The clip that I chose is from the film Apocalypse Now (1979) directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The clip occurs in the beginning of the film and depicts Martin Sheen drunk, deranged, and crazy from the horrors of the jungle. This clip embodies both paranoia and also nostalgia. Martin Sheen has literally gone insane from the horrors of the jungle, the camera displays a fan spinning and then cuts to a helicopter flying in the air, showing the similarity between the fan and the helicopter. This shot is shown from Martin Sheen’s perspective, the sounds of the fan and it’s spinning remind him of a helicopter flying in the air, he is completely paranoid, he cannot sleep well, he has post traumatic stress that was induced by his time in the jungle. He peers out of his window and realizes he is only in a city when he thinks he’s literally in the middle of a battle, he is highly confused and paranoid. He says that he is “getting softer, every minute I stay in this room I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush he gets stronger, each time I looked around the walls moved in a little tighter”. Sheen is highly paranoid, the walls are closing in on him, and he is nervous that his enemy is getting stronger while he is getting weaker, he feels he needs to get into the jungle in order to make himself strong and survive. Sheen feels paranoia at all times of the day, wherever he is, he is haunted by this paranoia and it causes him to be incapable of living a normal life. This political and jungle paranoia is very similar to the political paranoia of the 70s Nixon/JFK era that Hoberman talks about in his “Cine Paranoia: Conspiracies Unmasked” in The Dream Life. The paranoia that many Americans were experiencing was also being experienced, although more intensely, by American soldiers in Vietnam.
While Martin Sheen is very paranoid, he is also very nostalgic as well. He is tortured by the horrific images that go through his mind as he lies in bed. He says that “I’d wake up and there’d be nothing, when I was here I wanted to be there, when I was there all I could think about was getting back into the jungle”. Sheen is confused, he longs for the jungle when he is at home, when he is in the jungle he longs for his home. Sheen is plagued by deep nostalgia, for a time when he was normal, and could carry out a normal life. That isn’t possible for him now, he is stuck in a limbo, where all of his life is pain, he doesn’t feel content anywhere, and this combination of paranoia and nostalgia drives him to insanity.
#paranoia #nostalgia #warfare #insanity