Study Guide

Apocalypse Now Scene 1

Scene 1

Scene 1

Drinking Binge

  • A helicopter glides past some palm trees gently swaying in the jungle breeze as The Doors' song "The End" starts to play. Suddenly, the jungle explodes into flames.
  • Interposed over the helicopter and burning jungle is the image of a young man staring up at a ceiling fan and smoking a cigarette. He's a mess.
  • We see that the young guy has a bottle of booze and a pistol parked next to his bed—never a good combo.
  • The rhythmic sound of the helicopter blades morphs into the sound of the ceiling fan in the hotel room.
  • On voiceover, the young dude tells us that he's in Saigon, the capital of South Vietnam.
  • He says that he keeps thinking that he's going to wake up back in the jungle, in the fighting.
  • He explains that he's divorced his wife and is back in Vietnam waiting for a special mission.
  • The soldier strips down to his underwear and starts doing drunk Tai-Chi or another slow-motion martial art. He seems disturbed.
  • Finally, he punches a mirror and smashes it, bloodying his hand. That's seven years of bad luck.
  • Then he gulps more alcohol, crying and bleeding.
  • Dude's got some issues.
  • Two army guys come and wake the young man—now identified as Captain Willard.
  • Willard's got a towel loosely wrapped around him and we can all see Martin Sheen's butt.
  • Willard thinks that they're there to arrest him, when they're actually just there to present him with his mission.
  • Realizing he's drunk and filthy, they force him into the shower to get him clean and relatively sober.