- The entire introduction of the Air Cavalry counts as one for filmmaking. Every shot has dozens of moving parts, with helicopters buzzing, landing, taking off, soldiers moving, talking and fighting, civilians evacuating, tanks spraying fire, journalists poking through the ruins, vehicles rumbling ashore or being loaded with civilians, all while actors move and talk in long, barely interrupted tracking shots. The audio mixing alone is a work of pure art, with each audio setpiece (the medics, the flamethrower, the radioman, the translated announcer and the preacher) seamlessly blending into one another under the dialog and accompanied by the constant drone of the choppers. Seeing and hearing it in motion is almost unbelievable, especially knowing it was made and mixed before computers.
- A meta-version of Awesome for Robert Duvall, for his delivery of the "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" monologue. Actors kill to get dialogue like that.
- They also get Oscar nominations for it.
- Alternatively you could look at Marlon Brando's presence in the film under the same light. Very few actors could overshadow every other scene in a movie with approximately 10 or so minutes of screen time. In a way Kurtz and Brando were exactly the same, big characters that cast a shadow over the story but only actually show up at the very end.
- Additional props go to Brando doing the whole thing off the cuff because he didn't read the script. It really speaks to his talent as an actor that he's able to make a movie defining performance for a script he didn't even read.
- Another meta-version - if you watch the behind-the-scenes documentary, the fact that Coppola managed to finish the movie at all, much less make one of the most iconic movies of all time, is nothing short of a miracle. Whether or not this should be considered awesome, considering the torture that not just Coppola, but the entire cast went through, is debatable.
Gunner: You hear him? Do you hear him?Roach: [nods]Gunner: Well, bust him. [Roach very slowly makes his way over to Willard and turns off the cassette player] He's out there on the wire, man.Roach: ...Yeah.Gunner: You need a flare?Roach: [looks up, shakes his head no, barely audible] No. [listens. Pause] He's close, man. He's real close.
[Roach loads his grenade launcher.]Distant VC soldier: Fuck you GI! Fuck you! [yells unintelligibly]
[Roach points the grenade launcher high up, listens.]Distant VC soldier: GI! Fuck YOU!
[Roach fires. Pause]Distant VC soldier: GI! FUCK— [BANG!]
[Silence]Roach: [muttering] Motherfucker.Willard: Hey, soldier. [Roach looks at him for the first time. Pause] Do you know who's in command here?Roach: [stares at him. Pause] ...Yeah. [turns away]