More than 40 years on from the release of Apocalypse Now, the opening sequence still leaves an unshakeable sense of dread. The film casts an immediate spell, and 'The End' is its incantation. The song’s delirious vocals and shadowy, brooding psychedelic instrumentals are eerily apt accompaniments to the visions of warfare that unfold onscreen. As Captain Willard’s head swims with napalm and choppers, The Doors invite you to join him in the darkness.
Although inspired by Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella Heart of Darkness, director Francis Ford Coppola had quite a different world to work with. Instead of European empires and the Congo, Apocalypse Now deals in America and the Vietnam War. 'The End' also nods to the wider tumult back in the States at the time — to a counterculture learning to question its government’s virtue at home and abroad. The song’s gothic despair sets the scene for the horrors to come. It’s the perfect overture for an all-American nightmare. – Frederick O'Brien
Desplechin, Arnaud."Ismael's Ghosts." The Close-Up (April 11, 2018) ["Featuring brilliant performances from Mathieu Amalric, Charlotte Gainsbourg, and Oscar-winner Marion Cotillard, the shape-shifting drama is about a filmmaker whose life is upended when his wife Carlotta returns after having disappeared twenty years earlier."]
Hernandez, Eugene, Michael Koresky and Nicolas Rapold. "Pedro Almodóvar and Pain and Glory." Film Comment Podcast (September 18, 2019) ["Koresky writes, “There has been no clearer onscreen representation of the filmmaker’s essence than the main character of Pain and Glory, played with exquisite middle-aged restraint by Almodóvar’s longtime muse, Antonio Banderas.”"]