Apocalypse Now Essay

829 words - 3 pages

Apocalypse Now

This film, from 1979 was directed by Francis Ford Coppula and starred Martin Sheen (Capt. Willard) and Marlon Brando (Col. Kurtz). The film takes place during the 1970's in the middle of the Vietnam War. Coppula was rewarded for his hard work by winning the Academy Award for cinematography. The story is based on the novel "Hearts of Darkness", by Joseph Conrad. The book and film depicts Capt. Willard in the middle of the Vietnam searching for Col. Kurtz, who has gone mad and started his own private war. Apocalypse Now uses its scenes to show three types of horror including psychological, gore, and surprise. Psychological horror plays with human rationalization. Gore shows a stunning or violent action. Surprise horror is instilling fear by catching the viewer off guard. Each type of horror appeals to different parts of human fear and requires different methods to pull it off properly.
Psychological horror is the fear of a believable, reasonable force. It outs a mirror in front of the viewer and asks him what he would in the situation. Many scenes in the film utilize this form of horror, but none more clearly than the river boat scene where Willard and his crew emerges from a heavy mist to see a large group of villagers facing them in their own boats. An uncertain grayness covers the screen and suddenly shifts to a vivid image of a group on the river that is staring forward, penetratingly grabs the attention of the viewer. The tension between the two groups is made apparent as the two opposing forces stare at each other. If one side makes any move the other is sure to as well and would mean deaths for both. The viewer is now put into the situation where they must ask themselves if they could handle the tension and not make any move. He also uses close-ups to show the viewer that these villagers are real people that have been made to look like and think like savages. Coppula uses psychological horror to illustrate the barrier between Willard's world and Kurtz's world as a means of horror in the viewer's mind.
The second type of horror is gore, in which a painful experience is relayed to the viewer. Gore comes to life in films by using special effects to have the viewer empathize with the characters. The best example of this in Apocalypse Now is when the river...

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