Rob The Mob Review

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Director: Raymond De Felitta

Starring: Michael Pitt, Nina Arianda, Andy Garcia, Ray Romano

Running Time:  104 Minutes

Synopsis: A Queens couple decide to rob Mafia social clubs and stumble upon some rather valuable information. The couple soon become targets of both the mob and the FBI.

Raymond De Felitta brings to life the true story of Tommy and Rosemarie Uva that offers an animated, yet compassionate treatment of the Queens couple as we follow their get-rich-quick scheme of targeting Mafia social clubs.

Set in New York City in 1991, during the heightened media attention surrounding the John Gotti trial, small-time crooks Tommy (Michael Pitt) and Rosie (Nina Arianda) Uva are stuck in a financial slump. Tommy quickly thinks of a plan to rob Mafia social clubs, although his reasoning is personal. Armed with an Uzi he can barely handle and far from well thought out plan the couple rob several Mafia social clubs, and garner a Bonnie and Clyde reputation thanks to friendly journalist Jerry Cardozo (Ray Romano).

The couple soon stumble upon a secret yet valuable piece of information. Believing they hold a golden ticket, Tommy and Rosie use the find as a bargaining chip entering into a mob contract to secure their safety. Big Al (Andy Garcia) has other ideas and instructs his men to track the couple down. However, the Feds are on the trail wanting to use the information to dismantle New York’s already-faltering crime syndicate once and for all. For Tommy and Rosie, caught between the law and a mob contract, the future depends on who gets to them first.

The film as a whole is enjoyable, with the nuances of humour and drama which builds during the films progression. ROB THE MOB introduces a refreshing take on traditional mafia movies, with a story that follows two characters which are hard to identify. Are Tommy and Rosemarie heroes, victims, or masters of their own demise? Either way you can’t deny the infectious like-ability of the two, which is hard to believe. Felitta certainly has a talent in making the audience fall in love with depraved characters that would normally only be thought of as secondary in Mafia films.

Michael Pitt and Nina Arianda fill the roles of Tommy and Rosemarie; both have an unwavering chemistry and are joyous to watch. Nina Arianda is a clear standout star, with her strong Jersey accent and ditzy yet loveable persona. Pitt and Arianda were perfect casting choices and there chemistry on screen oozes an intensity that’s consumed by both adoration and sadness. Felitta masterfully illustrates the couple’s romance as a primary emotion that overtakes fear. Their criminal exploits garner a humanist drama that is steeped in gushing romanticism, yet not so much that it poses too much of a distraction.

The film does portray an interesting and alternative view of the organised crime group. In many classics the mafia are gratuitous, violent and led by a strong ‘moral’ code. ROB THE MOB presents the mobsters as a bunch of ageing and overweight men that exhibit as much danger as a box of kittens. The film detracts from violence being a prominent visual focus, and instead uses the fear of violence to drive the film intensity and overwhelming danger Tommy and Rosemarie put themselves in.

ROB THE MOB reveals a human sentimentality between its two leading characters, Tommy and Rosemarie. The chemistry between the couple offers not an overly sentimental tale, but one that places risk and danger as a secondary thought. The couple’s actions are thoughtless and absurd, which is perfectly illustrated during the robbery scenes. The subtle humour ushers a light heartedness to the film and introduces a refreshing perspective of a mafia inspired crime drama.

Graced with an amazing cast, good humour and a nostalgic view of the seamy New York underworld, ROB THE MOB is great entertainment and a must-watch!

(4 / 5) ROB THE MOB is available now in the UK on digital and on-demand platforms that include iTunes, Blinkbox, Film4 OD, Amazon Prime, SKY movies, and FilmFlex.

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Omar Review

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Director: Hany Abu-Assad.

Starring: Adam Bakri, Leem Lubany, Waleed Zuaiter, Samer Bisharat, Iyad Hoorani.

Running Time: 96 minutes.

Certificate: 15.

Synopsis: A Palestinian freedom fighter is forced to become an informant for the Israeli military, putting his relationship with his two oldest friends and the woman he plans to marry at risk.

OMAR, Hany Abu-Assad’s second Oscar-nominated feature, is a complementary piece to his 2005 film, PARADISE NOW. Hany introduces us to a world consumed by loyalty, deceit and betrayal, the Oscar-nominated film masterfully illustrating the daily struggles of life in the West Bank, all whilst depicting the harsh reality of Israeli occupation and the resistance to it. The Palestinian-born director delivers an exaggerated expression of what is an unfortunate reality.

The film tells the story of Omar (Adam Bakri) and his close friends Tarek (Iyad Hoorani) and Amjad (Samer Bisharat) who are militants affiliated with the Aksa Martyrs Brigade. They plan to show their loyalty by arranging to shoot an Israeli soldier. Of course the event – which was intended as an initiation into manhood – leads to a series of tragic events that mostly impact Omar. He is arrested, imprisoned, interrogated and beaten. Omar is then faced with a choice by Rami (Waleed Zuaiter), the Israeli officer handling his case, to either become an informant or spend the rest of his life in prison. Grasping at his opportunity for freedom, suspicion and betrayal soon jeopardise his relationships with girlfriend Nadia (Leem Lubany) and accomplices and childhood friends Amjad and Tarek, Nadia’s militant brother.

To read the full review click the link http://www.thehollywoodnews.com/2014/05/15/omar-review/

Vietnam and the Disenchantment with America’s Victory Culture

Short extract from my first MA dissertation:

Undoubtedly the Vietnam War was an intensely controversial conflict. Before Vietnam, the war film had been constructed to evoke a justification and encouragement for America’s war effort. As James William Gibson suggests, ‘making war movies and Westerns was politically safe, a sign of alignment with Cold War politics.’ (1989: 18) He goes on to explain that, ‘War movies and Westerns presented a highly coherent view of American war (with rare exceptions) that encompassed the Western wars against the Indians and the foreign battles of the Second World War.’ (1989: 18) Films encompassed an image of America’s historical past, often representing the heroic and victorious nature of America’s endeavours.

