This Week’s Film/Games Reviews — 17/08/09

August 17, 2009 § Leave a comment

This week I will be reviewing Call of Duty: World at War for the PC and The Chronicles of Riddick on DVD. Having just completed the Xbox 360 version of Assault on Dark Athena, I’m really psyched up for seeing this film. I’ve heard it’s had mixed reviews, so I’m trying to keep my expectations low, but I’m still quite looking forward to it.

Quote of the week:

He would rage and he would cry, my lost soldier.  And I said to him, “There are two of you, don’t you see?  One that kills and one that loves.” And he said to me, “I don’t know whether I am animal or a god.” But you are both.

(Roxanne speaking to Willard in bed, Apocalypse Now! Redux.)

Now, I’d like to talk about this quote for a moment. You’ll only find these lines in the Redux version of the film, and although there are many, many more eminently quotable lines in this movie, this always seems to stick out at me the most. The reason is that it pretty much encapsulates the entire premise of the film: the idea of the human being divided between two selves, between creation and destruction, life and death. I personally find the entire scene at the French plantation very interesting, especially in considering that it was cut from the theatrical version. I am sure there must have been good reasons for this – issues of running time and pace, probably – but there’s something interesting, to me, about a couple of lines, inconspicuously hidden in a discarded scene, that are actually quite significant.

Of course, this isn’t the only time the entire theme of the movie is echoed through the mouths of its characters. Right in the beginning of the film, General Corman says to Willard that

it must be a temptation to be God. Because there’s a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and the irrational, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.  Every man has got a breaking point. You have and I have them.  Walter Kurtz has reached his.  And, very obviously, he has gone insane.

This again reinforces the idea of a kind of duality within the human psyche and the possibility for every human being to inhabit evil. Interestingly, here, it seems that the general is indicating that “every man has got a breaking point” at which one will be corrupted – a certain sense of inevitability or futility is hinted at.

At the end, though, we see Willard accomplishing his mission and it is made very obvious that he has almost come to his “breaking point”, or even perhaps is already there. In killing Kurtz has Willard taken the final step? Has he crossed that last line, and does he have the ability to turn back from the threshold? While the film is extremely dark thematically, the ending is surprisingly optimistic under closer analysis. Willard makes the choice to return home with the last (barely) surviving member of his crew and rejects the temptation and allure of the kind of insanity Kurtz is offering: the power of absolute freedom, to do anything one wishes at any given moment, without consideration of the rightness or wrongness of an action; freedom from conscience, from judgment, from the self. And in light of all this, Willard makes the decision to keep his humanity – or what’s left of it.


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