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Apocalypse Now (1979)

R  |   |  Drama, War  |  15 August 1979 (USA)
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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 famous helicopter battle where the helicopters swooped in on the village while playing "The Ride of the Valkyries" was meant to be an ironic comment on the Vietnam War. In the original Wagner magna opera "Der Ring des Nibelungen," the Valkyries arrive at a point of apparent victory, but which later results in defeat. Thus, the apparent victory in the helicopter battle would be followed by the eventual defeat in the war. See more »


When the Playboy chopper takes off with the two men holding on you can see a safety wire holding the man who partially drops when the pants of the other man partially give way. 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 Grey's Anatomy: That's Me Trying (2010) See more »


The End
by The Doors
Performed by The Doors
Courtesy of Elektra/Asylum Records
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

My All Time Favourite Movie
23 June 2004 | by (Isle Of Bute , Scotland) – See all my reviews

I first saw APOCALYPSE NOW in 1985 when it was broadcast on British television for the first time . I was shell shocked after seeing this masterpiece and despite some close competition from the likes of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING this movie still remains my all time favourite nearly 20 years after I first saw it

This leads to the problem of how I can even begin to comment on the movie . I could praise the technical aspects especially the sound , editing and cinematography but everyone else seems to have praised ( Rightly too ) these achievements to high heaven while the performances in general and Robert Duvall in particular have also been noted , and everyone else has mentioned the stark imagery of the Dou Long bridge and the montage of the boat traveling upriver after passing through the border

How about the script ? Francis Ford Coppola is best known as a director but he's everyway a genius as a screenwriter as he was as a director , I said " was " in the past tense because making this movie seems to have burned out every creative brain cell in his head , but his sacrifice was worth it . In John Milius original solo draft we have a script that's just as insane and disturbing as the one on screen , but Coppola's involvement in the screenplay has injected a narrative that exactly mirrors that of war . Check how the screenplay starts off all jingoistic and macho with a star turn by Bill Kilgore who wouldn't have looked out of place in THE GREEN BERETS but the more the story progresses the more shocking and insane everything becomes , so much so that by the time reaches Kurtz outpost the audience are watching another film in much the same way as the characters have sailed into another dimension . When Coppola states " This movie isn't about Vietnam - It is Vietnam " he's right . What started off as a patriotic war to defeat communist aggression in the mid 1960s had by the film's setting ( The Manson trial suggests it's 1970 ) had changed America's view of both the world and itself and of the world's view of America

It's the insane beauty of APOCALYPSE NOW that makes it a masterwork of cinema and says more in its running time about the brutality of conflict and the hypocrisy of politicians ( What did you do in the Vietnam War Mr President ? ) than Michael Moore could hope to say in a lifetime . I've not seen the REDUX version but watching the original print I didn't feel there was anything missing from the story which like all truly great films is very basic . In fact the premise can lend itself to many other genres like a western where an army officer has to track down and kill a renegade colonel who's leading an injun war party , or a sci-fi movie where a UN assassin is to eliminate a fellow UN soldier who's leading a resistance movement on Mars , though this is probably down to Joseph Conrad's original source novel

My all time favourite movie and it's very fitting that I chose this movie to be my one thousandth review at the IMDb

363 of 511 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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