Gibson discusses some of the typical conventions that were associated with the war film. These typical genre conventions can be seen in various war movies such as; Between Heaven and Hell (1956) and The Longest Day (1962). The most common draws attention to the United States always fighting for an honourably cause. This highlights a second point in that because of their good natured intentions they are presented as victorious, they ‘win almost all battles and always win the war.’ (1989: 18). Another characteristic to the genre is that ‘war movies portray war as a crucial ritual transition from male adolescence into manhood.’ (1989: 18) This glorified outlook of war is seen as a rite of passage, which in terms of the Vietnam War is highly debatable. Gibson further explains that this offers a representation that those who fight for a cause and are victorious are highly respected for their courageous efforts. The war teaches lessons that can’t be learnt elsewhere. These glorified representations of war fuelled the mythology which justified America’s moral superiority and invincibility, prompting an idealised self-image. Gibson goes on to explain that these mythic inventions held significance in supporting America’s victory culture. He describes that America’s victories encouraged a belief in these myths. David L. Anderson explains how the Second World War had encouraged cultural myth. He discusses how the victory of the war enlightened America with a sense of righteousness. ‘The cultural myth of American exceptionalism, of the goodness of America vanquishing the evils of autocracy, dictatorship, and militarism, seemed to have been realized.’ (2002: 20)

The term myth is best described by John Hellman as, ‘the stories containing a people’s image of themselves in history. Extreme simplifications, myths may always be debunked as falsifications of reality.’ (1986: ix) He then goes on to explain ‘myths may often distort or conceal, but these stories are nevertheless always true in the sense that they express deeply held beliefs.’ (1986: ix) Vietnam challenged and posed a threat to the invincible persona America had created through its visions of itself, not only in film but also literature and other mediums. ‘As American commitment to Vietnam intensified, Hollywood grappled with how to produce war films… producers shied away from triumphant portrayals of heroic Americans and brutal Communist Vietnamese.’ (Robert D. Schulzinger, 2006: 154) The very foundations of the war genre were questioned by the ramifications of America’s involvement in the Vietnam conflict.

‘War films are at a peak during periods of war and express nationalist confidence.’ (Maurice Yacowar, 1997: 271) To depict America as the heroes in a disastrous war was inappropriate. However ‘The politics of Vietnam did not find expression in war films, because the climate of opinion about the war was so widely and deeply divided in America; but it did emerge in the cycles of amoral cop and spy thrillers, with their ambiguous myths of militant police action on the local or international scale.’ (Maurice Yacowar, 1997: 271) As Yacowar explains, the divided opinion over Vietnam made it difficult to establish war films based on the usual generic conventions. Stephen Neale draws on Tom Engelhardt to explain the challenges associated with the loss of the war, he explains, ‘defeat and withdrawal from Vietnam in the early 1970s challenged the tenets of America’s ‘victory culture’ (Engelhardt 1995), ensured that its participation in the war remained deeply controversial, posed questions as to how the war could or should be represented, and rendered the paradigms associated with the Second World War combat film at least temporarily inappropriate.’ (2000: 123)

Many of the films released soon after the war focused on the American experience, whether it was the returning veteran or the tortured soldier. The traditional conventions of the war film could not be attributed to a war which had challenged these generic principles, with the exception of The Green Berets (1968), which during the war aimed at offering support toward America’s responsibility in Vietnam. Film faced a conflict in the way Vietnam should be represented, ‘for the movie industry Vietnam had been a trauma… any project bearing even a vague resemblance to The Green Berets was out of the question.’ (Gilbert Adair, 1989: 78) Ronald L. Davis cites Renata Adler’s New York Times review in which she described the film as “so rotten and false in every detail that it passes through being fun…and becomes an invitation to grieve, not for our soldiers or for Vietnam… but for what has happened to the fantasy-making apparatus in this country.” (Adler as cited by Davis, 2001: 281) Films concerning the war were not valued if they conformed to glorifying America’s role in the conflict. ‘It is in films that the important work is going to be done of forcing the facts of the Vietnam War into the mold of national myth and reconciling the country to its first defeat in war. So far, the broadest generalization about the Vietnam movies is that they show how trapped the country is in the perceptions of World War II. We liked that war and are reluctant to surrender the sense of unity and righteousness it bought.’ (Leo Cawley, 1990: 70)

‘To portray and then to erase the negative images of the Vietnam War for a wounded generation of Americans, Hollywood employed the Western genre as surrogate to show the trauma and heal the wounds of an American generation.’ (William L. Hewitt, 2009: 266) William L. Hewitt explains that ‘the hardened conventions and themes of the Western genre were examined, criticized, dismantled, and refined in the late 1960s and 1970s. The conventional Western’s traditional thematic myth of whites attacked by Indians, or seeking revenge against Indians became outmoded.’ (2009: 266) The Western was an explicitly political reflection to the sentiments attached to the Vietnam conflict. As Linnie Blake explains, ‘Little Big Man undertakes a fundamental reassessment of the ideology of the classic Western and indicts it as a distortion of America’s historic past (and contemporary establishment self-image) that has not only covered up the nation’s genocidal origins but has made national heroes out of murderers.’ (2005: 217) The Western confronted and challenged American myth. The myths which fabricated elements of America’s historical past were questioned; this was respondent to the dominant opinions held over the issue of the Vietnam War. ‘Eschewing the myth-making rhetoric of the best-loved traditional westerns, only confirmed that Hollywood’s chronic tendency to mythologize virtually everything it touched had rendered it incapable of dealing conceptually with major historical currents.’ (Gilbert Adair, 1989: 95) Vietnam challenged American myth, confronting the issue of the conflict seemed to be making an impression. The transformations of the Western were reflective of the conflict and the sentiment that was attached to it. The war genre faced the same issue in that the conventions which supported cultural myth in America were questioned by the events of the Vietnam War.

Robert J. McKeever explains that although the Vietnam War posed a challenge to the war genre it was only temporary. The impression of the war was ‘neither as profound nor as enduring as most writers on the subject have suggested’. (1989: 43). McKeever’s essay entitled American Myths and the Impact of the Vietnam War, argues that the Vietnam War was a temporary disaster; he uses the example of the male action hero in understanding how the impact of the war was short lived, as film soon reinvented history to sustain American myth. ‘To change national myths is not simply a question of reinterpreting history but rather amounts to a demand that the nation do no less than reinvent itself, in terms of values, culture and behaviour as well as in terms of history… the time soon came when Vietnam, rather than the national myths, had to be reinvented.’ (1989: 44) It seems that McKeever’s argument is more concerned with the issue of America coping with defeat and sustaining mythic beliefs and values, rather than confronting the issue of the Vietnam War and how this exposed the flaws in America’s mythic confidence.

