Study Guide

Apocalypse Now Scene 4

Scene 4

Scene 4

The Cavalry Arrive

  • The boat approaches a point where the American Air Cavalry—helicopters—are attacking Vietnamese positions on land. These copters are supposed to escort the boat to the mouth of the river they'll journey up to find Kurtz.
  • As Willard lands on shore, a director who's filming the fighting tells him not to look at the camera, just keep fighting. (The director is actually the real director Francis Ford Coppola in a brief cameo.)
  • Huts are burning, Vietnamese civilians are fleeing, soldiers are hopping off the helicopters.
  • Willard finds his contact with the Air Cavalry, Col. Kilgore, who hasn't heard about Willard's mission. But he says he'll see what he can do.
  • Kilgore places playing cards on the bodies of dead Vietnamese to let the Viet Cong know that he and his American soldiers killed them.
  • Kilgore goes over to a wounded Viet Cong and gives him a drink of water, despite the protestations of an angry South Vietnamese soldier. He respects the guy because he kept fighting even when mortally wounded. That's the kind of can-do attitude Kilgore can appreciate.
  • Suddenly, he abandons the dying guy (who's still crying out for water) because he hears that Willard's boat has a famous surfer on board.
  • He runs over to Lance and compliments him on his surfing style. Kilgore's a huge fan.
  • Willard looks around, observing a burned-out church, a U.S. chaplain performing a service for some soldiers kneeling on the beach, and a helicopter airlifting a cow held in a net.
  • That's some weird imagery.
  • Late that night, the soldiers have a party on the beach. Kilgore strums a guitar as they drink beer. Willard says that Kilgore seems like the kind of soldier who somehow knows he won't be killed or injured in the war.
  • Willard explains his plans to Kilgore. Kilgore says the village near where Willard wants to get dropped off is pretty hairy—but Lance says that it has great surfing, despite how dangerous it is.
  • Kilgore agrees to take him there. He likes to surf.