Thursday, April 18, 2024

Civil War (2024)

America "in the Twilight Zone"
or
"You Never Know What's Coming Around the Next Corner."

There was part of me that wanted to write a long preamble prior to watching Alex Garland's Civil War and lead with that. I'm glad I resisted that idea. Because if there's one thing I've learned about Alex Garland is that he never makes the movie you expect he's going to make. That was true of Ex Machina and Annihlation and Men. None of those—two of them sci-fi and one out-and-out horror film—defied expectations and were something completely different from either your expectations or experiences. You may come out confused, or disoriented, but you would hardly be bored. You might even walk out pissed off. But, not bored.
But, Civil War is not science fiction, it's speculative fiction (and oblique speculative fiction, at that)...there's no fancy technology—this war is conducted with Humvee's, automatic weapons, and helicopters (there's not even a drone in sight!). It's speculative...but not the way you might think it is...like, with some recognizable political perspective that reflects the fractured state we appear to be in now. There's plenty of things for people to cherry-pick (we'll look at those), but just as many things to confound that perspective (we'll look at those, too).
The President (
Nick Offerman) is preparing a speech to the Nation about America's latest victories in the war with the "Western Front"—a group of secessionist states at war with the government. "It is," in his words, "the greatest victory in the history of military campaigns."
That's hardly "The War to End All Wars" language. But, it is enough to raise literal questions among a quartet of journalists embarking to set off to Washington D.C. to try to interview the President, despite POTUS labeling the press as "enemy combatants." The group is Sammy (
Stephen McKinley Henderson), a veteran reporter who writes "for what's left of The New York Times" and who labels the President's latest announcement as "nothing, he could have chosen words at random; Joel (Wagner Moura), a war correspondent from Reuters, who seems to have a "jones" for being in the thick of the action; Lee Smith (Kirsten Dunst), a award-winning photojournalist, also from Reuters; and Jessie (Cailee Spaeny), a young up-and-coming photojournalist wannabe, whom Lee saved from getting concussed by a bombing of an Environmental Protection truck at a New York City protest. Sammy walks with a cane and Lee thinks he's too old and too fat to be useful where they're going, and she's pissed at Joel for letting Jessie talk him into letting her go on their journey. She thinks all the "baby-sitting" will get in the way of getting the story.
Their passengers should be the least of her worries. The 857 mile trip to D.C. will be littered with evidence of a country in crisis. Major highways are clogged with abandoned cars, shopping malls appear to be ground-zeros for attacks with crashed choppers in the paring lot and the ubiquitous short-stay high-rise hotels are chunked by missile damage. Tracers dot the skies at night amid the muffled reports of automatic weapons fire. Snipers occupy roof-tops, and an abandoned stadium is a handy, if crowded refugee camp for Americans bombed out of their living quarters. Spielberg tried to depict the concept of "American refugees" in his version of War of the Worlds, but Garland's version has all the verisimilitude of the nightly news, only a bit tidier.
So, what happened to us? Nothing is spelled out—we aren't given a long opening crawl to read at the beginning—we're just plopped down in the middle of the chaos (not unlike 
Haskell Wexler's Medium Cool) to learn what we can. Some of it sounds plausible: possible questions the group might ask when they reach their destination are tossed around like "Mr. President, do you have any regrets during your third term?" (third term?) "How about your dismantling of the FBI?" "Do you regret ordering air-strikes on American citizens?" When they stop to get gas, the surly militia guys guarding the pumps won't fill the tank for $300...but they will for $300, "Canadian."
But, there are disconnects that take you out of direct parallels: Lee is most famous for "the legendary picture of 'the Antifa massacre'." The "Western Forces" moving into Washington D.C. are a combined unit of the states of California and Texas (with reinforcements from the "Florida Alliance"). Both of those concepts jolt you out of thinking Civil War has anything to do with reality, but its concept of a trigger-happy America with grudges around every corner skews a bit closer to the home we know. As is the section where they drive through a seemingly normal rural town—reminded that there's a civil war going on, a shop-clerk says "we try to stay out of it" while the roof-tops are scouted by snipers.
The civil war isn't really the focus of the movie, either, but the back-drop in which reporters have to thread their way through "unprecedented times" to "get the story." And record truth in the same way they record conflicts in foreign countries. The good and the bad, but mostly bad. And they do it unblinking because someone has to look. And tell the tale. So others can decide. Although Lee admits that when she was covering foreign hot-spots, she was hoping to send home the message "Don't Do This."
 