Robert J. McKeever discusses how Hollywood re-established the American myth through the image of the male hero; he discusses Rambo in particular to support his idea. ‘most interesting about Rambo is not simply that the hero has been recuperated to the point where he can function and be morally affirmed within a recent and painful historical context, but that he is, moreover, a hero of the traditional kind’. (1989: 53) However, McKeever does argue that Vietnam had resulted in certain changes in the way the hero is portrayed, ‘where the Vietnam experience has wrought changes in the myths that it challenged, the result has been a mythic hero who resolves contradictions between extreme violence and morality in a more effective way than any hero before him.’ (1989: 54) Overall McKeever’s argument is based mainly on the impact of defeat and how this effect is short lived by reinterpreting the war. This rewriting of America’s Vietnam defeat and the renewed image of the male hero is argued by McKeever to re-instil the value of the American myth. In doing so he concludes that the impact of Vietnam was not as detrimental as it was once thought.

However, after the regeneration of male heroes seen in Sylvester Stallone and Chuck Norris, the arrival of Platoon soon reignited the memory of America’s failed war. The Vietnam conflict was still very much a sustaining attribute in reminding America of its failure. Katrina Porteous argues that Platoon ‘offers a far more ‘realistic’ account of the American experience of Vietnam than the sweeping metaphors of The Deer Hunter and Apocalypse Now, or the idiocies of Rambo: First Blood Part II.’ (1989: 153) The suggestion that Platoon is ‘realistic’ is debatable, Platoon is credited for being a more realistic interpretation of life in Vietnam, and this is mainly due to Oliver Stone being a veteran of the war. That is not to say that Stone’s film alone depicts an accurate account of his Vietnam experience. Porteous further argues that the films realism was sometimes overshadowed by convention. ‘The traditional images of the movies and literature of past wars which Platoon restates- that war is madness and nightmare, the army a machine… were commonly invoked by American soldiers in Vietnam, not only because, as conventions, they were readily available, but also because they were rooted in the particular realities of the conflict.’ (1989:154-5) she then goes on to say that ‘American incompetence and brutality, is equally ambiguous: these too are conventions, though, unlike those of madness, nightmare and irrationality, they are specific to depictions of Vietnam.’ (1989:155) Overall Porteous explains that although Platoon pays attention to the realistic depiction of America’s Vietnam experience, it distances itself from illustrating any historical insight. ‘A preoccupation with the journey from innocence to experience gives the film an undoubted authenticity, echoing as it does so many veterans’ accounts. Yet at the same time it seriously compromises the claim that the film tells the ‘truth’’ (1989:158). Overall Porteous suggests that while Platoon is to a degree realistic in depicting the experience of life in combat, it ignores the issue that is Vietnam, which she concludes as saying disguises any historical truth.

Cinema: The Ideal & Reality

Psychoanalysis is of relative importance to film theory, as ‘the cinema engages processes of the unconscious more than any other artistic medium’. (Robert Stam, Robert Burgoyne and Sandy F. Lewis, 1992: 139) Christian Metz explains ‘certain phenomena that psychoanalysis has illuminated or can illuminate occur in the cinema’ (1986: 22). The main question is to what extent does the audience create or understand the meaning behind film? ‘Films themselves only come into being through the fictive work of their spectators… The films images and sounds are not meaningful without the (unconscious) work of the spectator’ (Stam, Burgoyne and Lewis, 1992: 139) Film relies on the audience to create meaning.

Christian Metz has applied psychoanalytic thought to film and spectator theory. He undertook psychoanalysis to understand why we find the cinematic experience so pleasurable. Using Lacan’s theory of the mirror stage he identified the screen as a mirror in which spectators are positioned in the imaginary, where there is a momentary identification. Metz application of childhood development to the theory of spectatorship attempts to understand the pleasure gained from the cinematic experience and why we repeatedly choose to position ourselves as spectators. He defines the cinema theatre as a location where we fulfil our desire to return to the ‘imaginary’ stage. ‘…the subject will attempt to recapture itself as a unified being, the idealised image of the imaginary.’ (Susan Hayward, 2006: 355)

The development of identification is a moment we become aware of ourselves, our identification with the characters onscreen is part of the process of the cinema experience. It’s through the identification of characters that we are able to fulfil wishful desires through them. ‘…the fascination of the cinematic image itself derives from its play of presence and absence- we know that the events and figures we watch on the screen are not really there, yet we believe we grasp them as though in some way they were more real than life.’ (Christine Gledhill, 2007: 353) In other words we become so involved in the fantasy of cinema that we confuse the reality with the fictive production that illustrates unconscious desires that can’t be satisfied in our daily lives.

There are two elements identified within Metz’s theory, the process of identification and desire. We empathize with the characters on screen, but also we have a desire to understand and look at the person being represented. For example, the first image introduced in the Coen brother’s remake of True Grit is that of Mattie’s father. This first image is as though we are reliving a memory of Mattie’s, an image of her father. Throughout the film we are only exposed to the image of the death of Mattie’s father. The audience immediately sympathise with Mattie and share her desire in finding justice. The plot of the film interlinks the spectator’s desire with their identification with the main character.

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The story follows Mattie Ross (Hailee Steinfeld) on a journey to catch her father’s killer Tom Chaney (Josh Brolin), with the help of Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) a Deputy US Marshal and LaBoeuf (Matt Damon) a Texas Ranger.

Elements of identification help in examining the relationship between the spectator and the film. Within this process the audience engages with the narrative being played out onscreen sharing the desire of the protagonist. The narrative progression fulfils our wishful desire, for example the audience are never shown an image of Mattie’s father apart from a still image of his death. The introduction of Rooster Cogburn (Jeff Bridges) provides a new patriarchal figure for Mattie, who eventually fills the absence of her father.

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As the narrative progresses the relationship between the two characters becomes more personal. This is highlighted during the final scenes of the film; a shot of Cogburn’s coffin is shown and resembles the same shot at the start of the film of Mattie father’s coffin. The filmmakers have shown an implicit connection to the role Cogburn played to a young Mattie.

The relationship between Mattie and Cogburn is not reliant on the unconscious of its spectators as it implicitly shows connections between the two characters. ‘The cinema is attended out of desire, not reluctance, in the hope that the film will please, not that it will displease.’ (Metz, 1975: 19)

On the other hand, we know on a conscious level that film is not real but the conditions in which we view film for example the darkened theatre heightens our senses and makes us more receptive to the images we are shown, this is relative to the point that watching film is like the act of dreaming. ‘Certain conditions make film viewing similar to dreaming: we are in a darkened room, our motor activity is reduced, our visual perception is heightened to compensate for our lack of physical movement’ (Stam, Burgoyne and Lewis, 1992: 143). Because of this resemblance to a dream state we are accepting the image on screen being an impression of reality which is referred to as the fiction effect, ‘because this impression of reality is intensified by the conditions of the dream.’ (Stam, Burgoyne and Lewis, 1992: 144). The psychoanalytic understanding of the dream state is that our unconscious becomes more active according to Freud.

