This week we’re looking at Marlon Brando’s measured and horrifying performance in Apocalypse Now.
Colonel Kurtz (Brando) describes the horrors of war.
Watch the video and discuss these questions. Don’t worry about whether or not everyone has seen the whole movie. Fill in the missing details using what you see, hear, and imagine.
- Why is the lighting so dark? Why can we barely see his face? Why do we almost never see his mouth?
- Why is it that when we see other characters, they’re much better lit?
- Why is there so much space between his words? Why does he pause so much?
- How does the music/soundscape contribute to the atmosphere?
- Why does he get swarmed by a fly at the end of the speech?
Note: The fact of the matter is that the set was swarmed with flies and Brando even swallowed one during an outtake (see here). But the importance of this question is to emphasize that everything on screen is there on purpose. Why did the director (Coppola) include the shot with the fly in this scene?
- Characters should always change from the beginning of the monologue to the end of the monologue. On first glance it seems like his performance is the same throughout, but there are subtle changes. Can you identify any?