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The movie Apocalypse Now is a Vietnam War story about a group of soldiers travelling down a river on a boat to kill a Colonel Kurtz (played by Marlon Brando), who has allegedly gone insane. The movie follows the protagonist, Army Captain Benjamin Willard (played by Martin Sheen), as he leads the crew down the river to find Kurtz.
A. Harrison Barnes
Harrison Barnes

The early part of the movie shows Willard on the verge of insanity himself. He has just returned from his first tour of war and is alone in a hotel room. He’s so drunk he can barely stand; when he punches his fist into a mirror he cries out. Willard longs to get back to the jungle and fight. He can no longer live as a normal person in society. He has tried to live a normal life and now needs to return to the jungle and war. For Willard, war is normal and a normal life is intolerable and drives him mad.

Willard soon meets the crew that he is going to be travelling down the river with. The crew is happy and fresh: one tans himself, another enjoys playing with the radio and a third thinks it’s just fine to go hunting for mangos in the jungle at night. However, by the time they have spent several days journeying down the river they too have either gone insane, are deeply damaged, or are dead. Around the crew, Willard seems calm and collected. He studies up on Kurtz and rationally reflects on the unstable colonel, the crew and his surroundings. While he seemed insane, drunk and out of control when he was in the normal world, Willard now seems calm, collected and together on a small boat in a war zone.