The fiction effect is what drives the spectator in feeling that they are responsible for the production of the cinematic fiction. A spectator essentially takes authorship of the production. Cogburn and Mattie’s relationship is never explicitly discussed throughout the film; the spectator is left to their thoughts to define their own meaning of the text.

Although the narrative instigates a viewer’s desire for the protagonist to succeed, other elements within the film draw on repressed emotions. Conforming to the traditional Western, True Grit is a story focused on vengeance rather than justice, could unconscious desires be the driving force toward our enjoyment of film? Freud believed the mind to be split into three sections consisting of the id, ego and superego. The id is completely unconscious and obeys the pleasure principle. The id is submerged in our unconscious and the ego stops us from acting on these urges. The use of violence is shocking because we know on a conscious level that violence is bad. However we could seek pleasure from violence on an unconscious level. Does film indicate some unconscious desires that we enjoy when played out in the fantasy of film?

For instance, particular elements of film incur an emotional response; the uses of violence in some scenes evoke horror and shock. Although during specific moments we tolerate horrific acts of violence as part of the fantasy, almost seeking a secretive pleasure from it. Part of the fantasy is eliciting an emotional response. For example, during the beginning of the film we see three men being hanged, this shocks the audience, however when Mattie finally comes face to face with Chaney and shoots him we feel a sense of satisfaction and don’t contemplate the seriousness of a 14 year old shooting a man, we identify with Mattie’s cause of seeking justice. Again film allows the role of fantasy to play out situations that cannot be carried out in reality.

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Feminist film theory

An aspect worth consideration is the nature of the gaze. A feminist perspective is a relevant theory to explore when understanding the character of Mattie, a 14 year old girl. Laura Mulvey’s essay Visual Pleasures in Narrative Cinema identified the relationship between the screen and spectator. Identifying the construct of cinema was a male one, and the representation of women was simply to be a visual pleasure, an object to be looked at. The female spectator is placed into a position where she accepts watching the film through the dominant male lead or the weak female. She speaks of breaking the patriarchal dominance of men in Hollywood by representing women more favourably.

Genre conventions of the Western typically associate the female role with vulnerability and dependency on men. Mattie’s character in the Coen brother’s version is a contrast to the Henry Hathaway adaptation, where Mattie was presented as a tomboy donning boyish features like short hair and boys clothing. The Coen brothers depict Mattie as feminine donning pigtails as well as portraying a strong intelligent young girl whose bravery during the film matches that of her male companions. However True Grit presents its protagonist as a young female, the male characters show weaknesses making Mattie a more dominant character.

Rooster Cogburn is shown as a drunk while LaBoeuf is shown to be arrogant and self-righteous. Mattie’s weakness is her age, however through the narratives progression we see that her weakness leads her into the passive female role, for example she is caught by Pepper and his men and she suffers a fall due to the kickback of the gun which consequently ends with a snake bite. Although Mattie is a strong female she succumbs to playing a passive role.

In conclusion feminist theory looks at the passive role portrayed by women in film and suggests that the spectator is already positioned as male, making female spectators succumb to the male gaze. While it can be argued that Mattie as the leading protagonist portrays a strong representation of women, genre convention results in her characters desire for happiness being dependent on men. We see Mattie as a grown woman looking for Cogburn whom abandoned her. However, Mattie does not fulfil the expectation of the Western genre as in the final scenes she discusses her choice not to marry. The issue of marriage in the Western was discussed by Mulvey in a later essay in which she discusses the ritual of marriage. ‘This neat narrative function restates the propensity for “woman” to signify “the erotic” already familiar from visual representation’. (Mulvey, 1990: 29)

Overall the study of spectatorship and our relationship with cinema is explanatory in the pleasure of fantasy playing out unconscious desires that cannot be fulfilled in real life. Cinema is an experience which we actively seek to escape from reality. Film gives an alternate reality in which fantasy fulfils our unconscious desires, whether it is instigated by our identification with images on screen or deep rooted unconscious emotions that are freed to be explored in the dream like creation of cinema. On the whole cinema is an escape which allows us to explore thoughts and emotions that otherwise would remain repressed in our unconscious. The film-text engages the viewer ‘in a complex of pleasure and meaning by mobilizing deep-rooted structures of fantasy, identification and vision, and it does this through interlocking systems of narrativity, continuity and point-of-view.’ (Stam, Burgoyne and Lewis, 1992: 142)

American Remakes of Foreign Films: A Threat to Foreign Culture?

Extract from my MA dissertation

ImageConstantine Verevis explains how film remakes are considered inferior in comparison to the original. He expresses this view by explaining, ‘the vast majority of critical accounts… understand remaking as a one-way process: a movement from authenticity to imitation, from the superior self-identity of the original to the debased resemblance of the copy.’ (2006: 58) Verevis here expresses the view that the remake is an imitation of authenticity, an inferior reproduction of a superior original. This raises the question, can any film be granted the credit of originality? Especially if the ‘original’ is based on a set of conventions, that are a normative practice in filmmaking. Despite this issue, any film granted the status of originality is recognised for its authenticity and creativity, and the remake is often disadvantaged by this status. Carolyn A. Durham describes this view in relation to Hollywood remakes of French films explaining that, ‘Hollywood remakes are condemned for their inferiority to- and thus, for their difference from- the French films on which they are modeled, they are simultaneously accused of not being different enough.’ (1998: 11) Durham highlights an unbalanced opinion over American remakes and their foreign originals. However, Durham raises another issue in the protective nature of a national cinemas representation of its national and cultural identity, which is overshadowed by the dominance of Hollywood. In essence a national cinema loses its distinctiveness as the remake conforms to the methods of Hollywood practices, it appropriates a foreign culture. Forrest and Koos explain, ‘cultural difference is the ultimate obstacle to the homogenizing culture of Hollywood.’ (2002: 7) Forrest and Koos suggest that Hollywood is unable to translate the uniqueness of their foreign originals; for example, they instead adapt the cultural differences making them universally recognised. They go on to suggest that the untranslatability of cultural elements damages the authenticity of the original and this is why there is a dislike toward American remakes of foreign films.

