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Apocalypse Now (1979)

R  |   |  Drama, War  |  15 August 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 419,019 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?


Marlon Brando improvised a lot of Kurtz's dialogue, including an eighteen minute speech, of which only two minutes survived the final cut. According to Peter Manso's "Brando," Meade Roberts, screenwriter for The Fugitive Kind (1960), later heard the entire monologue and said that while some of it was incoherent, most of it was brilliant. At the end of the speech Brando reportedly said to Francis Ford Coppola, "Francis, I've gone as far as I can go. If you need more, you can get another actor." See more »


In addition to Willard's Band aid on his cheek appearing out of nowhere, if you watch the laceration on his cheek, it is more healed early in the movie, and more raw later in the movie. Indeed, Martin Sheen has a scar at that location at the beginning of the movie in the hotel or apartment when the movie opens. 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 four different treatments of the end credits, all four are available in different VHS, laserdisc, DVD and TV prints of the film...... When the film premiered in a limited 70mm format, it had no beginning or end credits, nothing but a one-line Omni Zoetrope copyright notice at the end. Programs were passed out to theater goers in lieu of any credits. When the film went into its wide release its format was 35mm. This version included end credits rolling over surrealistic explosions and burning jungle, showing the Kurtz compound being destroyed. When Coppola heard that people were assuming that the explosions during the end credits of the 35mm version meant that an air strike had been called in on the Kurtz compound (which is not what he wanted audiences to think) he quickly re-edited the 35mm version to have the end credits rolling over a simple black background and a slightly altered musical score. The "Redux" version also has the end credits over a black background but in different screen fonts and including additional "Redux" inserted cast members. See more »


Referenced in Lost: Confirmed Dead (2008) See more »


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

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Lives Up To Its Title
24 April 2008 | by (Queens, New York) – See all my reviews

From all of the Vietnam war movies this is probably the most frightening and disturbing and that is really saying a lot with so many spectacular ones that have come out. It has this freakish feel to it. Everything is so chaotic in the movie it scares you. It is not like it shows a lot of different things compared to the other Vietnam war movies. What does push to such a high level is the:

The directing was spectacular here. Francis Ford Coppola shows of his talent in his last epic movie. Unlike other directors he makes you feel as if you are in the war. Most others just display and show you the horrors of war. Coppola though makes you feel confused, shocked and scared. These feelings of war are usually told to us from a movie or story. This is something that I have only experienced very few times while watching a film. The writing was of course amazing too. It brought you write into the middle of the movie. It never made me bored and this movie is three hours. The cinematography goes hand in hand with the directing which very much added to the freakish experience of watching this film showing all the chaos around you even when everything seems calm.

The acting was bone-chilling. Just look at Marlon Brando also giving his last great performance playing a deluded, out of whack colonel. When ever I think of a crazy gone made soldier I think Marlon Brando in Apocalpyse Now. With Brando n this film you don't want to look into his eyes. Like the movie he was freakish. To me this performance is as memorable as the one he gave in The Godfather. Martin Sheen gave a very deep performance and probably the best one of his career making you see everything through his eyes all the craziness he is experiencing and yet wanting him to get to his goal. It is just a wonder why these two did not get Oscar nominations. Robert Duvall was able to show part of that craziness with his ludicrous battle strategies, among those playing music to tell the enemy he is coming. Also Duvall's character asking one of the soldiers to surf in the middle of a battle was just shocking but believable. Other great supporting performances were given by a young Laurence Fishburne, Sam Bottoms and Frederic Forest who all summed up the attitudes of many of the soldiers at that time without becoming a cliché. Also for once cameos were put into good use having Dennis Hopper and Harrison Ford who I both love.

I would definitely recommend people to watch this movie. It has a message and everyone involved in the making of it is at their best. There is nothing more I could ask of this movie with its great acting, directing, writing, cinematography and great ending. Watch and you will see why it lives up to its title Apocalpyse Now.

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