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Apt Pupil (1998)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  23 October 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 27,761 users   Metascore: 51/100
Reviews: 250 user | 111 critic | 21 from

A boy blackmails his neighbour after suspecting him to be a Nazi war criminal.



(novel), (screenplay)
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Cast overview, first billed only:
Sociology Teacher
Nightmare Victim
Monica Bowden
Richard Bowden
Victor Bowden
Marjorie Lovett ...
Agnes Bowden
David Cooley ...
Gym Teacher
Blake Anthony Tibbetts ...
Becky Trask
Katherine Malone ...
Grace Sinden ...


Neighborhood boy Todd Bowden (Renfro) discovers that an old man living on his block named Arthur Denker (Mackellan) is Nazi war criminal. Bowden confronts Denker and offers him a deal: Bowden will not go to the authorities if Denker tells him stories of the concentration camps in WWII. Denker agrees and Bowden starts visiting him regularly. The more stories Bowden hears, the more it affects his personality. Written by Casey Ward <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


If you don't believe in the existence of evil, you've got a lot to learn.


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for scenes of strong violence, language and brief sexuality | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:







Release Date:

23 October 1998 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El aprendiz  »

Filming Locations:


Box Office


$14,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$3,583,151 (USA) (23 October 1998)


$8,838,938 (USA) (1 January 1999)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(8 channels)|



Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Director Bryan Singer and cast members Ian McKellen and Bruce Davison subsequently worked together on X-Men (2000). Author Stephen King contributed to an X-Men series called "Heroes for Hope" in 1985. See more »


Kurt Dussander, upon receiving his uniform given by Bowden, commented on how he received a "promotion". The new rank was that of a field officer; a Lieutenant Colonel (Americanized version; German version is Oberstleutnant SS-Obersturmbannfuhrer). The SS insignia was always on the right collar, the other on the left. This occurs just after 30 minutes into the movie. About 52 minutes into the movie, the collar position of the insignia changes collars; the "SS" is now on the left collar, the other on the right. This mistake escapes many of us due to the fact we are seeing him looking at himself in a mirror, and so it seems to make sense. The truth is, of course, despite the use of a mirror, right is still right, and left is still left. See more »


Todd Bowden: [about the killings at the death camps] What did it feel like?
Kurt Dussander: It was something that had to be done. A door had been opened and couldn't be shut. It was the end... You don't understand.
See more »


Referenced in An Interview with John Ottman (2002) See more »


Too Much Of Nothing
Written by Paul Nelson, Sue Fink & Carl Verheyen
Performed by Dante Marchi
See more »

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User Reviews

If you read the novella, don't bother
19 April 1999 | by (Victoria, BC) – See all my reviews

I read the novella in high school, and I found it scary, disturbing, and a real grabber - I couldn't put it down until I was done.

As for the movie version, I'm sorry to say it doesn't work. While there have been much worse Stephen King adaptations, this is still pretty weak. Someone else here said it's been sugarcoated, and I agree. It's been watered down so much, that character's actions that were easy to understand in the book become "Whaa - why did he do that?" here. The ending is the worst part - though I can understand why they may not have been able to recreate the novella's original ending onscreen, couldn't they have thought of a new ending that was better than the one they used here?

The acting is good, one of the few things that works here.

In short: if you have read the novella, do NOT watch this movie - you'll be horrified in a way the filmmakers didn't intend. The positive comments here seem to come from people who haven't read the novella. I still wouldn't recommend this movie even for non-readers, but if you must watch this movie, I strongly urge you to read the novella after you've seen the movie. It'll really open your eyes (in more ways than one), and you'll see how much better the movie could have been.

48 of 71 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Who else felt really bad for the homeless man? arkayenether
A terrible film. jeremy3
For all the people that worry a real cat was harmed in this film... krasnyoktyabr
How much like the book? Gorgeous_Mistake
Is this just a short story or is a novel? jesy-1
I couldn't finish watching it. storey_12
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