As well as the challenging differences in culture Forrest and Koos express the view that European film resembles a finer model to American films. They explain, ‘We are led to believe that European films adapt, readapt, cite, pay homage to, parody, but do not remake, the former activities being linked to artistic and literary traditions of high culture, the latter being representative of American films and their ties to commerce and commercial interests.’ (Forrest and Koos, 2002: 29) The dominance and commercial incentives which fuel Hollywood overshadows any artistic tendencies which prevail in its films, instead the lesser known European film industry strives to succeed in this role. Verevis offers an explanation for why European films are superior to American ones. He explains, foreign films are dispossessed of ‘local detail’ and ‘political content’ to exploit new (English-language) markets… remaking is not only evidence of Hollywood being an ‘aesthetic copy-cat’, but (worse) of ‘cultural imperialism’ and ‘terroristic marketing practices’ designed to block an original’s competition in the US market.’ (2006: 3) Verevis expresses the view that an original text loses its uniqueness as Hollywood takes advantage of foreign productions by debasing them of their identity in order to make them more accessible to an English speaking audience. He emphasises another point, in that the American remake is designed to maintain Hollywood’s global dominance by replacing the original with its own imitation, by doing so the richness of the original is lost.

The assumptions of the views that have been discussed point to Hollywood prioritising success over substance, debasing originals of their artistic and cultural specificity. Dominic Strinati explains, ‘surface and style… are said to predominate at the expense of content, substance and meaning.’ (2004: 207) Verevis’s thoughts indicate the belief that the original is valued more than any reproduction; he attacks the superficial elements which fuel Hollywood to remake foreign films.  As Strinati’s comment suggests, there is a belief that American films are more style than substance, this is supported by Forrest and Koos previously mentioned views. They explained that American remakes challenge the distinguishing cultural features of a foreign film, which results in an almost automatic dislike for the American production. Of course, this view is only relevant for an audience which shares a knowledge or awareness of the original. Verevis explains that viewers who have a limited knowledge or none at all of the original text ‘may understand a new version (a remake) through its reinscription of generic elements, taking the genre as a whole (rather than a particular example of it) as the film’s intertextual base.’ (2006: 146) This again refers to the issues previously discussed concerning the similar qualities shared between a remake and genre. His comments also outline the natural process of Hollywood films, driven by the familiar which Verevis describes as conventions of genre.

However, the above views share the assumption that foreign films purposely represent their national and cultural identity through their films, in order to differentiate and rival the dominance of Hollywood. Andrew Higson expresses this concern; ‘the concept of a national cinema has almost invariably been mobilised as a strategy of cultural (and economic) resistance; a means of asserting national autonomy in the face of (usually) Hollywood’s international dominance.’ (2002: 133) In other words national cinema evokes a sense of otherness to rival the domination of the American film industry. Jinhee Choi explains Benedict Anderson’s concept of a nation as an imagined community. ‘Anderson claims that a nation is an imagined community that provides its members with a sense of identity and belonging. Such an identity… is achieved through the consumption of the products of modern print culture.’ She continues to explain, ‘as national history unfolds in newspapers, literature, and the media against the backdrop of familiar settings and locales, readers acquire a sense of community marked by national boundaries as well as a sense of shared history and destiny.’ (2005: 312) She goes on to explain that Anderson’s views are relative to film, which can also evoke a sense of national identity within the viewer.

This is reminiscent of the view shared by Dominic Strinati, who explains, ‘popular culture signs and media images increasingly dominate our sense of reality, and the way we define ourselves and the world around us.’ (2004: 205) He goes on to note postmodern theory ‘is an attempt to understand a media-saturated society.’ (2004:206) Tim Woods briefly discusses Fredric Jameson’s view on postmodern culture. Jameson’s ‘terms are largely derived from his conviction that postmodern culture ushers in a new ‘depthlessness’, celebrating ‘surfaces’ in a denial of material history and an effacement of the historical past.’ (Tim Woods, 1991: 211) Firstly, Strinati’s comments express the view that we define ourselves and the world around us by our exposure to media images, yet Wood’s describes Jameson’s view that these images distort our sense of reality by manipulating and shaping our understanding of reality. Jean Baudrillard best expresses this view through what he terms hyperreality, which he defines as ‘a real without origin or reality’. (1994: 1) Choi explains that ‘if national identity as represented in film is fictional in a sense that it is constructed, it can still have causal influence on the viewer.’ (2005: 313) She goes on to explain that ‘the apparent authenticity of a culture represented on film may lead the viewer to imagine, however unwarrantedly, that he or she has been participating in unique cultural practices.’ (2005: 313) This representation of national and cultural identity is superficial.

Photography: Objective or Subjective

A short extract from an essay I wrote in 2012

Marita Sturken and Lisa Cartwright address the discussion of photography’s ability to be subjectivity and objectivity. They explain, ‘It is a paradox of photography that although we know that images can be ambiguous and are easily manipulated or altered… much of the power of photography still lies in the shared belief that photographs are objective or truthful records of events.’ (2002: 17) In other words Cartwright and Sturken explain that photographs can be manipulated through methods of framing and selection, yet there is still a belief that photos represent reality, an objective truth. Andre Bazin and Roland Barthes share the view that photographs are objective records of reality. Bazin focuses of the preservation of existence as does Barthes. However, Barthes also explains how we interpret images, through the use of studium and punctum. He assumes like Bazin that photos capture reality and are therefore used as records of evidence of existence.  

On the other hand the issue of photography being subjective is supported by Pierre Bourdieu and Walter Benjamin. Bourdieu believes that as Sturken and Cartwright suggest images involve some degree of subjective choice, whether it is by the photographer or the people in the photo. Bourdieu uses the example of the pose to dismiss Barthes and Bazin’s argument, by suggesting that the camera forces an unnatural pose, causing the person to present an idealised image of the self according to social codes of behaviour, and to illustrate a particular class. Bourdieu bases his argument on the fact that photography is used as a social practice. This in effect contradicts the argument that photos are objective.

Benjamin’s seminal essay The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction highlights two main issues concerning photography. Firstly, the power of photography and its ability to reproduce autographic images, that is to say photography can reproduce unique pieces of art. Secondly, he discusses how the camera represents reality. Benjamin emphasises that the reproducibility of a work of art causes the image to become meaningless, it lacks authenticity which means the original work loses its ‘aura’. The way the image is reproduced has a subjective value as it does not reflect the authenticity of the original image.

