I'm not sure if there could possibly be a more fitting title for this film than "Apocalypse Now." The famous opening scene shows a line of trees for about a minute as we hear helicopters chop-chopping in and out of the frame. We begin to hear the first notes to The Doors' "The End" and as the first words are spoken the entire forest is hit by napalm and bursts into flame silently. Then it fades on one half of the screen to a shot of Martin Sheen's face, and the helicopters are really the ceiling fan? "And all the children, are insane! All the children..."
The first lines spoken in the film is Sheen narrating "
From there the film descends, one scene after another, into a world of chaotic insanity and madness. One of the most memorable scenes is when they pass the last American outpost on the river. Soldiers carrying suitcases swim into the river desperately, crying out "take me home!" When Willard goes onto the crazily lit bridge (we only see his face every time a flare goes up) he asks a soldier who the commanding officer is. The soldier looks horrified and replies "Aint you?" Finally, the film reaches the end of the river. Only a couple of the men are left. Men hang from the trees and skulls decorate the sides of the river. Heads and severed limbs and graffiti (one which says "Apocalypse Now") cover the ancient temple. The beret, Kurtz (played by Marlon Brando) recites poetry and Willard is disturbed to discover the many parallels between him and Kurtz. Kurtz's biggest admirer is "The Photojournalist" played by Dennis Hopper, who says things like "You don't talk to the Colonel. You listen to him...he's a poet-warrior in the classic sense." This is a stunning film to watch, and what is more stunning I can see this again and again and again and never get bored of it.
Original or Redux? There isn't much difference between the two versions. You might want to see Redux for an interesting new way to look at the film (the scenes have been rearranged into a different order) but I would see the original first, which stays closer to the novel on which the film is based, Conrad's Heart of Darkness.
"Arresting a man for murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets at the Indy 500"...good line.