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Apt Pupil (1998)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  23 October 1998 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.7/10 from 27,764 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?


In an interview around the time the film was released, Ian McKellen said "I didn't like my character. He didn't seem very deep. He just seemed a representative of evil." See more »


Some question Dussander's description of carbon monoxide gas being introduced to gas chambers through pipes, pointing out that Nazi extermination camps used Zyklon B pellets dropped through openings in the roofs of the chambers, which then released prussic acid (hydrogen cyanide) gas. While the extermination camps, Auschwitz I, Auschwitz II-Birkenau, Majdanek and KZ camp Sachsenhausen and Dacau did use the Zyklon B method, most of the other major extermination camps (Belzec, Sobibor, and Treblinka II) and KZ camps used large gas or diesel engines to produce carbon monoxide exhaust, which was then routed to the gas chambers through pipes. This was learned from the experiences of the T-4 project. (The Chelmno camp had no gas chambers, it instead used gas vans, in which the vans' own carbon monoxide exhaust was routed to the rebuild and airtight cargo bay of the vans, which held the victims.) See more »


Kurt Dussander: [seeing the SS uniform Todd has bought for him] Mary, Mother of God!
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
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User Reviews

A brilliantly concocted mindgame between a Nazi, a boy, and you.
27 June 1999 | by (NYC, NY) – See all my reviews

This film is not for the light of heart or of mind. The story is about a boy who learns that a Nazi war criminal is living right in his metaphoric backyard. Obsessed with learning more than just what they teach you in school, the boy sets off on a journey to discover "How did it feel?" The writing, based on a novella by Stephen King, takes you through the minds of both the boy and the Nazi. It's a battle of wits with real people being the pawns. This movie will mess with your mind. Do not watch it if you aren't up to the challenge. My hat goes off to Brandon Boyce and Bryan Singer, the writer and director, respectively, who seem to have interwoven the story and the audience. Never have I witnessed such an excellent display of psychological warfare.

29 of 40 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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