Sturken and Cartwright explain, ‘our awareness of the subjective nature of imaging is in constant tension with the legacy of objectivity that clings to the camera and machines that produce images today.’ (2002: 17) As has been discussed briefly, there is much debate amount theorists to suggest whether photography is an informative or expressive practice.

Andre Bazin expresses the view that photography is objective. Bazin explains that it is photography which captures reality without human intervention. ‘All the arts are based on the presence of man, only photography derives an advantage from his absence.’ (Bazin, 1960: 7) He bases this judgement of the process of photography being an automatic capture of a moment. Basically Bazin believes photography has an objective quality which encourages the view that photography captures a moment of reality. ‘No matter how skilful the painter… The fact that a human hand intervened cast a shadow of doubt over the image.’ (Bazin, 1960: 7) Bazin stresses the view that because photography is an automatic process it has a unique quality in capturing reality, unlike painting, which Bazin describes as merely an illusion.

Bazin goes on to describe that photos preserve a moment in time. ‘The photographic image is the object itself, the object freed from the conditions of time and space that govern it.’ (1960: 8) Photographs are these historical documents which cement to us the existence of the object or person depicted. Bazin refers to painting and sculpture earlier in the article as a way of trying to preserve our physical existence, which he calls the mummy complex. ‘The process might reveal that at the origin of painting and sculpture there lies a mummy complex.’ (1960: 4)

Bazin goes on to discuss the role of the photographer, he explains that the photographer has the advantage of selecting what is captured, however this does not interfere with the objectivity of the photo. As he explains, ‘the objective nature of photography confers on it a quality of credibility absent from all other picture-making.’ (1960: 7-8) As mentioned before the interference of the human hand shadows the realist quality, this is why photography is a superior form of capturing an objective truth. However, as will be discussed later, Walter Benjamin believes that photography and its power to reproduce images means images lose a sense of their authenticity. Benjamin uses the example of artwork as a way of signifying that it is a unique piece, but with it being produced so often these images lose a quality in that they can be interpreted in many ways, hence losing objectivity.

As the previous comment suggests photographers have the ability to frame and select what is captured, this is the subjective element which overshadows the understanding that photos can be honest depictions of events or people. ‘Every time we look at a photograph, we are aware, however slightly, of the photographer selecting that sight from an infinity of other possible sights.’ (John Berger, 1972: 2-3) The photographer’s choice of subject is a manipulation of the way we interpret images. However, John Berger goes on to explain that images ‘showed how something or somebody had once looked- and thus by implication how the subject had once been seen by other people.’(1972: 3) This in effect preserves the past, and is evidence of ‘the world which surrounded other people at other times.’ (1972:3). Berger supports Bazin’s view that photography preserves the past and is evidentiary proof of this. Berger also supports Barthes idea that photos are more than evidential proof, but they can affect us in profound ways. Barthes uses the image of his mother to illustrate this point, as will be discussed.

Roland Barthes explains that there are two elements within photography, and these are studium and punctum. The studium is part of our cultural understanding helping us to interpret meaning from an image. Graham Allen explains, ‘the studium… concerns the clear communication of cultural codes which lead, ultimately, to a signified or set of signifieds’. (2003: 127) Barthes describes the way in which he interprets images, ‘it is culturally that I participate in the figures, the faces, the gestures, the settings, the actions.’ (2003: 25) As suggested above the studium is based on our understanding of cultural codes which help us in identifying the meaning within an image.

The punctum is something harder to explain, an element of the image that prompts a reaction from us. Barthes explains, ‘it is not I who seek it out… it is an element which rises from the scene, shoots out of it like an arrow, and pierces me.’ (2003: 25) The punctum is reliant solely upon the viewer of the image; unlike the studium, the punctum is not coded. Barthes describes how an image can contain both studium and punctum, but explains that the punctum can disturb the studium.

Barthes explanation of the studium and punctum evokes a discussion in the way we view images. In regards to Sturken and Cartwright, Barthes supports the view that photos are objective by referring to photos as documents of ‘that-has-been’. The term ‘that-has-been’ describes photos as objective evidence of that which exists or did exist; they are objective recordings of physical facts. Barthes shares a similar view to Bazin that photos preserve a moment of time, a proof of existence.

Barthes uses the image of his mother as a way of instilling the value in photography. The Winter Garden photo does not feature in the book and that is because Barthes says the photo exists only for him. For anyone else to view the photo they would fail to understand what Barthes sees. He explains that it would be viewed as any other photo that features in Camera Lucida.

Overall Bazin and Barthes describe photos as a function to preserve memories.  Bazin uses photography against the act of painting and sculpture to exemplify photography as a representation of the real. This complements Barthes thoughts on photography having a profound impact upon the viewer, as is described by the terms studium and punctum.  Overall Bazin and Barthes share the view that photography is objective, as it captures a moment of reality and preserves the memory and experience as proof of its existence.

However, theorists such as Pierre Bourdieu and Walter Benjamin share a different view. They both support the view that photography is a subjective practice. Pierre Bourdieu uses the example of the pose to suggest that photographs fail to be objective.

Bourdieu explains that photos have an objective element in the way they reflect reality. However, he goes on to explain that photography is a social practice and so loses its objectivity in favour of the social function people play in photographs. Susan Sontag explains, ‘photographed images do not seem to be statements about the world so much as pieces of it, miniatures of reality that anyone can make or acquire.’ (2008: 4) Sontag explains that photographs can be limiting in the way they express the world. She describes photos as capturing a piece of it, a short moment of time which cannot adequately reflect the world which surrounds the photograph. This supports Bourdieu’s argument that the short moment captured by a photograph cannot be used as an objective artefact; he uses the example of the pose to explain this further.

Using the example of the pose he explains that ‘to strike a pose is to offer oneself to be captured in a posture which is not and which does not seek to be ‘natural’’ (1999: 166). In other words photos fail to be objective as there is an unconscious subjectivity which underlies the capture.

Bourdieu goes on to explain that, ‘the meaning of the pose adopted for the photograph can only be understood with relation to the symbolic system in which it has its place, and which, for the peasant, defines the behaviour and manners suitable for his relations with other people.’ (1999: 166) As was discussed previously Barthes explains how viewers search for meaning in images, this reiterates the point Bourdieu identifies, in that the images capture the manners and behaviours deemed appropriate. Photography is a social practice and with it social functions apply as is evident in the way people pose. Bourdieu strongly enforces the view that photography is a subjective practice as people in the photograph have an awareness of the cameras presence and so enforce a pose which is not natural; this diminishes any sense in a photograph being objective.

