Apocalypse Now in three points:

  1. green
  2. smoke
  3. noise

The green thing was more of a problem with the specific screening. Jon and Jill tried to fix it (thank you), to no avail, but I’m including it in the list of points because it was just so green.

In reference to our discussions about Heart of Darkness and how people become bodies – Apocalypse Now definitely did that too, albeit in a different way. I can’t quite remember, but there’s a scene where the protagonist is met with a huge group of people all standing in boats and looking at him. As far as I can recall, they don’t speak or move at all. They’re just there.

I tried writing about smoke but it didn’t work so I’ll move on.

Noise. This is something that troubled me a little bit: it might not seem like it, but I generally dislike loud noises. In movies and TV, at least. When I turn on the TV and the volume’s above 10 (which happens often, because some members of my family turn up the sound), I literally can’t reach for the remote and turn down the volume fast enough. From about a quarter of the way through to about the end of the second third (my impression), it’s just constant, nonstop noise. It reminded me of this Hayao Miyazaki quote:

“If you just have non-stop action with no breathing space at all, it’s just busyness, But if you take a moment, then the tension building in the film can grow into a wider dimension. If you just have constant tension at 80 degrees all the time you just get numb.” (here)

Maybe an “epic war film” just isn’t for me. I found concentrating on what was going on difficult, too, because (to bring back what I said about Trouillot and Heart of Darkness), I found this movie cacophonus. Not meaningless, but cacophonus. Of course this is in part due to the fact that Apocalypse Now is a movie, and HOD is a book and books don’t have noise (unless it’s an audiobook). Also, it was so green. Jon remarked at the end of the screening that we probably got “the gist” of it. For me that was entirely accurate.

I said in tutorial that HOD is a book that maybe I’d reread a few years down the road, but I’m not sure I’d rewatch Apocalypse Now, for three main reasons: the noise, the violence, and the length. In general I don’t like watching movies, basically due to this:

“Reading a book is this entirely personal endeavor, an experience over which you have a fairly high degree of control. You decide where and when and for how long at a time you will inhabit this world, and while our movie-watching options are certainly expanding, they still don’t match our book-reading options. Plus, of course, books can be hundreds and hundreds of pages long and people will still read them. If a movie’s more than three hours or so, everyone starts getting upset.” (here)

Maybe not so much the part about having more book options than movie options (there are, after all, a lot of different stories that are specific to one medium), but definitely the part about control.

I’ve also been thinking lately about what exactly makes certain texts or stories not more or less interesting, but simply more or less comprehensible, to go back once again to Miranda’s blog post. For instance, a lot of us in LB5 (just my impression, again) didn’t fully understand Leviathan, and a lot of us (I think) didn’t like it a lot or at least didn’t want to touch any of its essay topics with a ten-foot pole. Yet I think a lot of us understood Freud pretty well; it’s just that there was hate for it. Jon told us in seminar that whether we liked the Freud text or not, some of his ideas are still a part of our world. Same deal with Leviathan. What is it that makes certain things easier to understand than others? I know it’s the end of the year and everyone’s tired, but I’d love to hear what the rest of you have to say. Thoughts?

(For your consideration, here is a pertinent tweet I found a little while ago.)

Thanks for reading, everyone, for the last time. More than once I’ve spent Tuesdays wishing it was Wednesday, and glancing at the clock during seminar and being relieved that we were only halfway through. I’d like to think I’ve taken some good notes. You’ve all been great.