A major gift for a fairly lengthy sojourn in USA with the children is peaceful free time and space; clean healthy and pollution free environment with the grandchildren the source of entertainment and delight. To some it may be monotonous and too laid back. In fact it is, but then the choices available are there with other means that can engage the mind and the heart. Net Flix does provide you with an opportunity to view those movies that attracted you but you missed. It’s a store house of movies over the ages in all known genre and classifications from all movie producing countries. A veritable bonanza for movie buffs.

Francis Ford Coppola has delighted us with ‘The Godfather, I, II and III’, The Rainmaker’ and ‘The Outsiders’; these being role models for stories on gang wars, family feuds, organized crime and corporate injustice. We saw them and we remain enthralled. Recently I exposed myself to ‘Apocalypse Now’. From Webster I learnt that ‘Apocalypse’ could be, ‘one of the Jewish and Christian writings of 200 BC to AD 150 marked by pseudonymity, symbolic imagery, and the expectation of an imminent cosmic cataclysm in which God destroys the ruling powers of evil and raises the righteous to life in a messianic kingdom’  or ‘something viewed as a prophetic revelation’ or ‘Armageddon’ and or ‘a great disaster <an environmental apocalypse>’. The contextual reference to the movie became clear when it ended.

Francis Ford Coppola spent two years in the Philippine jungle making this film, possibly his greatest work. It is based on Joseph Conrad’s book,’ Heart of Darkness’ The story follows Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) as he U.S. Army Captain and special operations veteran  has returned from action to Saigon where, alone in his room, he experiences hallucinations. Intelligence officers Lt. General Corman (G. D. Spradlin) and Colonel Lucas (Harrison Ford) approach him with an assignment. Willard must follow the Nung River into the remote Cambodian jungle, find US Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) and kill him. Kurtz apparently went insane, going rogue and is now commanding his own Montagnard troops inside neutral Cambodia.

Willard with a chosen group journeys upriver in search of the mysterious — and completely insane — Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). He sifts through files of Kurtz, learning he was a model officer and possible future general, a top soldier in the field. Willard experiences guilt and remorse. He is faced with the dilemma; should he kill Kurtz or remain as his subordinate with him. There are moments as powerful as anything Coppola (or anyone else) ever put on screen, and there are enough of them to make the film a flawed but unmistakable triumph. The air attack set to Wagner’s The Ride of the Valkyries and the Battle at Do Lung Bridge capture the terror and madness of war as few films have, napalm strikes on the enemy and civilians, as further Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) and his men travel up the river, the deeper they are drawn into a surreal nightmare where right and wrong, danger and security, past and present, have begun to blur. As they proceed, they see bodies and severed heads scattered about the nearby temple that serves as Kurtz’s living quarters. Willard is brought to Kurtz who lectures him on his theories of war, humanity and civilization while praising the ruthlessness and dedication of the Viet Cong. He asks Willard to tell his son everything about him in the event of his death.

That night, as the villagers ceremonially slaughter a water buffalo, Willard enters Kurtz’s chamber as Kurtz is making a recording in his note book, and attacks him with a machete. Lying mortally wounded on the ground, Kurtz whispers his final words “The horror … the horror …” before dying. Willard descends the stairs from Kurtz’s chamber and drops his weapon. The villagers do likewise and allow Willard to take his remaining companion by the hand and lead him to the boat. The two of them sail away as airstrikes are launched on the village and Kurtz’s final words echo.  Coppola was famously quoted as saying “This isn’t a film about Viet Nam, this film is Viet Nam.”

When the Vietnamese Nationalist (and Communist-led) Vietminh army defeated French forces at Dienbienphu in 1954, the French were compelled to accede to the creation of a Communist Vietnam north of the 17th parallel while leaving a non-Communist entity south of that line. The United States refused to accept the arrangement. The administration of President Dwight D. Eisenhower undertook instead to build a nation from the spurious political entity that was South Vietnam by fabricating a government there, taking over control from the French, dispatching military advisers to train a South Vietnamese army, and unleashing the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to conduct psychological warfare against the North. When Kennedy was assassinated in November 1963, there were more than 16,000 U.S. military advisers in South Vietnam, and more than 100 Americans had been killed. Kennedy’s successor, Lyndon B. Johnson, committed the United States most fully to the war. In August 1964, he secured from Congress a functional (not actual) declaration of war: the Tonkin Gulf Resolution. Then, in February and March 1965, Johnson authorized the sustained bombing, by U.S. aircraft, of targets north of the 17th parallel, and on 8 March dispatched 3,500 Marines to South Vietnam. Legal declaration or no, the United States was at war.

The capture of Saigon by the Vietnam People’s Army in April 1975 marked the end of the war, and North and South Vietnam were reunified the following year. For the Americans neither any territorial gain, nor the spread of communism arrested.   However 58,269 soldiers killed 153,303 wounded and 1,672 missing all Americans. The estimated Vietnamese casualties vary from one to five millions dead.

Albert Einstein once said, “You cannot simultaneously prevent and prepare for war,” meaning you actually can’t prevent war with war. War for peace is moot, because it is an oxymoron. It is important to note the US, since World War II has participated but not officially declared  it as war the,  Korean War, Vietnam, Invasion of the Dominican Republic, Invasion of Grenada, Lebanese Civil War, Invasion of Panama, Gulf War, Somali Civil War ,Bosnian War, Kosovo War ,Afghanistan War, Iraq War, War in North-West Pakistan ,Yemeni al-Qaeda crackdown ,Libyan Civil War, Lord’s Resistance Army insurgency These are all considered by them as military conflicts, not war.

Apocalypse forever?