For all the good it did. Most people ignore it or "stay out of it." Lucky them.
"Where's Joel?"
"Processing..."
For however preposterous the particulars, the general idea is that it can happen here...and might. And then the Constitution starts shredding, as people start to force their own interpretation on others. There is one cracker-jack of a scene—at some point it'll show up as a Sunday "Don't Make a Scene"—that features an un-billed Jesse Plemons as a militiaman in charge of a dubious operation that the quartet stumble upon that quickly escalates to a hostage situation, the "Are you American? What kind of American are you?" scene that is only hinted at in the trailers. He's crossed over where he doesn't need to know particulars ("Reuters? What's that?") nor does he care to learn. He makes decisions cavalierly and unhesitatingly and doesn't care if he makes a mistake—he'll just bury it. Plemons is so good at playing casually dangerous that the scene crackles with the authenticity of a body-cam and with escalating horror. Yeah, it could happen. It could definitely happen.
If there's a fault to be had, it's of the "Chekhov's Gun" variety—things talked about in the opening become significant in the second and third act as the stakes build. But, one can concede the point that this is veterans talking about the dangers and imparting wisdom to uninitiated. They impart that wisdom in the hope that it doesn't happen. But, it's happened before, so they talk about it, knowing full well that what's happened before...
The movie ends when the particular goals are met and things achieved. But like most Garland movies, it leaves you asking "What Happens Next", although the most typical scenario is discussed—as if by order of Chekhov. But, that is not Civil War's concern. It rack-focuses your mind back to the journalists and what has just transpired because at some point the movie has to end, and one is left contemplating the "Who" and the "What" and the "When" and the "How."

But, never the "Why."

Wednesday, April 17, 2024

Don't Bother To Knock

Don't Bother To Knock
(
Roy Ward Baker, 1952) The McKinley Hotel in New York is apparently not what it used to be. For example, there's no baby-sitting service, and that vexes the Joneses (Lurene Tuttle and Jim Backus), who are attending a soiree in the joint's ballroom. But, elevator operator Eddie Forbes (Elisha Cook Jr.) has a neat solution: his niece, Nell (Marilyn Monroe) has just come into town and needs a job. Eddie asks her to look after the Jones' kid, Bunny (Donna Corcoran) and she shows up to look after the kid while Mom and Dad are downstairs.
 
That's all neat and tidy...seemingly. What isn't neat and tidy is the on-going non-relationship between Skyways airline pilot Jed Towers (Richard Widmark) and a singer employed at the hotel, Lyn Lesly (Anne Bancroft, in her screen debut). Lyn had sent Jed a "Dear John" letter ending their six month relationship, sending him into a tail-spin. He's checked into the McKinley to confront her about it and doesn't like it when she tells him that he doesn't "have an understanding heart." Of course, he doesn't understand, so he goes back to his room to sulk ("The female race is always cheesing up my life!").
Across the way is the Jones' apartment, where Nell is baby-sitting, and makes herself at home. That means different things to different people, but to Nell it means trying on Mrs. Jones' negligee and earrings, lipstick, and shpritzing the woman's perfume. It's clear that Nell may not be the best sitter that could have been hired, and might actually need a sitter herself, given her disregard for the personal property of the folks who hired her. Dolling herself up, whatever her reasons, is enough to attract the interest of Jed, who's nursing the earlier break-up and a bottle of whiskey.
When Nell catches him peeping, she draws the blinds, which only amuses Jed. This being the 1950's and Jed being a "man's man" pilot and all, he calls her up on the house phone and tries to talk his way over for a night-cap, but Nell, after initially being interested, hangs up on him.
Meanwhile Eddie (because he knows "her history") stops by to check up on her and is shocked to find her in Mrs. Jones' "things" and tells her that she has to put everything back—he's had his job 14 years and he doesn't want her to do anything to risk it. Besides, if she wants the finer things in life she should stop mooning over her dead boyfriend and move on. She changes, but when Eddie leaves, she puts everything back on.
 
