MAPPING APOCALYPSE

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This amazingly detailed map is a rare piece of production art that made it out of the jungle after the filming of Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War epic, Apocalypse Now (1979). It traces the journey of Captain Willard, played by Martin Sheen, down the coast of South Vietnam and up a winding river into Cambodia as he pursues the insane, rogue Colonel Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando.

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Rendered by the film’s art director, Dean Tavoularis, this remarkable document is annotated, not only with place names and scene numbers but with brief descriptions of the corresponding action and lists of characters, props and equipment. For the famous surfing scene at the mouth of the river, Tavoularis noted that, among other things, a water buffalo, a Chinook copter, and of course, napalm would be required.

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The map is even more fascinating when we remember that it doesn’t actually depict the physical movements of the cast and crew. After all, they were shooting in the Philippines, not in Vietnam. The map is rather a picture of the story itself: a concrete representation of a journey that was already a harrowing mental trip.


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