliness and order as compulsions towards civilization/ associated with the end of civilization.
The society Kurtz creates in Apocalypse Now is a microcosm of larger civilization, a society within a society complete with Kurtz as king and an entire network of subjugated natives. Kurtz exercises violence as a force of control...