Melissa Green's "Apocalypse Now" Reflections
When I saw "Apocalypse Now" for the first time on Wednesday, I did not interpret the natives' actions at the end of the film as bowing down in worship, as the blog questions suggested. Rather, I viewed the bowing as a gesture of gratitude to the Captain for ridding them of their tyrannical leader, Kurtz. However, I find this other interpretation interesting. I believe that Captain Willard refused the role of deity to the natives' for several reasons. The first reason is the most practical. Given what the military decided to do the Kurtz when it was discovered that he had defected from the military and essentially went insane, it was prudent for Willard to go home in order to prevent an attempt on his life. Staying and becoming the new ruler of this tribe would have only increased the military's resolve to fix the situation. Secondly, Willard had seen first hand what had happened to Kurtz. Though Willard admired Kurtz, he realized that he had gone insane, and that his malarial fever had provoked him to commit atrocities that even Willard could not stomach. Having the decapitated head of Chef being plopped onto his lap while being bound for days was horrifying. It is unlikely that even a soldier like WIllard would've wanted to become that. Finally, I think the refusal of Willard to lead the natives' was a symbolic gesture on the part of Coppola against American Imperialism. The message of the film is that military involvement in other societies based on a dislike of their internal affairs (in this case economic) leads to unnecessary destruction and the most terrible of brutalities.