Then, she calls Jed and invites him over.
Even though the film is 70 years old, we'll stop there for spoilers because it's the surprises that make Don't Bother To Knock an interesting see. Nell is such a mystery with hair-pin turns that you wonder what could possibly happen next...and then you get jolted again. "I can't figure you out! You're silk on one side and sandpaper on the other!" Jed yammers in frustration. The truth is he won't figure her out, even Nell can't figure herself out. She's stuck in a loop and all people can do is follow her down her rabbit-holes.
Which is why it's amazing that it's Marilyn Monroe playing Nell. Monroe performances you always take with a grain of salt—at least a grain of sympathy or empathy—and not to make a pun of it but she's graded on the curve, allowances are made. And just as frustrated directors found out the hard way, Monroe knew that the camera loved her and knew how to use it. The camera was the one thing in Hollywood she could trust. With the bar of excellence seemingly lowered, you come away more than a little impressed.
What had she done before? Cameo's basically. In The Asphalt Jungle and All About Eve, she'd had scenes where she made an impression when she was on the screen, which was minimally. And the parts called for sexy but not voraciously so. Her dramatic role in Fritz Lang's Clash By Night was small, but Don't Bother to Knock, despite its pulp origins and low budget was a huge...if somewhat daunting... role—play "crazy" but sympathetic.
And she's pretty amazing at it. Even with sympathy filters up, there's a lot of work here that tosses the control that she maintained in most of her performances and you're struck by how genuinely alarming it is. Even on-set Bancroft was impressed: "It was a remarkable experience. Because it was one of those very few times in all my experiences in Hollywood when I felt that give and take that can only happen when you are working with good actors. There was just this scene of one woman seeing another woman who was helpless and in pain, and [Marilyn] was helpless and in pain. It was so real, I responded. I really reacted to her. She moved me so that tears came into my eyes."
Almost immediately, she would use her energies for the artifice of star performances that would turn Elton John's "candle-in-the-wind" into kleig lights.

Tuesday, April 16, 2024

It's Complicated

Written at the time of the film's release...

"Karma is the Ultimate Bitch in this One"
or,
If You Can't Stand the Hot-Flash, Get Out of the Kitchen.


It's refreshing to see a movie about a mature couple of advanced age—mine—dealing with post break-up issues. I just wish they weren't being so immature while doing it.

Jane Adler (Meryl Streep) is reaching a transition point in her life—approaching "empty nester" age: her oldest daughter Lauren (Caitlin Fitzgerald) is engaged to Harley (John Krasinski), middle daughter Gabby (Zoe Kazan) is moving out of the house, and youngest, Luke (Hunter Parrish) is graduating from college. Her ex-husband Jake (Alec Baldwin) is now married to young "Ms. Thang" Agness (Lake Bell), with an inherited son (from her last affair), Pedro (Emjay Anthony). She has decided that she's going to expand her nest...er, house so she can have "the kitchen she's always dreamed of;" she runs a salonish bakery, and she can cook (second movie this year—Julie & Julia from Nora Ephron, this one from Nancy Meyers, both of whom seem to be trying to keep Streep in the kitchen).
Youngest son's graduation pulls the whole family together in New York, with Jake "flying solo" due to family illness. Once there, the two old marrieds hook up, and once Jane is tanked, there occurs a "once more for old times' sake" canoodling that leaves him satisfied and her vomiting.
Most guys would take that as a sign, but not Jake
. Soon, he's spending too much time at Jane's, telling his ex-wife that his current wife doesn't understand him, and while it may seem like sweet revenge for Jane, she's also creeped out by it, so much so that she won't tell the kids, and allows it to interfere with a budding romance with her architect (Steve Martin). Now, maybe I've been watching too many "Nature" shows on elephants lately, but I could have used David Attenborough to explain this mating ritual to me.
Maybe it's that Martin and Baldwin are playing the roles the other should have taken:
Martin's love interest is a deferential, shell-shocked divorcee with a manner that reminded me of Charlie Ruggles, and Baldwin's in full pursed lips obnoxious priss mode (without the "30 Rock" irony) that makes his character not so much funny as alarming. And Streep, consummate pro that she is, works the material for all its worth, fluttering and kvelling and kvetching, making Jane seem two pastries shy of a brunch. There are times when there seems to be some acknowledgment of time—Jane is constantly fanning herself, as if caught in a hot-flash, but the next instant she's giggling like Juno.
The one guy who seems to be doing something interesting is John Krasinski, as the not-yet husband who finds he's baby-sitting his future in-laws, and is the only one who seems to rise above the material to be doing something interesting—interesting and funny. As the only fully-informed character in the cast, he manages to convey the screwball nature of the situation, acting as the surrogate audience, eyes widening with each embarrassing compromise. He makes Meyers the director—with her sledge-hammer reaction shots and uneven pacing seem far more successful than she is.

