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Apocalypse Now (1979)

Trailer
1:31 | Trailer
A U.S. Army officer serving in Vietnam is tasked with assassinating a renegade Special Forces Colonel who sees himself as a god.

Director:

Francis Ford Coppola (as Francis Coppola)

Writers:

John Milius, Francis Ford Coppola (as Francis Coppola) | 1 more credit »
Popularity
150 ( 60)
Top Rated Movies #53 | Won 2 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 32 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Marlon Brando ... Colonel Walter E. Kurtz
Martin Sheen ... Captain Benjamin L. Willard
Robert Duvall ... Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore
Frederic Forrest ... Jay 'Chef' Hicks
Sam Bottoms ... Lance B. Johnson
Laurence Fishburne ... Tyrone 'Clean' Miller (as Larry Fishburne)
Albert Hall ... Chief Phillips
Harrison Ford ... Colonel Lucas
Dennis Hopper ... Photojournalist
G.D. Spradlin ... General R. Corman
Jerry Ziesmer ... Jerry, Civilian
Scott Glenn ... Lieutenant Richard M. Colby
Bo Byers Bo Byers ... MP Sergeant #1
James Keane ... Kilgore's Gunner
Kerry Rossall ... Mike from San Diego
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Storyline

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

Taglines:

I love the smell of napalm in the morning. See more »

Genres:

Drama | Mystery | War

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for disturbing violent images, language, sexual content and some drug use | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The IMAX poster for Kong: Skull Island (2017) is an homage to the original iconic onesheet for this movie. See more »

Goofs

In the opening montage two different ceiling fans are seen. One is light colored with a louvered housing on the motor. The other is black with no visible motor housing, and is spinning counterclockwise. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Willard: 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 in this room, ...
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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 »

Alternate Versions

A 289min long workprint version exists. It has never been officially released but circulates as a video bootleg. The bootleg contains the following extra material not included in either the original theatrical release or the "redux" version.
  • A longer opening montage, the entire 10 minute song "The End" by The Doors is heard.It intercuts longer helicopters/jungle images with Willard in the hotel room in a drunken rage, as well as a scene where he is with a prostitute. There are various shots outside depicting the streets of Saigon.
  • When the two soldiers pick up Willard in the hotel room there is a brief conversation while they help him shower and shave. They notify him that his wait for his new mission is now over.
  • The scene where Willard is given his assignment is longer and contains much more dialogue. The general informs Willard that the mission is purely voluntary and he can decline it. The general also offers Willard a promotion to major upon completion of the mission. For some reason Colonel Kurtz is referred to in this scene as "Colonel Leevy". There are some external shots of the military base.
  • A brief scene where Willard is introduced to the crew of the Navy P.B.R.
  • Carmine Coppola's score is not present in this version. Many more songs by The Doors are played throughout the film instead.
  • None of the narration or dossier voiceovers are in this version.
  • There is no audio dubbing in this version. All the audio is from the sound recorded during the actual filming. Much of Robert Duvall's dialogue is unitelligable due to the sound of the helicopters in his scenes.
  • A much longer first cavalry "Ride of Valkyrie" attack scene (30+ mins)showing much unused footage and alternate takes.
  • A much longer playboy bunnies performance.
  • Various extended scenes on the boat, and alternate takes and shots.
  • A scene where a miniature toy boat passes the Navy PBR. Lance tries to grab it out of the water. The Chief yells at him to leave it alone claiming it's a booby trap. To prove it the Chief fires some shots at it to which it explodes.
  • When the P.B.R. reaches Do-lung bridge, the soldier that greets them gives a more detailed explanation of the chaos around the bridge.
  • When Lance is reading his letters on the boat, he suddenly stops to machine gun a water buffalo on the shore. The Chief yells at him to stop.
  • The sequence where Clean is killed is omitted.
  • A slightly longer French plantation sequence. After the French woman strips she crawls into the bed with Willard and they begin kissing.
  • The sequence where the Chief is killed is omitted.
  • More dialogue between Willard and the photojournalist when they first reach the Kurtz compound. The Journalist reveals that it was HE who was able to get the montangnards to break off their attack on the boat in the previous scene. Willard repeatedly asks the Journalists name but he refuses to answer.
  • The character of Colby, (the soldier who was sent before Willard to kill Kurtz, played by Scott Glenn) has a much more substantial role in this version. As Willard inspects the compound, Colby tells Willard that the night before, NVA soldiers had attacked (which explains all the bodies laying about the compound). Willard then enters Kurtz's house, much to the dismay of the journalist. Willard sees Kurtz empty bed and his medals, also his journal with the inscription "Drop the bomb, exterminate them all" (many of these scenes were in the final version but re-inserted in different places).
  • The scene where Willard talks to Chef about the air strike on the boat is omitted.
  • In this version. The first time Kurtz appears is the scene where a mud caked Willard is tied up (seated) to a pole in the rain. Kurtz appears with camouflage face paint, Willard asks...."Why he is being mistreated?" and tries to bluff his way past Kurtz by telling him that he had just completed a secret mission in Cambodia, and only stopped for supplies. Kurtz says nothing to him, but plants Chef's head in his lap. (Only a portion of this scene was in the original version).
  • The scene where Willard meets Kurtz in his bed chamber contains more dialogue....as Kurtz makes it clear that he knows why Willard is there.
  • A scene where Kurtz talks to Willard in the bamboo cage while two children sit on top of the cage and dangle insects in Willard's face. He tells him that Willard is "like his colleagues in Washington, master liars who want to win the war but don't want to appear as immoral or unethical".
  • A lengthy scene where the montangnards in a ritualistic display pick up the bamboo cage (with Willard inside) and poke him with sticks (Lance and Colby participate in this). The natives dance around the bamboo cage, chanting and singing while a squealing pig is tied up and killed.
  • A 10 minute version of the scene where Kurtz reads the poem "The Hollow Men", intercutting between his reading and the journalist talking with Willard.
  • A scene where the journalist meets Willard to tell him that he thinks Kurtz is about to kill him because he took his picture again. During which Colby comes behind the journalist and shoots him three times, killing him. Willard throws a knife at Colby's stomach to which he falls, but before he dies he asks Willard to talk to his family for him and asks him to kill Kurtz.
  • Kurtz speech about the horror and the children vaccination are omitted.
  • During the assassination scene at the end, before Willard enters Kurtz' home, one of the guards confronts him. Willard picks up a spear to defend himself as the guard picks up a child to shield himself. Willard runs the spear right through the child and into the guard. The final scene with Willard and the montangnards after Kurtz assasination are omitted.
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Connections

