Skip to main content

Apocalypse Now - My Life




As I write today, I'm thinking about the first time I saw Francis Ford Coppola's truly extraordinary Apocalypse Now - at a preview of its original release - and the unbelievable thrill of hearing the sound of the chopper blades moving around the cinema, and the extraordinary, hallucinogenic flow of images that washed across the screen - and a narrative that was both visionary and experimental, yet grounded in fabulous storytelling - with, of course, a powerful element at its core of Joseph Conrad's already remarkable The Heart of Darkness.

Along with Nicolas Roeg's Performance and certain other films, Apocalypse Now was one of the movies that cemented both my belief that cinema could be GREAT and mind-challenging and provocative and enjoyable and thrilling beyond belief - and BEAUTIFUL - and also one of the movies that made me want to make movies, to aspire to make something as great and as fearless - it certainly was in my mind (there's a direct reference to it in the novel, if you look for it) when I wrote The War Zone.




I also remember reading Eleanor Coppola's (Francis' wife's) account of the making of the film, Notes, which detailed both a significant breakdown in their marriage, a significant breakdown in Francis' personal finances (he had to bet his own money on the film to get it completed - and a lot of money at that, millions of dollars), as well as some kind of profound personal/psychological breakdown on his part - all while filming in the Philippines with the full resources of the Philippine Navy and Air Force (hence, all the choppers) and the heat and humidity and insanity of the jungle.

It is still a remarkable film, and one that I measure others by: how often does a movie come along that sends the kind of charge through your senses that Apocalypse Now did and does? That makes you think about the wildest possibilities of film, or of shadow stories in the dark around a jungle fire?

I still want to create my own worlds of craziness and wonder. It might be in a romantic comedy - who knows, I'd love that? - or it might be with a tale of darkness and despair.






Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The High Tower Apartments and The Long Goodbye

This beautiful apartment complex in Los Angeles is called the Hightower or High Tower Complex (the High Tower name refers to the central elevator, I believe), and was designed in 1935-1936 by architect Carl Kay - and made famous in 1973 by my favorite film, Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye (see Why I Love Robert Altman's The Long Goodbye).


Although Altman used the building as Philip Marlowe's apartment in his somewhat post-modern Long Goodbye (the film plays with references to Old Hollywood and opens and closes with the song, Hooray For Hollywood), the building has another direct connection to Raymond Chandler.


It was apparently the inspiration for Chandler in his book, The High Window (the first Chandler novel I ever read), in which Chandler describes the residence of Philip Marlowe as being on the cliffs above High Tower Drive in a building with a fancy elevator tower. (Thanks to the Society of Architectural Historians Southern California Chapter webpage for that.) 


This ph…

Andrew Hale and Sade

On Thursday evening, we saw our longtime friend Andrew Hale perform with Sade at the HP Pavilion in San Jose, in one of the most beautifully conceived and produced concert performances I have ever seen.

Sade is a rare musician, in that she and the band only write, record and tour every eight to ten years, so that in a very real sense you can measure your life by her.

The band's music is always fresh and always newly conceived - for their previous album, Lovers Rock, they stripped everything down musically to a minimalist sound and banished the saxophone that had been so much a part of Sade's heavily soul- and jazz-influenced style.


The latest album, Soldier of Love, released in 2010, is one of the most tender, moving collections of songs yet, from the astonishingly beautiful Morning Bird, which features exquisite keyboards from Andrew, to the soulful, retro, return-of-the-sax melodies of In Another Time, and the deeply touching, reggae-influenced charm of Babyfather - a partic…

Wong Kar-Wai Compares In The Mood For Love to Hitchcock's Vertigo

Wong Kar-Wai's In The Mood For Love is an incomparable film, beautiful in the way music is beautiful. You can enjoy it for its narrative or you can enjoy favorite passages, over and over again. It is one of my go-to films, for reflection, meditation and sheer pleasure.

The quote below, provided by youmightfindyourself on Tumblr, is a fascinating allusion from Wong Kar-Wai, comparing In The Mood For Love to Vertigo. They are both unforgettable films.





Wong Kar-Wai states he was very influenced by Hitchcock’s Vertigo while making this film, and compares Tony Leung’s film character to James Stewart’s:

“The role of Tony in the film reminds me of Jimmy Stewart’s in Vertigo. There is a dark side to this character. I think it’s very interesting that most of the audience prefers to think that this is a very innocent relationship. These are the good guys, because their spouses are the first ones to be unfaithful and they refuse to be. Nobody sees any darkness in these characters – a…