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Apocalypse Now (1979)

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

Directors:

Francis Ford Coppola (as Francis Coppola), Francis Ford Coppola

Writers:

John Milius, Francis Ford Coppola (as Francis Coppola) | 2 more credits »
Popularity
144 ( 19)
Top Rated Movies #56 | Won 2 Oscars. Another 18 wins & 31 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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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 »

Filming Locations:

Philippines 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:

$91,745,287
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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Did You Know?

Trivia

Francis Ford Coppola's wife, Eleanor Coppola, filmed and recorded the making of this film, leading to Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991). See more »

Goofs

In Kurtz's dossier - on one of the pages, item #2 (that starts with "The fly-by formation of Corbra's" the word "prisoners" is misspelled as "prisonars". 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...
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 »

Alternate Versions

A longer director's cut, titled "Apocalypse Now Redux", debuted on 11 May 2001 at the Cannes film festival. This cut was re-edited by Coppola and Walter Murch and features a new Technicolor dye prints with additional footage originally left out of the theatrical release. The new version is 197 minutes long (53 minutes longer than the original version). The restored footage also includes the French plantation scenes with Aurore Clement and Christian Marquand, as well as scenes from the crew meeting the Playmates later on.
  • There are additional scenes when the crew is with Kilgore. During the napalm strike, he helps a wounded Vietnamese child. The napalm strike has ruined the favorable surfing conditions, so Lance and the others leave, much to Kilgore's dismay. Before they leave, Willard steals Kilgore's surfboard. Finally, just before Willard and Chef leave the boat to search for mangoes, a helicopter files by with Kilgore on loudspeaker, asking for his surfboard back. For the Final Cut version, an exchange between Willard and Chef is removed ("How am I going to shoot him next time he comes around? / Hey Chef, make some for the surfboard at the back"), avoiding the jump cut that comes directly after.
  • In the Playmate scenes, Willard trades two drums of oil in exchange for spending two hours with the Bunnies. We see Chef with Miss May in a helicopter, and Lance with the Playmate of the Year in a ransacked house. Miss May was once a bird trainer at Busch Gardens and tries to talk about birds with Chef while he is busy trying to get her to re-enact her photo that he showed the crew. They end up kissing and Miss May gets excited because Chef kisses like a bird. The Playmate of the Year is talking to Lance about her troubles and insecurities about being a Playmate. Clean is seen trying to barge in on both men, and when he barges in on Lance, the Playmates open a chest (in which to hide) and discovers a dead Vietnamese. Lance comforts her. Chef finds out afterwards that Clean is a virgin and starts calling him names on the boat. Willard told Chief that the whole crew can spend time with the Bunnies, but Chief refuses. This sequence was removed from the 40th Anniversary Final Cut version.
  • At the plantation, Chef figures that they are French first and tells them in French that they are Americans and are friends. They bury Clean with his tape player there, and eat dinner with the French. The crew eats with the staff, and Willard eats with the family. Chef wants to speak to the chef but is informed he only speaks Vietnamese. Willard is lectured about France's colonial history in Indochine as well as their military blunders. There also is a scene with Willard and Roxanne, one of the French women, smoking opium. In the Final Cut version, all of the political-related dialogue have been relegated to the background (removed), as well the earlier introduction of De Marais and some of the boat shots earlier (including an early glimpse of the Reporter) so that the focus is more on Willard and Roxanne.
  • At the Kurtz compound, Willard is imprisoned in an oven-like box. Kurtz appears, accompanied by a group of children. He reads to Willard from Time magazine articles about the Vietnam War. This scene was removed from the 40th Anniversary Final Cut version.
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Behind Enemy Lines (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

Collection Musee de l'homme
Zoetrope Music Company
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
My All Time Favourite Movie
23 June 2004 | by Theo RobertsonSee all my reviews

I first saw APOCALYPSE NOW in 1985 when it was broadcast on British television for the first time . I was shell shocked after seeing this masterpiece and despite some close competition from the likes of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING this movie still remains my all time favourite nearly 20 years after I first saw it

This leads to the problem of how I can even begin to comment on the movie . I could praise the technical aspects especially the sound , editing and cinematography but everyone else seems to have praised ( Rightly too ) these achievements to high heaven while the performances in general and Robert Duvall in particular have also been noted , and everyone else has mentioned the stark imagery of the Dou Long bridge and the montage of the boat traveling upriver after passing through the border

How about the script ? Francis Ford Coppola is best known as a director but he's everyway a genius as a screenwriter as he was as a director , I said " was " in the past tense because making this movie seems to have burned out every creative brain cell in his head , but his sacrifice was worth it . In John Milius original solo draft we have a script that's just as insane and disturbing as the one on screen , but Coppola's involvement in the screenplay has injected a narrative that exactly mirrors that of war . Check how the screenplay starts off all jingoistic and macho with a star turn by Bill Kilgore who wouldn't have looked out of place in THE GREEN BERETS but the more the story progresses the more shocking and insane everything becomes , so much so that by the time reaches Kurtz outpost the audience are watching another film in much the same way as the characters have sailed into another dimension . When Coppola states " This movie isn't about Vietnam - It is Vietnam " he's right . What started off as a patriotic war to defeat communist aggression in the mid 1960s had by the film's setting ( The Manson trial suggests it's 1970 ) had changed America's view of both the world and itself and of the world's view of America

It's the insane beauty of APOCALYPSE NOW that makes it a masterwork of cinema and says more in its running time about the brutality of conflict and the hypocrisy of politicians ( What did you do in the Vietnam War Mr President ? ) than Michael Moore could hope to say in a lifetime . I've not seen the REDUX version but watching the original print I didn't feel there was anything missing from the story which like all truly great films is very basic . In fact the premise can lend itself to many other genres like a western where an army officer has to track down and kill a renegade colonel who's leading an injun war party , or a sci-fi movie where a UN assassin is to eliminate a fellow UN soldier who's leading a resistance movement on Mars , though this is probably down to Joseph Conrad's original source novel

My all time favourite movie and it's very fitting that I chose this movie to be my one thousandth review at the IMDb


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