Sunday, April 14, 2024

Don't Make a Scene: Apocalypse Now

The Story: "I wanted a mission...and for my sins, they gave me one."
 
Apocalypse Now lurches like a drunken bear between realism and surrealism. Of course, it originated with John Milius (maybe more so, than even Joseph Conrad). Told by one of his film instructors at USC that Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" had even challenged adaptation by Orson Welles, Milius made it his own personal mission to scale that mountain, bring down that beast, and conquer that wave by making his own adaptation, setting it during the Vietnam War and titling it (satirically) "Apocalypse Now"—after seeing hippies (whom he loathed) wearing pins that said "Nirvana Now." His treatment was part of the American Zoetrope package that Francis Ford Coppola sold to Warner Brothers, which was cancelled after the lackluster box-office of its first released film, George Lucas' THX-1138—the result of which led to Coppola taking "a job" to save the studio—a little gangster movie that Paramount was about to produce into the ground called The Godfather.

It's a quite often-told tale, that.

But, as austere as "Heart of Darkness" is, Milius' "Apocalypse Now" is flamboyant, taking the particular eccentricities of the Vietnam war—the drugs, the music, the racial mix, the mechanization vs. guerilla fighting, and blowing them up in vast neon gouts of napalm. It can be accused of reveling in the very things it's trying to abhor, but that's a symptom of so many "high concept" films. 
 
Even this scene, which is, ostensibly, "by the book," has its flashes of weirdness—Marlon Brando's disembodied voice, the cut to a close-up of the shrimp entree just as he says the words "crawling, slithering" (enough to put you off your "surf and turf"), the whole vibe of a business luncheon while talking about a murder that "doesn't exist, and never will exist." The distaste that the uniforms feel in ordering the killing of one of their own (G.D. Spadlin's general has a general look of dyspepsia while Harrison's Ford's colonel seems to be fighting his own rising bile), while the civilian—who knows who HE is?—is as perfunctory as if he was a business man fulfilling an order. 
 
And he's the only one who comes out and says, basically, "kill the colonel" (and with "extreme prejudice") in the veiled argot of non-accountability (as composed by Milius and Coppola).

But, it's those moments of Martin Sheen...looking directly at the camera...that truly haunt. By the time they occur, we're well acquainted with the askance sight-lines he has of the other characters in the scene, so when he's looking at us in those dark moments of dialogue ("Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature"), what is he looking at? Is he looking for answers? Is he looking for approval or acknowledgment (we are, after all, the recipient of his inner-most thoughts)? Is he looking to let us know he's in a trap? Is he looking into his possible future of the choices he'll be forced to make (there IS a lot of fore-shadowing in this movie, with cross-faded images of idols and such)? 

Maybe it's the only place he can look in a room full of implied threats and unspoken deadly intent...and feel safe? Feel like Himself?

It's just another one of those mysteries that flit in and out of the Big Ideas and Big Set-pieces like shrapnel and chaos trying to be contained...and never can be.

Also, it should be noted with regret that Eleanor Coppola died Friday—she accompanied her husband, with their family, on the arduous journey to make Apocalypse Now, where she filmed extensive back-stage material, which was incorporated into the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (which I've embedded below, but Lord knows how long it will stay available), one of the best documentaries about film-making, obsession, and might even be closer in spirit to the themes of Joseph Conrad's source material than previous adaptations. Her book on the experience, "Notes," is an amazing read.
Ci mancherĂ  moltissimo 
The Set-Up: Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen) is "still" in Vietnam. He'd done his tour and returned home, got divorced and re-enlisted. An Army assassin with Special Forces, he has been languishing in a Saigon hotel, drinking, smoking, "getting softer" (in his words) when he is recruited for a mission quite unlike any other in his known experience. He has been called to meet General R. Corman (G.D. Spradlin), Colonel Lucas (Harrison Ford), and a civilian he does not know (Jerry Ziesmer)
 
Action.
 
EXT. MILITARY COMPOUND - DAY 
A darkly painted Huey lands in a guarded military compound somewhere in Nah Trang. The two enlisted men jump out of the helicopter, leading Willard, who seems in much better shape. As he gets out he sees a platoon of new men drilling in the hot hazy sun. They are clean and pale. 
MEN (Chanting) I wanna go to Vietnam. I wanna kill a Vietcong- 
WILLARD (V.O.) I was going to the worst place in the world, and I didn't even know it yet. 
WILLARD (V.O.) Weeks away and hundreds of miles up river that snaked through the war like a circuit cable...plugged straight into Kurtz. 
He follows the escort across the fields as the platoon drills. 
WILLARD (V.O.) It was no accident that I got to be the caretaker of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz's memory, 
WILLARD (V.O.)
...any more that being back in Saigon was an accident.
WILLARD (V.O.)
There was no way to tell his story without telling my own. 
They approach a civilian-type luxury trailer. It is surrounded by concertina wire, and its windows have grenade protection, but it still seems out of place in this austere military base. 
CLOSER ON WILLARD He stands before the door for a moment, as the M.P.s guarding the trailer check his papers.
 
