"Illumination Upon The Heart Of Darkness" A Cinematographical Analaysis Of The Lighting Structure Used In Francis Ford Coppola's 'appocalypse Now.'

949 words - 4 pages

In 1979, Vittorio Storaro was awarded the Oscar in Cinematography for Francis Ford Coppola's epic Vietnam War movie Apocalypse Now. In this film, Col. Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) is a high-ranking Green Beret who gets a few wires crossed in his head and declares himself a God among a group of Cambodian tribesmen. Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is then sent on a mission to assassinate him "with extreme prejudice."In the novel by Joseph Conrad, which this film is based on, we are introduced to what the author refers to as 'The Heart of Darkness'. The lighting in this film creates a realistic manifestation of the Heart of Darkness by using the extreme absence of light as its avatar.The most ...view middle of the document...

With the use of spotlights swarming and acting as both key and fill lights, and flares and even Christmas lights used as both background lighting and props, a surreal battlefield is created in the midst of the darkness. With panicking soldiers firing into the unknown and the camp almost swallowed into darkness, a metaphor once again can be seen that areas plunged into complete shadows are also a bastion of evil.The theory of the Heart of Darkness residing in the shadows is prevalent during the scene of Col. Kurtz' assassination. Again, through analysis of the film, it's apparent that Col. Kurtz is deep within the Heart of Darkness, and that in order to be removed from power one must descend into the depths of this evilness. Capt. Willard has become prepared for this and delves himself into the Heart of Darkness in order to carry out his mission. The lighting of the assassination scene reinforces this. Again, with a backlight directed towards the temple walls, and no fill or key light on Capt. Willard, all we see is his outline as he stalks down the hall toward his victim.During the initial attack, both men are draped in darkness; however, with the backlight still on the temple walls and no key of fill lights used to show their features a silhouette effect is displayed, and we can see that Capt. Willard is ruthlessly slashing at Col. Kurtz. During his death, Col. Kurtz falls out of the...

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