The screen fades from black to an intensely green jungle and the whooshing blades of a helicopter are heard in slow speed. The dark notes of The Doors' song, The End are heard as vibrant, wispy yellow smoke makes the jungle appear hazy. "This is the end, beautiful friend."" As the voice of Jim Morrison begins, the jungle explodes and is enveloped in flames. The face of Captain Willard, Martin Sheen, appears, and is mixed with the fiery inferno that is the jungle. The song continues as the jungle fades out of the background and the scene becomes exclusively Willard and his room in Saigon. In this opening scene of Apocalypse Now, directed by Francis Ford Coppola, The End figures prominently. The song is an excellent choice for two reasons. First, it fits the film very well aesthetically. Second, the song contains many lines, images and ideas that are closely related to the film and to the novella that the film is an adaptation of, Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. For these reasons, The End is a good choice as an anthem of sorts, for the film.
The End is used not only at the beginning of the film, but at the climax as well. When Willard determines that he must kill Colonel Kurtz, Marlon Brando, The End comes back with a building instrumental that leads to the lyrics, "Come on baby take a chance with us, and meet me at the back of the blue bus."" The song then goes back to a building instrumental that ends in a frenzy. It is synchronized with the killing of Kurtz and the Vietnamese caribou. In both the beginning of the film as described in the .
preceding paragraph, and the climax of the film, The End works very well to set the mood and tone. At the beginning, it is somber, mystical and haunting. At the climax, it is building to a frenzy and seemingly wildly gyrating out of control until the killing of Kurtz. In both of these cases the song is used extremely effectively.
The End is relevant to Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness in more than just its haunting melodies.