Apocalypse is so innocent; he is not
Apocalypse Now Analysis It is human nature to do whatever it takes to survive. In civilization, that means getting a job, making money, and providing food for yourself and your family.
But, when one is found in a habitat that is uncivilized, they go to extreme measures to survive. The movie Apocalypse Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, shows this savage like transformation from civilization to savagery in the jungles of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.Francis Ford Coppola uses symbolism and metaphors through the character’s names, the character’s behaviors, and the use of helicopters to portray this transformation. Every character’s name has a different meaning in the movie. The main character, Captain Benjamin Willard, was assigned a job to travel down the river to kill Colonel Kurtz, a member of the United States army who decided to stop listening to his orders. Captain Benjamin Willard has the word “will” in his last name.
Through out the movie it is evident that Captain Willard has a lot of will power because he is the only character that can stay on the sane side of the jungle. Many times he gets close to becoming a savage, like when he is stuck in a jail cell in Kurtz’s compound, but in the end he remains civilized and leaves the jungle. On Captain Willard’s ship, there were four other men; Mr.
Clean, Chef, Lance, and Chief Philips. Mr. Tyrone ‘Clean’ Miller is called Mr. Clean throughout the movie to show his pure and innocent ways. He is the youngest on board and is very innocent throughout the movie.The idea that the farther one travels into the jungle the more savage like they become is shown with this character.
Mr. Clean is so innocent; he is not ready for the savagery and is killed by the corruptness of the jungle when bullets fly from the trees. In opposition, Lance is the character from the boat that becomes very savage like. When they arrive deep in the jungle at Kurtz’s Compound, he joins the other lost soldiers and becomes a willingly savage servant to Colonel Kurtz.
A lance is a type of spear that was used as a very primitive weapon.Lance’s name foreshadows that he will become a savage and walk around with a lance in his hand at the end of the movie. As the boat travels farther down the river, the characters behaviors become more savage like. One behavior that changes is their eating habits.
When Captain Willard starts his journey at headquarters, he discusses his mission over an eloquent dinner. They use proper manors and pass food dishes accordingly and use knives and forks to eat. Later in the movie, they are sitting around a fire deep in the jungles of Vietnam eating a late dinner with their hands.Eating a proper dinner is a characteristic of an advanced civilization, this transformation shows that the farther into the jungle one travels, the more savage the atmosphere will become.
This idea is also shown by what the characters wear. When Captain Willard steps on board the ship, he and the men are dressed in full army attire with the khaki pants and button down shirt. After each stop, they lose a piece of clothing and by the end Captain Willard has nothing but pants on. They also apply face paint as they travel up the river.The outfits they had on at the end of the movie would not be appropriate in an advanced civilization. The behavior of the soldiers at different camps would also be unacceptable and dramatically get worse the farther into the jungle one travels. For example, in the outer camp, they run around the beach with surfboards intending on surfing.
But as Captain Willard travels farther into the heart of Vietnam he sees uncivilized acts like at the second camp when the entire army jumps over barbed wire and climb on a helicopter like savages just to see some Playboy Playmates.The savage behavior gets worse at the third camp when Captain Willard searches for the man in charge and he is informed that there is none. The men there are just shooting bullets across the river with no reason.
This transformation from order to chaos, which is portrayed through the change in human behaviors, helps Francis Ford Coppola show the transformation from civilization to savagery in the jungles of Vietnam. Throughout the movie, there is a drastic change in the technology, especially with helicopters, which is a symbolic reference Coppola uses to express the change from civilization to savagery.In the beginning of the movie, helicopters are used as a transportation device. Captain Willard uses a helicopter to travel to the first base, where he is given his mission. This use of the helicopter is considered civilized because it is not causing any harm, but rather making life more efficient.
At the second base, the helicopter is used much differently. Although it is still being used to transport a boat, it is also being used as a weapon as Captain Willard and Lieutenant Kilgore bombard a school for no reason.The role of the helicopter changes for the first time at this point in the movie. It is the first transformation that shows the change from a civilized transportation device to a weapon of war.
Helicopters become more violent in their attacks as the setting of the movie travels into the heart of Vietnam. Civilization is completely lost when there are helicopters burning in the trees along the river. The deaths of the helicopters show that there is no need or ability to have technological things like the helicopter in the jungle.These three examples of how the changes of helicopters show the shift from civilization to savagery in Apocalypse Now are just a few examples of the change in technologies Coppola uses. Francis Ford Coppola uses symbolism and metaphors with character’s names, the character’s behaviors, and the use of helicopters to portray the change from civilization to savagery in the jungles of Vietnam during the Vietnam War.
As the setting goes deeper into the heart of darkness of Vietnam, the more savage like they become.