Apocalypse Now is one of the “best” movies ever made, in my opinion (acknowledging that “best” is in the eye of the beholder, though there are a lot of people that think this). More than that, it is a brilliantly told story, albeit the storytelling is via a movie. Of course, it is a retelling of Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. In case you have missed it, the story is about the descent of one man into insanity to confront another who has already descended to that place. Who knew there is an exceptionally thoughtful review of it on YouTube?
The movie was directed by the legendary Francis Ford Coppola, and includes an amazing cast: Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Laurence Fishburne, Dennis Hopper, and Harrison Ford (long before Indiana Jones and Star Wars). But the movie is more than just a director and talented actors. This is one that transcends the standard two hours in a theater. This is a story that magically pulls you in as few stories do.
Like many of us, I’ve sat through more than enough lit classes. I’ve been told by innumerable professors what the author was really saying after we finished the last reading assignment. So at this point in my life I’m usually uninterested in hearing another critical review or analysis of a story.
As luck would have it, though, today I stumbled onto a ~80 min reivew on YouTube of Apocalypse Now. Not only is it one of the most fascinating analysis of that immensely complex movie, it is also very fine editing to show the visual evidence of the various points the reviewer was making.
I’m gushing on, but it was a brilliant analysis of the theme, characterization and character development (a lot on this, actually), the plot, how the plot was structured, subtle (and not so subtle) foreshadowing, etc.
One of the things that most fascinated me about this movie is that the main character is surprisingly passive. In spite of that, he is an immensely complex character who drives the story, but in scene after scene he is alone, he rarely speaks, and in a movie thick with action and violence, he is strangely a bystander through much of it (until the final scene). This intrigues me because one of my MCs is similar, which is challenging as a storyteller in our world which favors dialog and does not like “telling”. You can read more about her here in one of her more active scenes.
In all events, whether you know the Heart of Darkness story or not, the person who did this analysis covers a lot of ground any storyteller should be attentive to and from which they can benefit.
Sharing it here in the hope you will find it helpful as you work on your own fiction.