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Analyse the representation of the US military in Apocalypse Now

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Introduction

Analyse the representation of the US military in 'Apocalypse Now' The beach party scene is set at night on a beach where the American soldiers are clearly resting and the voice-over tells us that it is a beach party. The main characters in this scene are the narrator Willard, and Kilgore who is introduced by the narrative. Kilgore is shown as the boss as he is casual and slightly arrogant, with the rest of the men gather around him showing his importance. His cavalry-style hat marks him out as the boss, and he is playing an acoustic guitar which gives him a relaxed image and makes the scene seem more laid back. The men are drinking beer and barbequing steaks, showing that they are trying to have a good time despite being in the middle of a war. The casual racism and disregard for the life of Vietnamese civilians shows a negative side to the American army. The soldiers seem laid back and disorganised. The surfboards show a light side to the battle, and a cut from bombs and weaponry to the surfboards shows the contrast. The setting with the sunrise shows the juxtaposition of beauty against violence and war. ...read more.

Middle

Close-ups on Willard's face shows that he is calm and thoughtful compared to the other soldiers. Several shots of soldiers show their confusion and fear, while Willard and Kilgore both appear collected for different reasons; Kilgore doesn't seem to be afraid of anything, and Willard seems to be focused on his own mission instead of attacking the Vietnamese; he does not fire his weapon and is not really part of the action amongst all of the confusion. A low angle on Willard marks him as an important figure, marking him as the main character in the scene. Long shots show explosions and the actions to show the violence, and fast tracking over the trees shows chaos and destruction. Sounds are mostly diegetic, with the acoustic guitar soldiers singing in the background giving the scene a feeling of relaxation, contrasting with the sound of bombs in the background to remind the audience that they are in the middle of a war zone, and the sounds of the fire that is shown in the clip to draw attention to actions such as the meat being cooked which emphasises the party element and also backs up Willard's commentary that they were trying to make it just like home. ...read more.

Conclusion

The music and noise of the helicopters fades in as the Americans approach, and a bell rings as warning as the women and children panic and try to get away. An elliptical edit is used between the night scene and the next morning, but the sound bridge helps to link these. The slow dissolves between shots of the helicopters and close-ups on Willard's face give a contemplative feel compared to the excitement and confusion of the soldiers hurrying to the helicopters. A cut from Willard's thoughts shows a humorous interlude with the other soldiers joking, which shows that they are trying to make the best out of the situation, and also the mix of emotions that the soldiers go through in the war, as the tone of the scene keeps changing. During the battle, the pace is a lot faster with cuts between the Americans and the Vietnamese to show the opposing views of the two sides and to compare the two of them, with the Americans clearly having the upper hand. Cuts are used to show 'cause and effect'; a soldier is seen pressing a button and then it cuts to an explosion to directly link the two actions. The scene fades away into the smoke to give a smooth transition to the next scene. ?? ?? ?? ?? Rachel Bond ...read more.

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