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War Film Analysis: Apocalypse Now Directed by Ford Coppola Essay

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“Apocalypse Now” is a legendary war film directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The film’s main theme is devastation, violence, and horror. In this film Coppola thoroughly scrutinized the main characters ideas, behavior, and emotions to depict the darkness and the horror of war. His goal was to make the audience part of the horror. He wanted the audience to have a tremendous impact on this film and he succeeded with the perfect use of sound and editing in the ending sequence of his film. I will demonstrate how Coppola exploits a wide array of sound and editing to create suspense, intensity, and anxiety in the sequence to affect the audience’s emotions, using diegetic ambient sound effects, non-diegetic music, voice over and four editing types.
First of all, the audio is used brilliantly in the sequence. Sound is one of the most powerful tools in cinema. Sound cues us to form expectation and opens up the possibility for the editing. In the beginning of the sequence we see the indigenous people dancing and Willard resting on the boat. However, he is getting ready to complete his mission. When his voice-over comes into play, the audience starts to realize that Willard is becoming insane just like Kurtz, he is becoming part of the jungle and so is the audience. The scene cuts to Willard rising slowly from the water, accompanied by the song “The End” by The Doors. The tribal beat and the song mix together, intensifying the suspense. The odd thing is that the tribal beat is a diegetic sound and the song is a non-diegetic sound. The combination of these two sounds invades each other’s boundaries and creates a hypnotic feeling. “Filmmakers carefully choose which sounds to include on the soundtrack, knowing that emphasizing a particular ...


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...ally we are supposed to deal with evil in a civil manner, but Willard chooses a different path, a darker path. In the climax, right before Willard is about to kill Kurtz, both characters are shown in a dark silhouette, implying that Willard is no longer different from Kurtz. Two different men end up as savage animals. When the madness is over, the audience can briefly see Willard’s half lit face just like Kurtz had his earlier in the film. This implies that Willard has become Kurtz.
In conclusion, I have demonstrated how Coppola exploits a wide array of sound and editing to create suspense, intensity, and anxiety in the sequence to affect the audience’s emotions, using diegetic ambient sound effects, non-diegetic music, voice over and four editing types. With this sequence, Coppola has shown the savagery of war and our complicity in this violence as an audience.



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