Overall Bourdieu contradicts the idea that photographs are objective; the pose suggests that there is reliance upon social function that influences the way photos are taken. Sturken and Cartwright identify that there are subjective choices which are made when taking a photograph. Bourdieu examines the pose as that subjective choice which damages any sense of objectivity. 

Hollywood’s Dominance

Image:(http://scripteach.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/01/Richard-Lund-hollywood-sign-at-night.jpg)

Undoubtedly Hollywood is a major player in the industry, but how has it become so? Michael Richardson reviews the issues of Hollywood cinema and outlines some interesting aspects as to how Hollywood has become a leading player in the industry.

Michael Richardson first discusses how Hollywood was established. He explains that the movie industry in America was first formed in California after World War one, the formulation of films released by Hollywood illustrated the life America had to offer. As Richardson puts it, ‘through the films of Hollywood people outside of the United States have come to identify themselves in a concrete way with the concept that is ‘America’.’ (2010: 1) In other words, the films produced by Hollywood indulged its foreign audience with the alluring myth of the lifestyle it had to offer. To a world audience this helped in endorsing the dream of life in the US. This introduction from Richardson outlines a critical point in that Hollywood established this cultural ideal to the world. 

Richardson goes on to discuss how Hollywood was set up predominantly by Jewish immigrants and that it was these immigrants that invented the myth of the American Dream, as Richardson explains, ‘Most of these who founded Hollywood were Jewish, generally second- generation immigrants from Eastern Europe. Hollywood cinema is this paradoxical, as paradoxical as the concept of America itself.’ (2010: 3) In essence Richardson suggests that it was the Jewish moguls who invented the myth of the American lifestyle that inspires other communities around the world of the life they desire. The desire of life in America is apparent from the many people who travelled there in search of a new life, as Richardson explains, ‘many of the greatest figures in Hollywood history have been European immigrants or film makers lured from Europe by Hollywood glamour and prestige or by political pressures at home, especially in the crucial decade before the Second World War when realities in Europe forced many people in the industry to seek work elsewhere.’ (2010: 3)

The events of World War I had significantly damaged the progress of European cinema, yet helped sustain a progressive success of Hollywood films, Edward Buscombe explains, ‘Foreign markets have always been important to Hollywood, at least since World War I when the US film industry capitalized on the weakness of European cinema to edge French, Scandinavian, German and British films out of the markets they had previously enjoyed.’ (2003: 28) The weakness of the European market led an opportunity for Hollywood to succeed. Tino Balio shares a similar view as he explains, ‘foreign revenues regularly generated about one-third of Hollywood’s total income until World War II cut off most European… markets, but afterwards, Hollywood set about recapturing lost territories by releasing the tremendous backlog of pictures it had produced during the war.’ (2007: 49) Although wars distracted from reaching the wider market Hollywood was still able to regain success from a financial standpoint. This raises another important point in the economic dominance Hollywood holds.

Overall from this brief overview of how Hollywood has claimed its dominance it is clear that Hollywood’s authority has been inspired by the creation of myth, the American Dream is a trait in many American movies that interests the global audience who believe in the desire of living in America, as it promises a lifestyle stylised by the movies. Also another way in which Hollywood has encouraged its success is through seeking opportunities to reach a global market. Whilst other countries struggled to regain a sense of normality as a result of the war, Hollywood was able to benefit financially. The economic strength of the America film industry is thankful to the success within global markets, as outlined above the international market is where America receives a substantial amount of its income. All these factors contribute to the overpowering strength of America’s film industry.

 

Balio, T. (2007). Postwar globalisation. In: Cook, P The Cinema Book. 3rd ed. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Buscombe, E (2003). Cinema Today. London: Phaidon Press Limited.

Richardson, M (2010). Otherness in Hollywood Cinema. New York: Continuum International Publishing Group.

 

An Analysis of Apocalypse Now

This a short edited extract from my Masters dissertation.



Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now follows Captain Willard’s (Martin Sheen) journey, up the Nung River, on a mission to kill Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). The film is an inventive interpretation of America’s Vietnam experience; Tom Engelhardt explains the film portrayed ‘the war largely as an insular struggle for the American soul.’ (2007: 277). As explained by Engelhardt, Vietnam offered America a sense of victimhood (2007: 274). This victimised outlook of the war conjured up an image of the victim hero; Willard represents the tortured soldier, a common trait in many Vietnam War films such as; Travis Bickle in Taxi Driver (1976) and Rambo in First Blood (1982).

The film is not concerned with detailing a realistic and historically accurate expression of the war; it delves into the surreal and mythic landscape of American culture and the darkness of war. John Hellmann explains that, ‘Coppola uses the hardboiled detective formula to transform the river journey of Heart of Darkness into an investigation of both American society (represented by the army) and American mythos (represented by Colonel Kurtz [Marlon Brando]).’ (1986: 190) Hellmann outlines that the narrative illustrates the surreal reflection of the decadence of American society, which forces Willard to search for the ideal, ‘Kurtz represents that mythic ideal and finally the horrific self-awareness of its hollowness.’ (1986: 190) The film shows the impact not only on American soldiers but also the values of American society.

The following details a few scenes to explore the thematic concerns of Coppola’s film. The key aspects are; the trauma experienced through the victim hero, the futility of American values and the unrestrained force of the American military.

THE VICTIM HERO

The opening shot of the napalm airstrike clouded in yellow smoke illustrates the confusion and destruction of the conflict. The dissolve to reveal a close up of Willard face feeds the impression we are viewing a memory, the dreamy effect of the dissolve continues while panning around the room. ‘The film begins, as does Dante’s Inferno, with the protagonist alone, in midlife, having lost his moral and spiritual compass and undergoing a tortured, agonizing dark night of the soul.’ (Donald M. Whaley, 2010: 7) Shrouded in darkness the hotel room acts like a prison, the only glimmer of light seeps through the blinds. The shot which sees Willard looking out through the blinds reveals the normality of life Willard is unable to return to, he is a victim of his experience. The shadows of the blind on Willard’s face reiterate the image that he is locked away from civilised society. Unable to conform to civilised society Willard explains; “When I was here I wanted to be there. When I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle.”