INT. TRAILER - DAY
WILLARD (V.O.)
And if his story is really a confession....
Cool and comfortable, furnished like home. Pictures on the walls, certificates, photos of Presidents Kennedy, Johnson and Nixon and other mementos decorating the room. A small table is covered with linen and place settings for three. 
Willard enters. 
He salutes, and the COLONEL salutes him back. 
WILLARD Captain Willard reporting, sir.
WILLARD (V.O.) then so is mine. 
COLONEL (to Willard) Captain. Good. Come on in. 
WILLARD Thank you, sir. 
COLONEL Stand at ease. 
Willard notices somebody O.S. and reacts. 
WILLARD General. 
The General crosses over to a cabinet and picks up a pack of cigarettes, as the CAMERA REVEALS a CIVILIAN; probably with the Department of Defense, sitting at the bar, and a GENERAL sitting on a sofa. The colonel turns and offers Willard a cigarette from the pack. 
COLONEL (to Willard) Do you want a cigarette? 
WILLARD No thank you, sir. 
COLONEL (indicating civilian) Captain, have you ever seen this gentleman before?
WILLARD No, sir.
COLONEL You ever met the general or myself?
WILLARD No, sir. Not personally. 
COLONEL You've worked a lot on your own, haven't you, Captain? 
WILLARD Yes, sir, I have. 
COLONEL Your report specifies intelligence, counter-intelligence with Com-Sec, I Corps. 
WILLARD I'm not presently disposed to discuss those operations, sir. 
There is a pause as the colonel lights his cigarette, 
then moves to the sofa.
He bends down and picks up a dossier, looks at it. 
COLONEL
Did you not work for the CIA in I Corps? 
WILLARD
(pause) No, sir. 
COLONEL
Did you not assassinate...
COLONEL
...a government tax collector...Quang Tri province June 18, 1968? 
Willard doesn't answer. 
COLONEL
Captain? 
WILLARD
Sir, I am unaware of any such activity or operation, 
WILLARD
...
nor would I be disposed to discuss an operation, if it did in fact exist, sir. 
A pause. 
Willard is tired and confused and hung over, but he is handling himself well. 
The general rises. 
GENERAL
I thought we'd have a bit of lunch while we talked. 
GENERAL
I hope you brought a good appetite, Captain. 
Willard gets up and moves towards the dining table with the general and the civilian. 
They sit down. 
GENERAL
I noticed that you have a bad hand there. Are you wounded?
WILLARD
Had a little fishing accident on R and R, sir. 
GENERAL
Fishing on R and R? 
WILLARD
Yes, sir. 
GENERAL
But you're feeling fit? You're ready for duty? 
WILLARD
Yes, General. Very much so, sir. 
The food is being passed around. 
GENERAL
Well, let's see...
GENERAL
...
what we have here. Roast beef, and usually it's not bad. 
GENERAL
(to civilian) Try some, Jerry. Pass it around. 
GENERAL
To save a little time, we might pass both ways. (to Willard) 
GENERAL
Captain, I don't know how you feel about this shrimp, but if you eat it, you'll never have...
GENERAL
...to prove your courage in any other way. 
GENERAL
Well, why don't I just take a piece here...

