Friday, August 17, 2001

Apocalypse Now Revisited

It isn’t a picture of real war or the real people there, but a peerless evocation of the war as filtered through technology, the mass media, and the ruins of dead mythologies. In Coppola’s ‘Nam, what’s inescapable isn’t the VC so much as the TV, old movies, show business, and the buzzing feedback of rock’n'roll. Apocalypse Now isn’t about how we invaded Vietnam so much as how the war invaded our psyches, how it permeated pop culture and came to be the sight-and-soundtrack to a new, bad American dream. In that idyll of apocalypse, defeat takes on a perfect, preordained inevitability—when you’ve got nothing left to lose, on some level the war really does become Disneyland with live ammunition, at least until your ticket’s punched—and it develops its own downward-spiral momentum and exhilaration.

 

—Howard Hampton, "Jungle Boogie," Film Comment (May/June 2001)  

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