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Apocalypse Now (1979)

R  |   |  Drama, War  |  15 August 1979 (USA)
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Ratings: 8.5/10 from 419,236 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?


It took Francis Ford Coppola nearly three years to edit the footage. While working on his final edit, it became apparent to him that Martin Sheen would be needed to tape a number of additional narrative voice-overs. Coppola soon discovered that Sheen was busy and unable to perform these voice-overs. He then called in Sheen's brother, Joe Estevez, whose voice sounds nearly identical, to perform the new narrative tracks. Estevez was also used as a stand-in when Sheen suffered a heart attack during the shoot in 1976. Estevez was not credited for his work as a stand-in or for his voice-over work. 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 Twin Falls Idaho (1999) See more »


Suzie Q
By Dale Hawkins, S. J. Lewis, E. Broadwater
Performed by Flash Cadillac
Courtesy of Private Stock Records
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

Coppola conveyed the drama and spectacle of this truly outstanding film…
11 December 2008 | by (Mexico) – See all my reviews

After the success of the first two 'Godfather' films in 1972 and 1974 respectively, Francis Ford Coppola embarked on an ambitious attempt to bring home the reality of the war in Vietnam, which had concluded with the fall of Saigon to the Vietcong in 1975… The plot was loosely based on the book 'Heart of Darkness,' a story by Joseph Conrad about Kurtz, a trading company agent in the African jungle who has acquired mysterious powers over the natives…Coppola retains much of this, including such details as the severed heads outside Kurtz's headquarters and his final words, "The horror… the horror…"

In the film, Sheen plays an army captain given the mission to penetrate into Cambodia, and eliminate, with "extreme prejudice," a decorated officer who has become an embarrassment to the authorities… On his journey up the river to the renegade's camp he experiences the demoralization of the US forces, high on dope or drunk with power…

Although, as a result of cuts forced on Coppola, the film was accused of incoherence when first released, it was by the most serious attempt to get to grips with the experience of Vietnam and a victorious reinvention of the war film genre… In 1980 the film won an Oscar for Best Cinematography and Best Sound…

"Apocalypse Now" was re-released in 2001 with fifty minutes restored… As a result, the motion picture can now be seen as the epic masterpiece it is…

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