Carmine Coppola

Apocalypse Now

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To view Francis Ford Coppola's epic masterpiece Apocalypse Now is to investigate the dark side of human nature, to probe Heart of Darkness. Listening to the soundtrack is to experience the film again in another, no less mind-bending light. Arranged by Coppola and his father Carmine, the music, dialogue and narration match the film's chilling descent into madness. The score, heavy on electronics and synthetic noise, dangles the listener in front of an abyss akin to the frightful mood evoked by the film's terrifying visceral psychedelics. Keeping with the sequence of the film's action, the soundtrack traces Captain Willard's trip up the river to meet Colonel Kurtz. From the opening helicopters' muffled whirls to the echoes of the unforgiving Vietnamese jungle, the sounds of Apocalypse Now amount to poundings and shrieks of synthesized paranoia, accurately capturing the confusion and discord depicted in the film. Excerpts from the film, named after script indicators such as "Saigon," "The Nung River," "Do Lung Bridge," "Horror," and "Even the Jungle Wanted Him Dead," provide precise snapshots. Some cuts are pure dialogue, while others are dialogue interspersed with the sound of the film. Only three actual songs, each memorable in their own light, appear on the soundtrack: "The End" by The Doors, which captures the film's doors of perception theme, "Susie Q" and Wagner's "Ride of the Valkyries." For Apocalypse Now's devotees, this album brings the film to life without the aid of the visuals. But, since the dialogue cuts run long, the album may prove to be a huge snore for just about any other listener. On a whole it's an unconventional soundtrack; rather, it's a facsimile of many of the film's crucial scenes and an auditory synopsis of a phenomenal cinematic experience.

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