The colonel, who is not eating with them, walks to the table, holding a small photo. 
COLONEL
(to Willard) Captain, you've heard of...
COLONEL
...
Captain Colonel Walter E. Kurtz? 
He shows the photo to Willard. 
INSERT THE PHOTO It's an eight-by-ten black-and-white portrait of an army officer wearing a beret. 
WILLARD
Um...
WILLARD
Yes, sir. I've heard the name. 
The Colonel accidentally drops the dossier. Papers, photos, etc., scatter all over the floor. 
He stoops down to pick them up. 
COLONEL Jesus...
COLONEL
Operations officer, Fifth Special Forces. 
GENERAL
Luke, would you play that tape, for the captain, please?
COLONEL
Yes sir. I'm sorry, sir.
GENERAL (to Willard) Listen to it carefully, Captain. 
The Colonel moves to a tape recorder and turns it on. 
MALE VOICE (ON TAPE) (V.O.) "October 9, 04:30 hours, Sector Peter, Victor, King." 
GENERAL
These were monitored out of Cambodia. 
GENERAL
It's been verified as Colonel Kurtz's voice. 
All the men, including Willard, listen in wonder. 
KURTZ (ON TAPE) (V.O.) "I watched...
KURTZ (ON TAPE) ...
a small snail, crawling on the edge 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
of a straight razor. 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
That's my dream. 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
It's my nightmare. 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
Crawling, slithering, 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
along the edge of 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
a straight razor, 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
and surviving." 
MALE VOICE (ON TAPE) (V.O.)
"Transmission 11, received '68, December 30, 05:00 hours, Sector King, Zulu, King". 
KURTZ (ON TAPE) (V.O.) "But we must kill them. We must incinerate...
KURTZ (ON TAPE) ...
them. Pig after pig. 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
Cow after cow. 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
Village after village. Army after army. 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
And they call me an assassin. What do you call it, when the assassins accuse the assassin? 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
They lie. They lie...
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
...and we have to be merciful, for those who lie. 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
Those nabobs. 
KURTZ (ON TAPE)
I hate them. I really do hate them." 
The TAPE is TURNED OFF. 
GENERAL
Walter Kurtz was one of the most outstanding officers this 
GENERAL
...
country's ever produced. 
GENERAL
He was brilliant. He was outstanding in every way. And he was a good man, too. 
GENERAL
A humanitarian man. A man of wit and humor. 
GENERAL
He joined the Special Forces, 
GENERAL
and after that, his ideas, methods, became...
GENERAL
...
unsound. 
GENERAL
Unsound. 
COLONEL
Now he's crossed into Cambodia with this...
COLONEL
...Montagnard army of his, that worship the man like a god, and... 
COLONEL
...follow him every order, 
COLONEL
however ridiculous. 
GENERAL
Well, I have some other shocking news to tell you. 
GENERAL
Colonel Kurtz was about to be arrested for murder. 
WILLARD
I don't follow sir. Murdered who? 
COLONEL
Kurtz had ordered the execution...
COLONEL
...of some Vietnamese intelligence agents. 
COLONEL
Men he believed were double agents. 
COLONEL
So he took matters... 
COLONEL
...into his own hands. 
GENERAL
Well, 
GENERAL
...you see, Willard, in this war, things get confused out there. 
GENERAL
Power, ideals, 
GENERAL
the old morality, and...
GENERAL
...practical military necessity. But out there with these natives, it must be a temptation to... 
GENERAL
...be God. 
GENERAL
Because there's a conflict in every human heart. 
GENERAL
Between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. 
GENERAL
And good does not always triumph. 
GENERAL
Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature. 
GENERAL
Every man has got a breaking point. 
GENERAL
You have and I have them. 
GENERAL
Walter Kurtz has reached his. 
GENERAL
And, very obviously, he has gone insane. 
Willard looks from the colonel to the general to the civilian. 
They are intensely interested in his response, 
which they want to be "yes." 
WILLARD
(carefully) Yes, sir. Very much so, sir. Obviously insane. 
The three men pull back, satisfied. 
COLONEL
Your mission is to proceed up the Nung...
COLONEL
...River in a navy patrol boat, 
(clears throat)
COLONEL
pick up Colonel Kurtz's path at Nu Mung Ba, 
COLONEL
follow it, learn what you can along the way. When you find
COLONEL
the colonel, infiltrate his team by... 
clears throat)
COLONEL
...whatever means available, and...
COLONEL
...terminate the colonel's command. 
WILLARD
(to General) Terminate...the colonel? 
GENERAL
He's out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable...
GENERAL
...human conduct. And he is still on the field commanding troops. 
CIVILIAN
Terminate with extreme prejudice. 
The civilian hands Willard a cigarette, and lights it for him. 
COLONEL
You understand, Captain, that this mission does not exist,
COLONEL ...
nor will it ever exist. 
CLOSE ON WILLARD Smoking the cigarette, thinking about the mission.
 
 
Words by John Milius, Francis Ford Coppola, and Michael Herr (and G.D. Spradlin)
 
 
Apocalypse Now is available on DVD and Blu-Ray from Paramount Home Entertainment.