Sidetracks: Apocalypse Again

14 08 2008

Writing another Archive File post about Platoon/Apocalypse Now parallells (coming soon) I needed some quotations so I looked for a transcript of Apocalypse 

Reading transcripts makes you pay attention to details which are easy to overlook while watching the movie. This time a line caught my attention: Willard: “Charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500”. Sounds somehow familiar, doesn’t it? Ignorant as I am, I’ve always assumed that Bunny’s: “ain’t nothing like a piece of pussy cept maybe the Indie 500” is about a car model. But in Apocalypse it made no sense. Well, back to the roots… I mean, to Wikipedia: 

QUOTE: The Indianapolis 500-Mile Race, often shortened to Indianapolis 500 or Indy 500, and historically known simply as “The 500,” is an American automobile race, held annually over the Memorial Day weekend at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in Speedway, Indiana. 

Having the text I also looked closer at a little unclarity in Apocalypse’s narration. I’ve always had the impression that the first scene (Willard lying in bed in a hotel room) happens AFTER the mission, and the story is told in retrospection, although it’s hard to say where the retrospection starts. And there is indeed a break, even if it’s implied only by a grammatical change of the voiceover.

It starts with:

“Saigon, shit. I’m still only in Saigon. Every time I think I’m going to wake up back in the jungle. When I was home after my first tour, it was worse. I’d wake up and there’d be nothing…(…) I’ve been here a week now. Waiting for a mission, getting softer. Every minute I stay in this room I get weaker. And every minute Charlie squats in the bush he gets stronger. Each time I look around the walls move in a little tighter.” 

The “breaking the mirror” scene follows. With the two “messengers” appearing at Willard’s door, there is a sudden change of the POV. Willard turns from present into past and beginns to tell his story:

“Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I’d never want another.” (the scene with the shower follows) “I was going to the worst place in the world, and I didn’t even know it yet. Weeks away and hundreds of miles up a river …”

The rest of the voiceover is written in the past tense. 

It almost looks like Willard who is still (again?) in Saigon recalls his whole mission. As if his story made a full loop and he ended exactly in the place he was starting from… I wonder if it was intentional or just a side effect of re-cutting the movie for the x-th time.

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