Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 Vietnam War epic Apocalypse Now could very well be getting a video game. Oh dear.
Earlier this January, Killspace Entertainment licensed the web domains apocalypsenowgame.com and warisnotagame.net.
The studio is currently working on an original title, but has admitted that it is also working on a yet unnamed licensed game. Rumor has it that the licensed title could be an Apocalypse Now videogame.
Now, don’t get me wrong. Apocalypse Now is one of the greatest films in cinematic history. One that is very dear to my heart. However, I’m not quite sure a video game of this film is warranted. On any level.
For those who’ve lived under a rock all of their lives, Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic war film set during the Vietnam War which was based on the Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness (which I had to read in school). Inspiration was also drawn from various other pieces of celluloid. These include Michael Herr’s Dispatches and Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God.
The film was originally intended to be filmed in 1969, on location in Vietnam during the war, using 16 millimeter film with George Lucas as the director. Fearing that no one would survive the filming, Warner Brothers backed out of the project. Due to the controversy surrounding the war, no other studio would touch the script for any reason.
When Coppola reunited his film group American Zoetrope in 1975, they all decided to do Apocalypse Now as their first project, and filming began in February of 1976. The film’s original sixteen week shoot ended up extending to two hundred thirty eight days. Just an odd note of interest, this is post number 1975.
The cast of Apocalypse Now was nothing short of incredible, including such names as Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, (the then not-so-known) Harrison Ford, Dennis Hopper, Laurence Fishburne (as “Larry Fishburne”), Robert Duvall (in a stunning performance IMHO), and more.
I won’t go into the plot or the adaptation. For that you can check out the Wikipedia article or Roger Ebert’s original review.
Initially, the film wasn’t known for the film itself, but for the problems that plagued the production thereof. This production was lengthy and problematic, to say the least. Some of the issues included:
- Marlon Brando showed up to the set overweight
- Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack
- Extreme weather that destroyed several expensive sets
- Coppola suffered writer’s block, and couldn’t decide how to end the film
- Coppola admitted to having even considered shooting himself, or causing himself to have a great accident in order to get out of the “20 million dollar disaster”
All in all the result was fantastic, as much of the off screen emotion poured into the film layer after layer. Again, I suggest watching the movie if you never have, and I will just get to the point:
Do we need this? Really? I see this as nothing more than a way to cash in on another franchise because those in charge of entertaining us are losing even more of the creative ability that they were hanging on to by a thread. I can envision this being cooked up in an office somewhere in southern California or Austin, Texas:
“We need a game,” says Mr. Moneybags.
“Well, first person shooters are popular,” replies Unshaven Developer.
“Well, we can’t be original. We don’t have the budget to hire someone with an imagination. What IP can we jump on?”
Unshaven Developer scratches his head. “Well, those other guys did The Godfather and Scarface.. What about Platoon? No… wait… Apocalypse Now!”
Now, don’t get me wrong. I can see this being interesting. To a point. It could also be argued that this would expose the film to a new generation. That being the case, I am here to tell you that there is no way in hell that this game will capture the essence Apocalypse Now. It is impossible, and can never be reproduced. That essence was pure. Apocalypse Now was so infected with tragedy, angst, and grit, that it could never be reproduced in a million years. It was filmed in a place, time, and climate that will never be duplicated. This is merely an attempt to make a quick buck.
Since I know nothing about this new developer, it is probably unfair of me to say some of these things. However, you folks know that I shoot it straight. And fair be damned when it comes to meddling with, and even sometimes changing, the story of important films. Of course, I could be wrong. Happens all the time. But, I am willing to wager that this game will be vomited out in record time and contain not a shred of the spirit of this amazing film.
The absolute irony is that as I was growing up, this is what I wanted. Completely engrossing video games based on movie franchises that I loved. Games that added to the story and allowed me to feel like I was part of it. Fast forward twenty years. I am now thirty-nine years old and have come to see this done to death and without a shred of dignity. I no longer see this as cool, but as the butchering of a wonderful piece of art. What started with the Godfather and continued with Scarface is now happening to Apocalypse Now.
The Godfather game was a very risky gamble. While it might have paid off in the end, it still failed to capture the substance of the film. The same could be said of Scarface.
ANGLE ON dollar sign.
Electronic Arts wanted to find a way to cash in on the Grand Theft Auto craze, and in doing that tied it to an already existing IP. Re-creating The Godfather in all its cinematic brilliance is an almost impossible job to do in a videogame, and EA’s finished product conveyed just how vastly different the medium of videogames is from movies. Twelve to fifteen hours into game play, you have completely lost the flow and feel of the movie. Even IGN said, “When special, movie scenes are re-created, the game doesn’t deliver the same flair, style or feel from the movie. There are several times when the game tries to re-create pivotal moments in the movie and it fails.”
What does this mean? That the odds are stacked against Killspace, and we will see more of the same. I challenge them to prove me wrong. And, if they can’t, then I hope they end up in The Hell Where People are Skinned Alive.
What these games do is take a story and bend, warp and change it into their own abhorrent creation. It’s not murder, but it’s damn close. In creating the videogame, if The Godfather was Thomas “Babe” Levy, then I suppose Electronic Arts was Dr. Christian Szell. While this represents more torture than mutilation, I think some of you get my point.
Sadly, people will gobble this up like popcorn. On one hand I can’t stand that these companies do this, but on the other, they know that they will make money off of it, because good or bad, people will eat it up like a stray dog in the Purina factory.
What’s next? Citizen Kane the Game?!? Great, I just gave some wacko game producer in San Francisco an idea.