Apocalypse Now is kind of like the "2001: A Space Odyssey" of the war genre in that it's a story of a long, far away journey that culminates into a meeting with a strange godlike figure. And even though you might not know what it all meant, what you <i>do</I> know is that whatever it was, it was pretty damn epic, pretty damn trippy, and in the end, pretty damn cool.
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The imagery and the surrealness throughout this film all lead up into a piece of work that could've easily been a number one film fave on any other director's filmography. And yet, for Francis Ford Coppola, the fact that there are still two other movies of his that are (not just in my opinion, but in many others as well) even better than this grand "arty" 'Nam epic (obviously I'm referring The Godfather Parts I and II of course), it is a great testament that the 70's was a period of time that showcased FFC's abilities as that of a great director in his prime.
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BTW, Hearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, a documentary that follows the true story of how Apocalypse Now was made, is not only a great companion piece to this film, but a also a great work of cinema in it's own right (definitely worth it's own watch).