Movie Mom

Movie Mom


The Real Story: The Man Who Inspired “Apocalypse Now”

posted by Nell Minow

Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam story Apocalypse Now was inspired by Joseph Conrad’s book, Heart of Darkness, about the disintegration into madness of a man who goes into the jungle.  It was an apt metaphor in the days of the Southeast Asian conflict quagmire, and Marlon Brando gave a mesmerizing performance as Colonel Kurtz.  The documentary about the making of the film adds another layer as it shows the same pressures on the filmmakers that they were portraying with the characters.

The LA Times reports in a fascinating obituary for Robert Rheault, a Green Beret charged with murder, that his story was also an inspiration for screenwriter John Milius.

Rheault (pronounced Roe) and five of his men were accused of murder and conspiracy in the death of a suspected South Vietnamese double agent. When questioned by his superiors, Rheault said the man was away on a secret mission when in fact his body had already been dumped in the South China Sea.

The lie enraged Gen. Creighton Abrams Jr., the U.S. commander in Vietnam, who ordered courts-martial for Rheault and his subordinates. But a few months later, President Nixon’s Army secretary abruptly overruled the general and the charges were dropped, an extraordinary turn that not only deepened the mystery surrounding the case but allowed perplexing questions to fester about the morality of the Vietnam War.

“War,” Rheault once observed, “is a nasty business, with a lot of high-minded objectives, like freedom and fighting the aggressor, to justify killing people.”

An even more significant result from the reports of Rheault’s actions had ripple effects that continue in today’s headlines:

Daniel Ellsberg, a defense analyst for Rand in Santa Monica, read a detailed reconstruction of the case in The Times on Sept. 30, 1969, that convinced him the government “at every level, from bottom to top,” was deceiving the American people. He decided then to leak the Pentagon Papers, the top-secret history of the war that intensified public dissent over U.S. involvement in Vietnam, embarrassed Nixon and provoked the Watergate burglaries that ultimately ended his presidency.



  • http://AddaURLtothiscomment Hani Yared

    I have translated Heart of Darkness into Arabic.

    http://is.gd/qf1cRc

    Many thanks for a lightening story.

Previous Posts

What's Up With My Family? -- App Helps Middle Schoolers Navigate Life
Middle School Confidential™ 3: What’s Up with My Family? is a new IOS app, the next installment of the series for tweens and teens. The third edition continues the story of Jack, Jen, Chris, Abby, Mateo, and Michelle—a tight-knit group of friends in middle school—who are realizing that growi

posted 3:59:49pm Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »

The Simpsons Binge Watch: Every Episode Plus the Movie
Get your food delivery menus ready.  Unplug your phone.  All 552 Simpsons episodes will be broadcast in order, starting tomorrow. They include scenes cut in syndication that have not been on television since the original broadcast. And of course they include some remarkably prescient moments tha

posted 3:59:35pm Aug. 20, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Bo Svenson
Bo Svenson is an actor, writer, director, judo champion, and, as I was lucky enough to find out, an enthralling guy to talk to, turning an interview into a wide-ranging conversation. Svenson was

posted 3:59:35pm Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Tribute: Don Pardo
Don Pardo's face was not familiar.  But his voice was instantly recognizable.  We mourn the loss of one of the great announcers in broadcast history, who died on Monday at age 96. The cast of "Saturday Night Live," where he served as announcer from the beginning, celebrated his 90th birthday.

posted 12:44:03pm Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »

Interview: Gayle Forman of "If I Stay"
Gayle Forman is the author of If I Stay, the source for this week's movie starring Chloë Grace Moretz as Mia, a talented young cellist in a coma following a car accident.  As she hovers between life and death, she remembers incidents from her life with her family and with her rock musician boyfrie

posted 8:00:16am Aug. 19, 2014 | read full post »




Report as Inappropriate

You are reporting this content because it violates the Terms of Service.

All reported content is logged for investigation.