Learning Beyond the Classics: Hollywood In and Out of Vietnam
Directed by Francis Ford Coppola
With Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall
Rated R, 183 minutes, DCP
In English and French and Vietnamese with English subtitles
Loosely based on Joseph Conrad's The Heart of Darkness, Apocalypse Now transitioned the novella about the inherent corruption in colonialism from Africa to the Vietnam War. The film's famously imperiled production, itself chronicled in Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse a decade later, led to a very polarized reception that included a Palme d'Or despite being screened without being finished — which led to multiple edits including this 2019 version preferred by Coppola. American Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) is assigned to track down and kill Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has reportedly massacred hundreds of innocent people and set up his own fiefdom in the jungle. Willard and his crew encounter strange sights and people on their surreal journey.
Co-presented by the Department of American Studies, Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies, and the David A. Heskin and Marilou Brill Endowment for Excellence.
About the Series
Hollywood In and Out of Vietnam
While often referred to as the “living room war” due to its insertion in the home via television, the Vietnam War became a common subject matter for films inside and outside the Hollywood studio system for years after the fighting ended. This capsule course looks at three major Hollywood studio films on the subject of the Vietnam War while also looking for comparisons and contrasts with three films made without the studio system’s budget, access, and (un)written rules.
About the Instructor
Peter Cajka is Assistant Teaching Professor and Director of Undergraduate Studies in Notre Dame’s Department of American Studies. His research sits at the intersection of Catholic Studies, the history of ideas, and the history of sexuality. His book, Follow Your Conscience: The Catholic Church and the Spirit of the Sixties, was published by the University of Chicago Press in 2021.