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Apocalypse Now (1979)

R  |   |  Drama, War  |  15 August 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 411,993 users   Metascore: 90/100
Reviews: 955 user | 254 critic | 29 from

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 250 Movies #48 | Won 2 Oscars. Another 20 wins & 30 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 boat's name is "Erebus", seen on the transom, referring to the son of the Greek god of utter darkness, as the movie's source novel was called Heart of Darkness. (Erebus and Terror were also the two lost ships in the famous 1845-6 British polar expedition of Sir John Franklin.) The back of the seat in the forward turret (with dual M2 .50 cal MGs) of the PBR (Lance's position) has the words "God's Country" written on it. The steel gun-shield protecting the gun mount (single M2 .50 cal MG) on the back of the boat is marked with the words "Canned Heat". See more »


When the PBR leaves the Do Lung bridge, it has a radar dome. When they cut to the next river day scene, it doesn't. then, when chef hands out the mail, it does. For the rest of the trip, it's not there. Captain Willard even sits on where it should be when they reach Kurtz's lair. 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 »


Featured in I Love the '70s: 1979 (2003) See more »


Surfin' Safari
Brian Wilson and Mike Love
Guild Music (BMI) c/o Original Sound Entertainment
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

the horror, the horror...
20 April 1999 | by (Hopatcong, NJ) – See all my reviews

So just how insane is 'Apocalypse Now'? Well, let's say that it is the kind of film that makes you want to bang your head against the wall. The beginning has no credits or titles; nothing. The whole film seems like it's taking place on a different world, and as the story moves on, sanity itself is shed. There was a French plantation scene that got cut out, and an alternate ending that would have had a massive battle scene outside Kurtz's compound.

'Apocalypse Now' is not a realistic film in the sense that the presentation of the Vietnam War is far from correct: helicopters going in BEFORE the napalm strikes, a USO show in the jungle at night, and the final bridge all lit-up like a Christmas tree. (for more realistic 'Nam War movies, try 'The Deer Hunter' or 'Platoon')

But what 'Apocalypse Now' lacks in historical accuracy, it makes up in artistic and dramatic scripting. Some of the best photography and lighting ever can be found here.

The film also raises some severe philosophical issues, and gives us entirely new ones. When the movie begins, the war is raging around us. It is chaotic and nerve-racking, yet still rational. When we finally get to Kurtz's base, the action has died down, but rational thinking has long since been vanquished to the point of total lunacy. This shows us the truth about men of war in times of war and peace. The voyage down the river has a sense of time travel (a sense that would have been much more apparent had the French Plantation scene remained.) And when you get to the end, keep in mind the old phrase: The King is dead... Long live the king.

Is Kurtz insane? Or are we not yet ready to understand him? These questions and more are up to you as 'Apocalypse Now has no easy answers.

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