l11th Grade English 3/6/2013 Who is the hero in Apocalypse Now? In 2000, Apocalypse Now was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “[c]ulturally, historically, or aesthetically significant. ” This shows how the characters in the film were significant enough to be preserved. In Francis Ford Coppola’s movie Apocalypse Now, Captain Benjamin L Willard is the true hero, because he risks everything, including his life, to fulfill his purpose which is to kill Colonel Walter E. Kurtz. This is important because Willard isn’t a “typical” hero; he isn’t particularly loved and admired by everyone.
Throughout his journey, Willard is confronted by a lot of obstacles and even if he has to make difficult decisions to continue his mission and his tough quest makes him go through psychological changes, he never backs down. Contrary to Kurtz, Willard doesn’t lose himself in insanity and he continues doing what he feels is right. Captain Willard is a hero because he will not stop until he has completed his mission which can be seen as a quest. Captain Willard is extremely faithful to the army. He goes through hell in order to find Kurtz but never stops trying to accomplish his mission.
In the movie Apocalypse Now Willard says: “I was going to the worst place in the world, and I didn’t even know it yet. Weeks away and hundreds of miles up a river that snaked through the war like a main circuit cable – plugged straight into Kurtz. ” This sentence shows that Willard is putting his mission above everything and that he is willing to go through a dangerous river, risking the security of his crew and risking his own life in order to find Kurtz. Willard finds that the river connects him to Kurtz and no obstacle is going to loosen this connection as far as Willard is concerned.
In one scene Willard and Jay “Chef” Hicks go look for mangos in the forest, and they get attacked by a tiger. When they make it back to the boat Jay “Chef” Hicks states: “You can kiss my ass ’cause I’m bugging out! I didn’t drop out of the goddamn eighth grade for this shit, man! I only wanted to learn to cook, I only wanted to fuckin’ cook, man! ” Basically, Jay “Chef” Hicks is saying that their mission is too dangerous and that joining the army isn’t worth giving up his life. Maybe there is a hint of regret, Chef regrets dropping out of school and he is very much afraid of all the dangers they may encounter. A part of him wants to quit.
Willard himself doesn’t reply but he tries to calm his crew and Chef, but he reflects and deduces: “Never get out of the boat. Absolutely goddamn right. Unless you were goin’ all the way. Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin’ program. ” Willard is insisting that precautions have to be taken in order to keep his crew safe. He is a hero because he puts the safety of his crew before any personal needs. Also because he stays more or less calm during any situation, he stays calm to reassure his crew, and to act as an example. One might argue that Kurtz is the true hero of the movie, because he has followers and worshipers.
But Kurtz is insane; he kills innocent people and uses barbaric methods to control the Vietnamese tribe. In the movie Apocalypse Now, Willard meets the “Photojournalist” who is a grand admirer of Kurtz, but even the journalist has to admit that Kurtz’s methods are sometimes uncivilized. When he sees Willard notice the heads surrounding Kurtz’s headquarters he says: “The heads. You’re looking at the heads. I, uh – sometimes he goes too far, you know – he’s the first one to admit it! ” In other words, the photojournalist is admitting that Kurtz isn’t completely sane and that he has trouble limiting his actions.
If Kurtz’s admirers admit that they’re following a man who has no limits or morals, then it is hard to understand why they are so fond of Kurtz. Kurtz is brutal, and uses unnecessary cruelty to “earn” the respect and the veneration of others because he craves power. He is taking advantage of those who are weak-minded; in the movie he takes control over a Vietnamese. At some point in the movie, Kurtz and Willard have a conversation about Willard’s mission: Kurtz: Did they say why, Willard, why they want to terminate my command? Willard: I was sent on a classified mission, sir. Kurtz: It’s no longer classified, is it? Did they tell you?
Willard: They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound. Kurtz: Are my methods unsound? Willard: I don’t see any method at all, sir. Kurtz: I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin? Willard: I’m a soldier. In this scene there is an important contrast between Willard who keeps his mission on his mind, and keeps an important involvement in the army by staying professional, sane and respecting their methods and between Kurtz who doesn’t take the army seriously and who is trying to distract Willard from his mission by convincing him that the army is ruining all of his freedom.
This shows that Kurtz wants to live by his own principles no matter how insane those principles are and without acknowledging any of the negative consequences his actions have on others while Willard is trying to hang onto his values in the midst of the insane environment of the jungle controlled by Kurtz to keep going on his mission without giving in to Kurtz or to insanity. Finally, Willard makes hard decisions in order to successfully complete his mission. At one point in the movie, Willard and his crew cross path with some Vietnamese peasants in a boat.
Clean starts shooting at them to follow protocol and to prevent any possible threats but there is one woman left alive. The crew is determined to help the women, but Willard shoots her. After that, Willard states: “We’d cut them in half with a machine gun and give them a Band-Aid. It was a lie. ” Here Willard is basically saying that there was no point in saving the women because it was hypocritical of them because they kill innocent Vietnamese people all the time under “protocol” but then they want to save a poor Vietnamese woman.
The only thing that taking care of the women would do is loose time. Willard is set on his mission and he will kill as many people and go through as many obstacles as he can in order to get his mission done. Throughout the movie, Willard develops a certain obsession with Kurtz, but Kurtz also admires and respects Willard. When Willard finally finds Kurtz, Kurtz doesn’t kill him even though he knows the nature of his mission. The photographer states to Willard: “Why? Why would a nice guy like you want to kill a genius? [ . . . ] Do you know that the man really likes you?
He likes you. He really likes you. But he’s got something in mind for you. Aren’t you curious about that? I’m curious. [. . . ] And a voice… he likes you because you’re still alive. He’s got plans for you. No, I’m not gonna help you. You’re gonna help him, man…” Basically, the photojournalist is saying that Kurtz wants to keep Willard alive, because Willard isn’t ill he’s untouched. Willard’s image is clean and Kurtz wants him to save his reputation back home. Kurtz wants to use Willard in order to go down in history as a hero. He is asking for Marlow’s help.
The hero of a story helps people but doesn’t ask for help from others. To conclude, Willard is the true hero of the movie Apocalypse Now because he is willing to sacrifice his life to serve his country and his army, because he doesn’t give in to insanity, he maintains rational principles and finally because he is admired by Kurtz. Willard is the true hero because he puts his mission, which is to kill Kurtz, before everything, including his life. He makes hard decisions, and he is self-less. Even thought Willard isn’t a “typical” hero, he’s brave and he earns the respect of Kurtz.