Stuff that inspires me: #3 Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey

2001 apaocalypse

I always adored movies as a kid – from Dumbo to Mary Poppins (still one of my all-time favs!), from Ferris Bueller to Rocky… but it was seeing Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey in the space of a month when I was 15 years old that changed the way I looked at films forever. My first proper film crushes!

To be honest, I didn’t entirely understand either film at the time. When I watched both again a couple of years later they opened themselves up to me (a bit). But at 15… they were beautiful… no, somewhere far beyond beautiful. Poetry on the screen. They were epic in every way. They did more than just go from A to B to C: they communicated some sort of profound meaning and story that I couldn’t quite grasp but that felt really, really important. I think the fact that I felt I was missing something definitely helped me to become completely consumed by them – I mean, we all want to feel as if we’re appreciating something slightly above our heads, right? Especially as teenagers.

2001 is a story about the evolution of humankind via a black, alien monolith that we are first introduced to at The Dawn of Man, as it’s appearance on earth seems to stimulate apes to use tools and weapons. The rest of the movie essentially follows mankind’s quest to understand it’s own origins and future through a search for the origin of the monolith. It’s gripping and tense and exciting – but rather than creating thrills or relateable characters, it is primarily focussed on being quiet and patient and intent on filling us with wonder. Yeah, wow-erama.


Apocalypse Now, set during the Vietnam war (but very far from a typical war film), is about a mission of one soldier (Willard) down a river to hunt down a decorated war hero (Kurtz) who has ‘gone native’ and may have caused horrific atrocities. Behind this framework, it is a story about the reality of war – the horror – not so much about Willard finding Kurtz, but discovering what Kurtz himself discovered. It is dark but beautiful, operatic and horrific, and it reaches in to some very dark places of the human soul.

However, it wasn’t just that I was young that made me love these films. The directors, Stanley Kubrick and Francis Ford Coppola, were ahead of the rest of the world with what they were putting on screen. It is genuinely impossible for me to pull out favourite scenes from either film because pretty much every scene in each is a classic. The imagination and the skill required to make art like this is almost beyond my comprehension. Big love. Big, big love for these movies being awesome and showing me the very limits of what cinema can do. I’m not sure that either has ever been matched.


19 thoughts on “Stuff that inspires me: #3 Apocalypse Now and 2001: A Space Odyssey

  1. john zande

    Orange, Apocalypse Now is actually an adaption of Conrad’s, Heart of Darkness; a simply astonishingly brilliant story. Marlow is a company man sent into the Congo to find Kurtz, an ivory trader who’s gone rogue. The river represents an anabasis, a journey inside Marlow where Kurtz is the unchecked animal which lurks inside us all. The journey and meeting with Kurtz nearly kills Marlow. The movie adaption was quite brilliant and blew my mind too when I first saw it… but to really blow your mind, get the book and take three days off to read it uninterrupted. You won’t be disappointed.

    1. beautifulorange Post author

      I know! I’ve read the book too… I was just trying to keep my post as short as possible and focussed on the films themselves… but I should have probably included this very important point 😉 You’re right, it’s a stunning book in itself. Glad you’re a lover of the film too.

  2. ckckred

    Saw those two when I was a teenager as well and both blew my mind. In fact, Apocalypse Now is my favorite film and 2001’s a close second. Both really tested the limit of cinema.

  3. Fogs' Movie Reviews

    No doubt. Two incredibly gorgeous movies, visually. Theyre both great films, and you can mine either for a variety of themes and interpretations. Two films worthy of being “moved” by, for sure…

  4. The Vern

    Great Great post. I love both of these movies very much and are ones I would love to see in theatres. Watch the documentary “Hearts of Darkness” which is about the making of Apocalypse Now and it is really good. I remember watching that before I saw the movie and it adds a lot to that film.

    1. beautifulorange Post author

      Thanks… really appreciate it. I’ve been lucky enough to see them both at theatres… actually, last year in London I saw 2001 with an orchestra and choir playing all of the music live… one of the best things I’ve ever experienced. Just completely awesome.

      Good shout on the doc too. I saw it years ago but I should give it another watch.

  5. Toni

    I also enjoyed both of these for their creative portrayals. I also enjoy Sci-fi because whatever we can imagine is possible.

  6. Pingback: Tribbles, Hangovers & the Great Gatsby | filmhipster

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