It’s a week before Christmas, the shops are packed, there’s tinsel everywhere and there’s just a little bit too much forced cheer. What do you need? Frances Ford Coppola’s (The Godfather) brutal trip into the heart of darkness: Apocalypse Now. That’s what.
This 1979 Vietnam epic nearly ruined its director, and the grueling journey the cast and crew had making the film is the stuff of legend. Martin Sheen plays Captain Willard, a soldier sent deep into the jungle charged with killing Marlon Brando’s renegade Colonel Kurtz. With scenes such as the famous attack on the village set to Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries” and the surreal playboy bunny set-piece, Coppola constructs a near-mythic work that is better able to shine a light on the horror of American excess, lawlessness and insanity in Vietnam than any of the more factually accurate depictions of the conflict.
Apocalypse Now’s irresistible combination of spectacular bombast, hallucinatory imagery and a killer score more than justify a trip to the cinema. So feed your inner Grinch by choosing a deranged Denis Hopper and Marlon Brando with a god-complex over Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed this December.