The Subject Position In Apocal Essay Research

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The Subject Position In Apocal Essay, Research Paper The subject position in a film is with whom the audience member most closely identifies with throughout the film. The subject position is created both by the filmmaker and by the audience that views the film. In many films about the American intervention in Southeast Asia, the films create a spectator position that initially is different from American national identity but by the end of the movie the subject position usually comes in line with the views widely held by Americans. Examples of these types of Vietnam films are Platoon and China Gate. But some films in this sub-genre stray from this pattern. One example of a film about Vietnam in which the subject position does not change is Apocalypse Now. In Apocalypse Now,

Francis Ford Coppola creates an unstable subject position that is different from most other films about Vietnam. In Coppola s film the subject position remains fixed to something other than that of American national identity. In Apocalypse Now, Coppola uses the figure of Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) to create a subject position. Coppola wants the audience to experience the film through the eyes and thoughts of Captain Willard. This is accomplished mainly through the use of voice over narration and point of view shots that occur throughout the film. The film uses voice over narration to reveal Willard s thoughts to the audience members and reveals his feelings. Point of view shots abound throughout the film, allowing the spectator to see what Willard sees. The combination of the

two elements almost forces the viewer to identify with Willard. The audience member knows whom the story is about. They experience the film through Willard s thoughts and gaze. The subject position is also created by oppositions to Willard s character, in other words, Willard s other . In Apocalypse Now there are many others . One such other that helps to create the subject position is Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore (Robert Duvall). Kilgore is portrayed as a fearless commander who cares for his men. In the helicopter assault scene, Kilgore chooses the insertion point of the PBR (patrol boat, river) that Willard is traveling on, by which location has the best surfing. During the scene, while everyone else is diving for cover, Kilgore walks around the battlefield with his shirt off

ignoring the mortar shells that are exploding all around him. Kilgore is ignoring what is going on around him in order to accomplish his two missions, to insert the PBR and to surf. This is in opposition to Willard s excessive thinking about his mission to assassinate a renegade officer. Another other that helps define the subject position is the commander of the PBR, Chief. Chief is a by the book sailor who, for the most part, follows his orders and cares for his men. Through Willard s voice over narration, it is revealed that it is Willard s mission, but the Chief s boat. When the Chief stops a Vietnamese sampan and searches it, Chief does it by the book. The crew of the PBR open fire on the sampan, killing all the people on board except for one girl that is severely wounded.

Chief tries to get the girl to a friendly unit but Chief s the book says line is cut off by Willard s gunshot that kills the girl. Willard is not a by the book soldier, he fights the war, accomplishes his mission by whatever means necessary. This strays from conventional notions of national identity that Americans are compassionate and should always help the wounded. Along with Kilgore and Chief, there are many more others in the film but the most significant other in Apocalypse Now is Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Willard is sent on a mission to assassinate Kurtz, who has broken away from United States military authority to attempt to win the war by his own methods. Kurtz is seen as a threat to national identity because of his unorthodox methods. The character of Kurtz is