Francis Ford Coppola declares that 'Apocalypse Now' is 'not an anti-war movie'

Ben Arnold
Contributor
Apocalypse Now (Credit: United Artists)

It seems we may have been reading Apocalypse Now all wrong.

Speaking to The Guardian, director Francis Ford Coppola has said that it doesn't fit the notion of being the 'anti-war' movie it is generally considered to be.

In fact, he admits that the movie 'arguably glorifies' the events of the Vietnam war.

“No one wants to make a pro-war film, everyone wants to make an anti-war film,” he said.

“But an anti-war film, I always thought, should be like [Kon Ichikawa’s 1956 Japanese war drama] The Burmese Harp – something filled with love and peace and tranquillity and happiness.

“It shouldn’t have sequences of violence that inspire a lust for violence. Apocalypse Now has stirring scenes of helicopters attacking innocent people. That’s not anti-war.”

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He goes on: “I always thought the perfect anti-war film would be a story in Iraq about a family who were going to have their daughter be married, and different relatives were going to come to the wedding.

Francis Ford Coppola and Robert Duvall at a screening of Apocalypse Now Final Cut in New York (Credit: by Brent N. Clarke/Invision/AP)

“The people manage to come, maybe there’d be some dangers, but no one would get blown up, nobody would get hurt. They would dance at the wedding. That would be an anti-war film.

“An anti-war film cannot glorify war, and Apocalypse Now arguably does. Certain sequences have been used to rev up people to be warlike.”

Asked if he feels guilty about that, he says: “No. I don’t feel guilty, because I know my role in the whole process.”

Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz in Apocalypse Now. (Studiocanal)

Coppola has been working on a fully restored final cut of the revered movie, what he's calling 'the definitive version', for the past two years.

Starring Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen and Dennis Hopper, it's considered one of the benchmark movies about the insanity of the Vietnam war, lifting elements of Joseph Conrad's book Heart of Darkness.

It will be released on 13 August in the UK, with special screenings across the country. Watch a new trailer below.