Referenced in Z Nation: Batch 47 (2015) See more »

Soundtracks

Surfin' Safari
Written by Brian Wilson and Mike Love
Guild Music (BMI) c/o Original Sound Entertainment
See more »

User Reviews

 
Excellent tribute to Conrad...
6 May 2018 | by juliette-20138See all my reviews

This film was incredibly well done, and the similarities to Conrad's Heart of Darkness were amazing, creating a similar message in the end. The first scene is everything: the cinematography was perfect, and The End by the Doors as the soundtrack worked eerily well. Lighting throughout the movie, especially surrounding the mysterious Kurtz (although it was needed) also worked well to establish the mood.

Throughout the movie, we are encouraged to see that Kurtz' inhumanity likely stems from being put in a situation where he answers to (essentially) no one, where there are no rules, and where morals he thought he once had fell apart. Maybe, it is more the absence of "civilization" that leads to the "civilization" that encourages inhumane treatment. It is human nature that is at fault, not any individual or group. The encouragement of American society for Kurtz to act in this way also definitely had an effect on him, but this is also human nature in a way. Human nature includes the elite's love for power and their ability to send others off to do the dirty work as well as the quality of obedience in those "others". All of these are human biases, and it seems like only the people who have a great deal of self-awareness/control would be able to overcome them. Coppola's genius in Apocalypse Now encourages us to recognize that we all have darkness inside of us, but it is our ability to overcome this madness, even in the face of no authority or laws OR in the face of authority that is evidently incorrect, that is what matters. This movie, like Conrad's masterpiece, also raises the following questions: When to "shield" the truth? Who should do so? Does anyone have the right to do so? Should the public have full access to all knowledge? It makes sense to think that the general public is sometimes not in the position to make a good judgement call and that emotions would cloud our judgement. But this mindset is also dangerous for the people who ultimately make the call, as it places them on a pedestal that could then cloud their judgement. Hard question that we need to ask ourselves...

There are also apparent differences between Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness. For example, in Heart of Darkness, the British Empire stands firm, with Conrad seeming to respect the British Empire endlessly. With such a positive view of the motherland, the implications in Heart of Darkness in terms of England seem to be that all is not yet lost and there is some hope for mankind after all. The film is entirely different; after watching it and learning of the Vietnam war, few people would dare to advocate for the US as a solution to any problem today. This then leads us to the opposite conclusion: that America has absolutely no right to put itself on a pedestal that creates 'good' in the world. And of course, in today's view, this idea is much more realistic and applicable. I appreciate that Coppola urges his audience to recognize that America is not some heaven and also to look back on history and our mistakes. This movie was very well done, with aspects like sound and editing coming together to create a masterpiece, and raises difficult questions that we must ask ourselves.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French | Vietnamese

Release Date:

15 August 1979 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Apocalypse Now: The Complete Dossier See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$31,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$118,558, 19 August 1979

Gross USA:

$83,471,511

Cumulative Worldwide Gross:

$91,968,688
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

| (Redux) | (workprint) | (Final Cut)

Sound Mix:

70 mm 6-Track (5.1) (70 mm prints)| Dolby Digital (Redux version)| Dolby Stereo (35 mm prints)| DTS (Redux version)| Dolby Atmos (Final Cut)

Color:

Color (Technicolor)| Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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