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Apocalypse Now (1979)

R  |   |  Drama, War  |  15 August 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 419,540 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?


In the DVD commentary, Francis Ford Coppola downplays his involvement in the controversial slaughter of the water buffalo, saying he "happened to film a ritual" being performed by Ifugao natives. However in the article "Ifugao extras and the making of Apocalypse Now", cast and crew detail how Coppola staged the entire scene, directing the natives to chant and sing while they killed the animal which Coppola provided. Afterwards, Coppola "went overboard and ordered a whole truckload" of animals which he gave to the Ifugao to slaughter on camera. However only one water buffalo slaughter was used in the final cut. ('Flip Magazine 2003, v.2, n.3, pp. 29-33, 90-91') See more »


The Viet Cong's tracer bullets, seen quite often throughout the film, notably when the PT boat is "sprayed" with enemy fire, appear to be red in color. In reality, the Viet Cong used green tracer ammunition while the American's used red tracer ammunition. 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 Tweek City (2005) See more »


(I Can't Get No) Satisfaction
Written by Mick Jagger and Keith Richards
Performed by The Rolling Stones
Courtesy of ABKCO Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

One of the best and most important movies ever
12 January 2005 | by (Canada) – See all my reviews

This movie changed the art of film making, telling a complex story in a powerful new way. The film mixes brutal realism with fantasy, intercutting a modern war with strange scenes full of technicolour smoke. The film uses music not as a score laid in later, but as a practical part of the scene playing from speakers, radios etc. Coppola uses a classic piece of literature as inspiration, taking scenes and characters, and putting them into entirely different surroundings. That is a tricky and brave thing to do. Then he takes a superstar, Brando, pays him a fortune, and films him so that you can barely see his face. The pure guts that such a move requires is astounding, and it works beautifully. This movie belongs in the top ten.

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