Fridge / Apocalypse Now

Fridge Brilliance:

  • In Apocalypse Now, I really disliked where the rogue officer describes how the Viet Cong were not evil despite committing grossly evil acts, but then I realized that he was not exactly sane or a good judge of character and we are not supposed to believe the Viet Cong are good.
  • It always bothered me why U.S Command sent a recently divorced and clearly traumatized veteran of the currently ongoing Vietnam War on a top-secret mission to kill a rogue U.S Special Forces Colonel. You would think they would choose another Special Forces guy who didn't have all these psychological issues to take the mission. Then I realized that the concept of post-traumatic stress disorder was only recently coming into the limelight at that point, and before that, most military forces around the world didn't care if you were traumatized by what you experienced—if your body was intact and you could fire a gun, you were good to go. The U.S. military would be no different towards Captain Willard.
  • For the longest time I thought the part right before the crew enters Cambodia past that bridge was surreal just for the sake of being surreal. Then I realized that we are looking through the eyes and ears of Private Lance who is currently stoned on drugs, no wonder it was surreal.
  • While the plot of Apocalypse Now is essentially Conrad's Heart of Darkness, most of the scenes are taken nearly verbatim from a real-life, first person account of the war, whose title I alas cannot remember. The scene at the bridge is exactly as described, right down to the stoned-out M79 gunner killing the screaming VC with a single, instinctive shot in the dark. The movie was surreal because the war was surreal.
    • The book is Dispatches by Michael Herr, by the way.
  • Colonel Kurtz's assassination turns out being for nothing in the long run. The entire reason Willard was contracted to kill Kurtz was so that his methods of fighting in Laos and Cambodia would be kept secret as America wasn't supposed to be there, even though that type of tactic would be beneficial towards achieving victory. America ends up leaving Vietnam, giving up on winning the war, and the presence of MACV-SOG and the CIA's top secret missions going on there end up being revealed after the end of the war anyway. The death of Kurtz covered up nothing. Kurtz had practical military necessity in mind, not his commanders. A model officer and a loving father and husband was killed for no real reason.
  • The real fridge horror sets in when you realize we need people like Kurtz to make war, and still manage to think war is something that should be done.

Fridge Logic:

  • Would one Colonel, no matter how charismatic and skilled, really be enough to disrupt the effort of a war machine as powerful as the American military? The Generals seem to think that Colonel Kurtz is a threat to their operations, but the only thing Kurtz' overt actions are going to reveal is that America has a presence in Laos and Cambodia when they are only supposed to be operating in Vietnam. At worst the Communists will just get a little angrier than they already are, but who gives a shit? They hate you and want you out of their territory already so it isn't like one Colonel is really going to make a difference. Besides what makes the whole affair even more pointless is that the Vietnam War didn't even end in our favor, the death of Colonel Kurtz was entirely irrelevant in the long run!

Fridge Horror:

  • Many Veterans have cited this as an accurate portrayal of the Vietnam War.