Music and Vision


General Culture, Music

I know no other movie that uses music to such a devastating effect as Apocalypse Now, to unmask war as what it really is (if you haven’t seen the movie, watch the “Redux” version, which is longer and even better), and the helicopter attack on the Vietnamese village to Richard Wagner’s “Ride of the Valkyries”, perfectly edited, is a masterpiece of cinema. It’s quite interesting to see how the movie scene compares with the scene from the corresponding opera (it’s Die Walküre, at the beginning of the third act), here the Bayreuth 1976 version. The one thing that I always wondered about Apocalypse Now is why Coppola did not use the operatic version, where the singing adds an intense layer of outright creepiness over the music, which on its own is quite kitschy actually. Watch the whole thing with the singers just standing there (in a regular concert; actually it seems they really want to act it out, if you see how they move when they’re singing) - somehow, the whole piece works quite differently, doesn’t it?