We just received our Blu-ray of Apocalypse Now, and though I am tempted to talk about that, I really don’t know what to say other than that it not only still holds up, but seems to occupy its own territory in humanity’s imagination, a place where a man named Willard is always heading up a river into the heart of darkness. The first few minutes, even on my little television, reminded me of when I had first seen it in the theater, the utter astonishment I felt at watching an entire jungle transmogrified into pure flame. And that was only the beginning. These minutes are some of the finest in all of cinema.
But that is not what I wanted to talk about.
To know man is to know war, and one can only know war by losing one. Perhaps this is why Americans’ understanding of war only seems to begin with Vietnam. But Vietnam was by no means the most dreadful experience of living memory. That honor goes to the “good” war, which we still fail to fully grasp. To grasp it fully would be to collapse into Kurtz’ madness, yet to grasp it is a moral necessity. As good a place as any to begin would be here.