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Apocalypse Now (1979)

R  |   |  Drama, War  |  15 August 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 419,240 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 957 user | 254 critic | 29 from Metacritic.com

During the Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade colonel who has set himself up as a god among a local tribe.


(as Francis Coppola)


, (as Francis Coppola) , 2 more credits »
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Top Rated Movies #48 | Won 2 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 32 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Tyrone 'Clean' Miller (as Larry Fishburne)
Jerry Ziesmer ...
Bo Byers ...


It is the height of the war in Vietnam, and U.S. Army Captain Willard is sent by Colonel Lucas and a General to carry out a mission that, officially, 'does not exist - nor will it ever exist'. The mission: To seek out a mysterious Green Beret Colonel, Walter Kurtz, whose army has crossed the border into Cambodia and is conducting hit-and-run missions against the Viet Cong and NVA. The army believes Kurtz has gone completely insane and Willard's job is to eliminate him! Willard, sent up the Nung River on a U.S. Navy patrol boat, discovers that his target is one of the most decorated officers in the U.S. Army. His crew meets up with surfer-type Lt-Colonel Kilgore, head of a U.S Army helicopter cavalry group which eliminates a Viet Cong outpost to provide an entry point into the Nung River. After some hair-raising encounters, in which some of his crew are killed, Willard, Lance and Chef reach Colonel Kurtz's outpost, beyond the Do Lung Bridge. Now, after becoming prisoners of Kurtz, will... Written by Derek O'Cain

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


The Horror. . . The Horror. . .


Drama | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing violent images, language, sexual content and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:



| |

Release Date:

15 August 1979 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$31,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$96,992 (USA) (3 August 2001)


£338,493 (UK) (21 December 2001)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


| (Redux) | (workprint)

Sound Mix:

(70 mm prints)| (Redux version)| (35 mm prints)| (Redux version)



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The scene at the beginning with Captain Willard alone in his hotel room was completely unscripted. Martin Sheen told the shooting crew to just let the cameras roll. Sheen was actually drunk in the scene and punched the mirror, which was real glass, cutting his thumb. Sheen also began sobbing and tried to attack Francis Ford Coppola. The crew was so disturbed that they wanted to stop shooting, but Coppola wanted to keep the cameras going. See more »


When the photojournalist welcomes Willard, his bandana is clearly rolled. A few shots later it appears flat on his forehead, and in the next shot it is back rolled again. See more »


[first lines]
Willard: [voiceover] Saigon... shit; I'm still only in Saigon... Every time I think I'm gonna wake up back in the jungle.
Willard: When I was home after my first tour, it was worse.
[grabs at flying insect]
Willard: 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 ...
See more »

Crazy Credits

There are no opening credits in the film. The title can be seen as graffiti in the Kurtz compound late in the film. See more »


Referenced in The Unit: Maya Standing Battle Order (2014) See more »


Love Me, And Let Me Love You
by Robert Duvall
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Sheen Shines In This Unique Classic
11 January 2006 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Well, I've watched this movie for over 25 years now and it's still almost as interesting as when I first saw it. It is definitely one of the most unique films ever made.

I still think Martin Sheen got "dissed" big-time in the billing, too. He dominates the film yet gets lesser billing than Marlon Brando, who only appears in the last 30 minutes of this 2 hours, 17 minutes film (theatrical version). How unfair is that?

Sheen is fantastic in here, especially his narration, which runs throughout. It's one of the best narrations, if not THE best, I have ever heard in a movie. His voice is just haunting as he relates his thoughts on this incredible, nightmare-like adventure. I never fail to appreciate his work in this movie.

The other thing that strikes me about the film over the years are the number of memorable scenes, ones I have never forgotten, such as......

Sheen losing it in his hotel room in the movie's first scene; Robert Duvall and the totally out-of-place surfing scenes and then the ensuing attack with Wagner's dramatic classical music blaring out of the helicopters; The Playboy bunny entertaining the troops; Frederic Forrest being freaked out seeing a tiger close up in the jungle; the weird scenes on the long riverboat ride; the appearance of hippie journalist Dennis Hopper greeting the crew in Cambodia and then Brando's bizarre character. It goes on and on with strange scenes.

That's not to say I enjoyed everything. No, there are a few very unpleasant scenes, such as the one in which an ox is sliced in half (can't watch that anymore), an innocent family is slaughtered on a small boat by Sheen's young stoned-out crew, and the crew is a little too goofy at times. Then, there is the huge amount of profanity, led by way too many f-words.

So, there is a lot of good and a lot of bad things in this movie for almost anyone who watches this One thing for sure: it is a film you WILL remember!

44 of 72 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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