The first time I saw this movie, I had just graduated High School and went with friends to see what I had heard was a disturbing Vietnam War movie. What I witnessed was much more than a movie about Vietnam. It is one of the first times I became so engrossed in a film that I had to see it again the next day to understand what it was really all about. The cinematography, the music, and the superb acting was a study in how a movie should be made.
The film tells about a personally tomented US Army assassin (played by Martin Sheen) who’s mission was to ‘terminate’ what had become a dangerous, and lawless warlord. His journey became both a mental and physical one, and you immediately became drawn into his psyche. The target of his assasination was former Colonel Kurtz (played by Marlon Brando) who had gone AWOL and become a self-appointed god, and rules a band of native warriors in the jungle. As I watched it the first time I immediately thought of an adult Lord of the Flies tale, and I got exactly what I expected.
“Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. They brought it up to me like room service…It was a real choice mission – and when it was over, I never want another…” Say’s Sheen’s character and you become part of this mission.
This was also my first glimpse at the actor Martin Sheen and after viewing his perfomrance I became a life long fan of his work. The movie was brillantly directed (Francis Ford Coppola) as everything worked together; the camera, the music, the actors and the locations. Even today when I sit down to watch this masterpiece I walk away a bit disturbed.
The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Supporting Actor (Robert Duvall), Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Art Direction/Set Decoration, and Best Film Editing, but the film won only two well-deserved awards: Best Cinematography (Vittorio Storaro) and Best Sound.