SilentDawn’s review published on Letterboxd:
Vibrant, shadowy, methodical, and brilliantly insane; Apocalypse Now might just be the finest film from Francis Ford Coppola's filmography. It is a cinematic experience like none other; a journey into the heart of the human soul, with darkness and depravity lurking in every pitch-black corner.
The direction by Francis Ford Coppola is genius. With a variety of textured close-ups, wide and grand battle shots, and stunning moments of beauty; Coppola crafts a slow and subtle film that is easy to get lost in.
The cinematography by Vittorio Storaro is the finest ever committed to film. No exaggeration, no hyperbole; there is no finer accomplishment in the history of film when it comes to cinematography. The lush green and orange hues, the mushy and endless blacks, the deserted and dusty browns, the sudden splashes of light, the sparks of flares, the immaculate foliage of the jungle; all of those aspects combine to make for a masterpiece of visual form. It deserves to be put up in the ranks of Bach and Michelangelo. Yes, I'm serious.
The casting is just wonderful, with Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall and Dennis Hopper being standouts in a field of many. When the camera focuses on Brando's or Martin's expression as they fade in and out of darkness, I'm mesmerized.
The story, based loosely on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, is a revelation of both storytelling and visual themes. John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola bring the style of the novel and inject it into the setting of the Vietnam War, and it works because many of the same themes in the novel were ever-present in Vietnam. That mishmash of visual poetry and masterful layering of motifs equals a film that has just as much literary power as visual gravitas.
The setting of Vietnam is simultaneously disgusting and sublimely colorful. Depicted masterfully, here is a world that is both tantalizing and frightening. Yet it is a environment that we can't help but peer into, hopefully not falling too deep into the allure of the massive jungle. The massive trees, the distressing river, the hidden enemies; it is a setting that is used to its fullest.
Overall, how much more can be said about Apocalypse Now that hasn't already been shouted to the heavens? Simply put, it is one of the essential films of our time. It is a film to learn from, and a film to study. Ambitious, grand, and intimate; it is unrivaled in its accomplishment and execution. Take the ride, you won't regret it.