Apocalypse Now/Hearts of Darkness: Ch. 7

Posted in Movie of the week on February 11th, 2014 by bill

(56:37–59:22)

This brief interstitial scene doesn’t really belong with the sequences immediately before or after it. It’s more a continuation of the scene just before the mango-tiger incident, with Willard reviewing the dossier on Kurtz as the rest of the crew relaxes.

The information given here starts to fill in the the nuances of Kurtz’s situation. He is a brilliant if stubborn officer who has “gotten off the boat,” i.e., started doing things his own way and getting results, but stepping on toes in the process. Willard admits in so many words that he is starting to admire the man he is supposed to kill.

As much as anything, this scene is a showcase for the movie’s design department, who put together all the documents seen here and many more. Peter Cowie says that they created “tax returns for Kurtz, a driver’s license for his putative wife, Janet, and countless letters from the colonel to his wife and son.” None of these actually appear in the film, except for a single letter, but one must admire the attention to detail.

However, as a professional editor, I am compelled to point out that this scene contains a glaring error that bothers me every time I hear it. Re Kurtz taking airborne training, Willard says “The next youngest guy in his class was half his age,” when he really means “The next oldest guy in his class was half his age.” Oh well, nobody’s perfect.