Oh man... the bullshit piled up so fast in Vietnam, you needed wings to stay above it.
[first lines][voiceover] Saigon... shit; I'm still only in Saigon... Every time I think I'm gonna wake up back in the jungle.
[pause]When I was home after my first tour, it was worse.
[grabs at flying insect]I'd wake up and there'd be nothing. I hardly said a word to my wife, until I said "yes" to a divorce. When I was here, I wanted to be there; when I was there, all I could think of was getting back into the jungle. I'm here a week now... waiting for a mission... 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.
[voice-over] He was close, real close. I couldn't see him yet, but I could feel him, as if the boat were being sucked upriver and the water was flowing back into the jungle. Whatever was going to happen, it wasn't gonna be the way they call it back in Nha Trang.
[voice-over] The machinist, the one they called Chef, was from New Orleans. He was wrapped too tight for Vietnam; probably wrapped too tight for New Orleans. Lance, on the forward .50s, was a famous surfer from the beaches south of LA. One look at him and you wouldn't believe he ever fired a weapon in his whole life. Clean... Mr. Clean... was from some South Bronx shithole and the light and space of Vietnam really put the zap on his head. Then there was Phillips, the Chief. It might have been my mission, but it sure as shit was the Chief's boat!
[voice-over] If that's how Kilgore fought the war, I began to wonder what they really had against Kurtz. It wasn't just insanity and murder; there was enough of that to go around for everyone.
No wonder Kurtz put a weed up Command's ass. The war was being run by a bunch of four star clowns who were gonna end up giving the whole circus away.
[voice-over] It's a way we had over here for living with ourselves. We cut 'em in half with a machine gun and give 'em a Band-Aid. It was a lie. And the more I saw them, the more I hated lies.
[voice-over] How many people had I already killed? There were those six that I knew about for sure. Close enough to blow their last breath in my face. But this time, it was an American and an officer. That wasn't supposed to make any difference to me, but it did. Shit... charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500. I took the mission. What the hell else was I gonna do?
[voice-over] I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn't even know it yet. Weeks away and hundreds of miles up a river that snaked through the war like a main circuit cable plugged straight into Kurtz. It was no accident that I got to be the caretaker of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz's memory any more than being back in Saigon was an accident. There is no way to tell his story without telling my own. And if his story really is a confession, then so is mine.
Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I never wanted another.
[voice-over] "Never get out of the boat." Absolutely goddamn right! Unless you were goin' all the way... Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin' program.
[voice-over] They were gonna make me a Major for this, and I wasn't even in their fuckin' army anymore.
[voice-over] Charlie didn't get much USO. He was dug in too deep or moving too fast. His idea of great R&R was cold rice and a little rat meat. He had only two ways home: death, or victory.
On the river, I thought that the minute I looked at him, I'd know what to do, but it didn't happen. I was in there with him for days, not under guard; I was free, but he knew I wasn't going anywhere. He knew more about what I was going to do than I did. If the generals back in Nha Trang could see what I saw, would they still want me to kill him? More than ever, probably. And what would his people back home want if they ever learned just how far from them he'd really gone? He broke from them, and then he broke from himself. I'd never seen a man so broken up and ripped apart.
Everybody wanted me to do it, him most of all. I felt like he was up there, waiting for me to take the pain away. He just wanted to go out like a soldier, standing up, not like some poor, wasted, rag-assed renegade. Even the jungle wanted him dead, and that's who he really took his orders from anyway.
[interupting] No, no, we go together... on the boat! We came this far, so we go together. All the way! We'll take you up there, we'll go with you... but on the boat! Okay?
The crew were mostly kids; rock & rollers with one foot in their grave.
The First of the Ninth was a old calvary division that traded in their horses for helicopters and went tear-assing around 'Nam looking for the shit...
Part of me was afraid of what I would find and what I would do when I got there. I knew the risks, or imagined I knew. But the thing I felt the most, much stronger than fear, was the desire to confront him.
[voice-over] "Someday this war's gonna end". That'd be just fine with the boys on the boat. They weren't looking for anything more than a way home. Trouble is, I'd been back there, and I knew that it just didn't exist anymore.
[about Colonel Kilgore] Well, he wasn't a bad officer, I guess. He loved his boys, and he felt safe with 'em. He was just one of those guys with that weird light around him. He just knew he wasn't gonna get so much as a scratch here.
[rebuffing Willard's inquiry as to when his family might return home to France] You don't understand our mentality - the French officer mentality. At first, we lose in Second World War. I don't say that you Americans win, but we lose. In Dien Bien Phu, we lose. In Algeria, we lose. In Indochina, we lose! But here, we don't lose! This piece of earth, we keep it. We will never lose it, never![to Hubert] What's he mean?
[cracks it, draining the egg white]The white left, but the yellow stays.
[Redux version]:Captain, are you giving away our fuel for a Playmate of the Month?
[Willard takes a swig from a beer bottle]
[incredulous] What are you talking about?:We're taking her to some friendlies, Captain. She's wounded, she's not dead.
[Willard shoots the injured girl][to Chief] I told you not to stop. Now let's go!