Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Alternate Best Supporting Actor 1979: Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now

Dennis Hopper did not receive an Oscar nomination for portraying the American photojournalist in Apocalypse Now.

As I wrote in my previous review Apocalypse Now depicts many forms of madness whether it is the rigid and controlled madness of Colonel Killgore (Robert Duvall), the delusions of grandeur of Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), the hidden madness of our guide Willard (Martin Sheen), the almost comatose sort of madness of most of Kurtz's followers, and I suppose the more traditional, as in the very extroverted, type of madness is best personified by Dennis Hopper's nameless photographer. Hopper makes an unexpected appearance just a little bit of time before the expected appearance of Brando's Colonel Kurtz, as Willard and the other crew members arrive to Kurtz's compound which is littered with Kurtz's native worshipers as well as the corpses of many other natives, who perhaps weren't the worshiping type.

One of the best aspects of Apocalypse Now are the surprises found in the journey. One of these surprises is Hopper who plays a photojournalist who obviously has been in Vietnam probably longer than most of the soldiers. Hopper's no stranger to unstable character and he's pitch perfect here as the photojournalist. Hopper turns the photojournalist into a man who seems completely spent in almost every way imaginable. Hopper's physical performance is flawless as his odd, yet entirely natural seeming, movements convey the idea that the man is probably under the influence of more than one substance. Everything about Hopper's manner also instantly suggests the derangement of the man as in his eyes and face you can see that this man has had probably too many experiences to count in the war, and have permanently left him a more than a little mentally off.

Hopper is also terrific in his portrayal of a different kind of worship of Kurtz opposed to the more reserved catatonic manner of the other followers. Hopper instead shows the photojournalist as a strange observer, and outsider despite technically being quite influenced by Kurtz. Hopper is brilliant in his performance of the photojournalists own admiration of Kurtz as the photojournalist seems to be completely awe struck by the idea of the man. Hopper is excellent as he makes the photojournalists own unique worship of Kurtz completely believable, as he makes it some sort of revelation for the photojournalist as if Kurtz has become something he believe in. Hopper's never makes this one note though as there is the short moments where the photojournalist points out that Kurtz is far from perfect. Hopper is great because he brings the moments of defensive doubts in the man so naturally, and never leaves the photojournalist as a simple fanatic.

Like the performances of Frederic Forrest, Robert Duvall and Marlon Brando, it is just fascinating to watch Hopper perform here. He takes on this completely insane character but never just hams it up in the part. He certainly never leaves the insanity in question in anyway, but makes it feel completely authentic to the setting of the film as well as the part. If I had a problem with Hopper's performance, and in reality don't, is that I only could have gone for more of him in the film. Hopper's overall screen time is extremely brief yet Hopper still makes his impact beautifully and realizes this character absurdly well. Hopper, despite not even getting a name for his character, creates the photojournalist in such vivid detail that he suggests that this man had his own complicated story to Kurtz's compound. This is exceptional work by Dennis Hopper as he makes his nameless supporting character really worthy of being a lead character in his own film.

10 comments:

luke higham said...

RatedRSar: Your thoughts on the Round of 16 games

RatedRStar said...

@Luke: They have all been very memorable with some great individual performances from numerous players particularly on the losing teams surprisingly enough. Brazil were very lucky to come away with the win as Chile could have stolen it late on, so were The Netherlands, but I wasn't too unhappy with Arjen Robbens diving unlike others simply because he plays for my favorite club lol, Switzerland and USA gave very valiant performances but Argentina and Belgium simply had the bigger legs for extra time given that most of their players are used to pressure such as The Champions League , Germany were very poor against Algeria and got very lucky to win, Costa Rica deserved their win despite the red card.

Michael McCarthy said...

Wow, this looks like a 5 Brennan review.

luke higham said...

RatedRStar: I've Just seen Calvary & Locke & I would like to know your ratings & thoughts on O'Dowd, Moran & Gillen in the former, and thoughts on Hardy in the Latter.

RatedRStar said...

@Luke:

Hardy (5) He manages to creates a complete character who is very calm and composed but when pushed to the level he starts getting more and more desperate as the situation grows worse such as telling his wife about the baby and struggling to succeed with the project, his reactions are genuine because he always seems to thinking if he can do this and constantly keeps the viewer interested in how "everything will be ok"

O'Dowd (3.5) His scenes early on are fine enough I suppose but he doesnt do much in them except be kinda dopey and jokey but his final scenes are very well handled and manage to make the ending very powerful despite his character changing quite rapidly.

Moran (4) Probably the best of the supporting actor performances in the film, his big 2 scenes are his drunk scene and his breakdown near the end of the film and he handles those very well, despite not having much screen time he manages to create a character who despite being rich and pompous actually is very depressed and hateful.

Gillen (2.5) I thought he was fine enough as the rather unlikable doctor, but he didnt leave too much of an impression and seemed at bit one note for most of his performance, that said, his final conversation with Gleeson is fairly well handled, although Gleesons angry reaction steals the whole scene.

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

What's your thoughts on Kelly Riley, RatedRStar?

Michael McCarthy said...

I agree about Hardy, even though Ralph Fiennes for me is still this years frontrunner. I haven't seen Calvary and I understand it's now online. For the people who've seen it, should I just watch it online or wait til I can see it on the big screen?

koook160 (Robert MacFarlane) said...

Wait, because you'd be a horrible human being for pirating. *disapproving glare*

RatedRStar said...

@Michael: If you can find in a local cinema, go see it there, that said, if it is online I would imagine it would be a decent copy since its been out quite a while.

@Koook160: (4.5) I thought she was great, she managed to have a tough but deeply warm chemistry with Gleeson, she does leave her character as a little mystery as we never find out why she is self harming or her random outbursts, but she gives off a glare of pain, her final scene, although brief makes the ending as powerful as it is.

RatedRStar said...

@Michael: I did enjoy Fiennes very much I would probably give him a 4.5 overall.