Apocalypse Now Film Techniques

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Apocalypse Now (1979) is a film directed by Francis Ford Coppola about the Vietnam War. The film opens in Saigon in 1968, where a US army captain Benjamin Willard, starred by Martin Sheen, is holed up in a hotel room. He has completed one tour of duty in Vietnam. After agreeing to a divorce with his wife, he has returned to Vietnam for a second tour and now waits restlessly for a mission. In the opening scene of the film, the director uses various film techniques to establish the protagonist’s traumatized state of mind and convey that he is desperate to get back to action.

Coppola reveals that Willard is shell-shocked by his past experience of the Vietnam War through the use of several film techniques. To begin, composition is used to present that Willard is in a state of confusion. In Willard’s first shot, his face is inverted as he lies on his bed in the hotel. By having his head inverted, it is metaphorically symbolizing that his psyche and life is “upside down” and that he is disoriented as a result of the war. This is followed by the camera movement rotating above his face. Not only does this corroborate his mental disturbance, but the high camera angle also hints that he is powerless, and that it is beyond his control to push away these thoughts. Furthermore, to
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These mentalities deteriorate as the film progresses, with the background non-diegetic music that is behind all the aforementioned film techniques intensifying and picking up speed. Towards the end, Willard seems to have reached his breaking point and is undergoing a nervous breakdown. This could foreshadow the arrival of war as he, the leader can no longer hold it back; the war seems inevitable to “erupt” as he

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