The illusion of the heroic soldier is shattered in the first few moments of meeting Willard. Hellmann explains, ‘Willard is a portrait of the traumatic fall the American self-concept has experienced in Vietnam.’ (1986: 191) this is further exacerbated by the next part of the scene which sees Willard descend into a drunken madness; alcohol is his form of escapism from the trauma of his Vietnam experience. As Hellmann explains, ‘representing the contemporary American ideal experiencing traumatic self-doubt, goes on a mission through the mean streets of American culture and his own soul to confront the original American mythos’ (1986: 193). The extent of this damaged self-image is reflective of the drunken moments of the scene which sees Willard punch a mirror after seeing his own image.

The scene climaxes to reveal Willard crying out. This shows his characters vulnerability, Willard sits on the floor of the hotel room defenceless and broken. Gibson explains, ‘most combat soldiers quickly learned the difference between war-movie fantasy and real war’ (1989: 19) He goes on to quote an unnamed American soldier ‘I felt sorry. I don’t know why I felt sorry. John Wayne never felt sorry.’ (1989: 19) Wayne represented a strong patriotic vision of the idealised American hero; Vietnam shattered the value of these mythic constructs. Willard is the victim hero; he is the complete opposite of John Wayne. Willard is representative of the struggle to support the disillusionment of American myth.

THE FUTILITY OF AMERICAN VALUES

Hellmann explains that, ‘Apocalypse Now is full of allusions to Southern California… centering on the surfing, rock music, go-go dancing, and drug-taking associated with the west-coast culture of the time.’ (1986: 190) The scene which best depicts these cultural values is when Willard and his crew arrive at a military base, where preparations are made for the playmates to perform. The scene depicts the absurdity and meaninglessness of American values in the midst of the jungle, and the contrast between the American soldiers and the Vietnamese.

The start of the scene sees Willard and his crew approach the supply post which is doused in floodlights, bemused by the setting, Clean (Laurence Fishburne) explains, “This sure is a bizarre sight in middle of this shit.”  As the crew leaves the boat, Clean comes across bikes and expresses his excitement. This in effect shows not only the displaced priorities of the American soldiers, but the unnecessary expense that went into the war. This supports Buscombe’s comments on the films representation of the war effort as a wasteful expense. There is no logical understanding of the landscape the American’s are fighting in, which is shown through the wasted expense on the unnecessary equipment provided to the soldiers.

The scene moves on following Clean as he asks for fuel, to which he is ignored by the Sergeant. The shallowness in the importance placed by the Sergeant is shown when Chef asks for drugs, the Sergeant leans in with interest. Rather than fulfil his role in providing troops with essential items he is absorbed by the needless requests asked of him. As Hellmann outlines the film, particularly in this scene parallels the west-coast culture of the time, this shows that rather than adapt to the difficult environment, the soldiers are more interested in the familiarities of home. The effect of these empty values is shown through Willard’s character, as he shows his disgust to the values that mean nothing in the midst of war. In effect Willard’s anger is directed to the Sergeant, as his anger builds he grabs hold of the Sergeant.

Whilst the bemusement of American values is shown to be meaningless in the landscape of war, the meaninglessness of these values are shown by the contrast between the American soldiers and the Vietnamese, Willard reflects on the contrast during the USO show, saying “Charley didn’t get much USO… His idea of great R&R was cold rice and a little rat meat. He had only two ways home: death, or victory.” It’s during the USO show that the real displaced ideas of the American soldiers are shown. A shot of the Vietnamese behind a fence shows them all quiet and calm in comparison to the loutish screams of the soldiers. The scene ends with the show finishing in chaos as the soldiers’ lose control and stampede the stage. During this chaotic scene Willard is seen calm and revolted by the behaviour of his fellow soldiers.

Overall the scene highlights the displaced values of American culture in the setting of war. Willard reflects on the contrast which assumes meaning in that the Vietnamese know they are fighting for a cause while the American seem to have lost their sense of purpose and instead fixate on the insignificant values as a memory of home.

THE UNRESTRAINED FORCE OF THE AMERICAN MILITARY

Buscombe comments on how Coppola captured a representation of war in Vietnam. He refers not only to the unrestrained force used by the American military, but also highlights the confused intentions of America’s role in the war; the attack on the coastal village best represents this.

The scene opens with the view of helicopters approaching the village blaring out Wagner’s Ride of the Valkyries.  Gilbert Adair explains the music as being ‘stripped of all but its most blatantly bellicose, even Nazi connotations- questionable as music criticism, maybe, but unambiguous (if facile) statement of the film’s own antiwar ideology.’ (1989: 108) Adair emphasises that the music is emotive to a warlike atmosphere; however he also references the connotations with the Nazis. The use of this particular music positions the America’s to the traditional role of the enemy in war films, as the music by association is linked with Germany. The music adds to the grandiose of the scene and also the questioning moral justifications of America’s role, as in the previous scene Kilgore’s (Robert Duvall) motivations for the attack was based on his desire to surf.

After an establishing shot of the helicopters in formation, a cross-cut shows a long-shot of the Vietnamese village. All that is visible is a schoolhouse with children rushing outside before being led away to safety, the faint sound of the helicopter looms in the background. This shot of the schoolhouse shows the peaceful village before the disturbance of the American Air Cavalry. As Adair further explains, ‘the village was there only to be annihilated, its existence as an autonomous human community being preceded by its essence, from the American point of view, as a target.’ (1989: 113) As Adair explains, the Vietnamese are unimportant to the goals of the US military. The main goal for this battle being Kilgore’s desire to see Lance surf, this scene reiterates Buscombe’s comments on the distorted intentions of America’s wartime role.

The shots that follow show the haunting American Air Calvary’s unrestrained force,  from shots of Vietnamese running to safety only to be gunned down viciously by the helicopter gunmen, to Kilgore calling in for a napalm air strike to clear the village of any last remaining dissidents.  The whole battle scene mocks the grandiose of past war films, the use of the music and the character of Kilgore dressed in such a way as to mimic the frontier hero adds to the grand production. This grand production highlights the superiority of the American’s over their Vietnamese enemy.

CONCLUSION                                                  

Overall Apocalypse Now alludes to a mythic and surreal interpretation of the Vietnam War. The mythic landscape of the Vietnam War in Apocalypse now highlights the metaphoric understanding of the deeper issues the war highlighted in terms of the American experience. The film is more about the reflection upon the American conscious rather than the effects and impact the war has on the Vietnamese. The film also abandons any explicit knowledge of explaining the point of war, as explained by Buscombe. The self censored restraint taken by Coppola to explain the war as more of an interpretation to the American consciousness through a mythic interpretation rather than politicising a controversial and sensitive issue that at the time still divided public opinion.