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Apocalypse Now (1979)

R | | Drama, War | 15 August 1979 (USA)
1:30 | Trailer

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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) | 1 more credit »
399 ( 31)
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)


$78,800,000 (USA)

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 director Francis Ford Coppola. The crew was so disturbed that they wanted to stop shooting, but Coppola wanted to keep the cameras going. Sheen was fighting a drinking problem and his own issues. He got so caught up in the scene and his personal internal struggles that he hit the mirror. This was revealed later in a conversation with Coppola and has been shown in the Redux version. See more »


When Captain Willard first meets Colonel Kilgore, they exchange salutes while they are still in a combat zone. It is usually military protocol not to salute in a combat zone. Saluting would show a possible sniper who the commanding officer is. (e.g. in Forrest Gump Lt. Dan correctly instructed Gump and Bubba not to salute him in the field.) 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 Kebab Connection (2004) See more »


Sonnerie Aux Morts
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Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

derserving of it's status as one of the all time greatest films
12 January 2000 | by (roanoke, va) – See all my reviews

i have lost count as to how many times i have watched this movie. i've never grown tired of it since this is a movie that can be enjoyed and interpreted on so many levels. they just don't make movies like this anymore.

after recently finally watching the riveting documentary on the making of this film (Hearts of Darkness:a filmmakers journey into madness), i'm even more amazed that this film even got finished, yet alone turn out so great.

the fact that they actually filmed this movie in the jungles of the Phillipines is the film's greatest asset. you actually FEEL like your in Vietnam.

all of the actors are fantastic with my favorites still being Robert Duvall ("I love the smell of napalm in the morning!!") martin sheen, and the great Marlon Brando.

a lot of people complain that the film gets too murky, weird and cerebral near the end. well, remeber what Coppolla said about this movie, "This film is not about vietnam, it IS vietnam!" what he means is that this film is about MADNESS and not the war.

this movie is based on the short story "Heart of darkness" by Joseph Conrad and is set against the vietnam war instead of the civil war as in the book. i think that was a brilliant combination in my opinion.

this is perfect, challenging film that is dark, violent, humorous at times and well done in every single possible way.

a true classic


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