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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
225 ( 7)
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

Martin Sheen had a heart attack during the filming. Some shots of Willard's back are of doubles, including Sheen's brother Joe Estevez, who was flown out specially. Francis Ford Coppola and Sheen were so worried that backing would be withdrawn by the studio and distributor if news of Sheen's heart attack leaked out that they both kept it quiet. The official shoot schedule said Sheen was hospitalized due to heat exhaustion. See more »

Goofs

When the helicopter drops the PBR onto the water, the superstructure with the radar mast collapses, but in the next shot the boat is fine. 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 no opening credits in the film. The title can be seen as graffiti in the Kurtz compound late in the film. See more »

Alternate Versions

"Apocalypse Now: Final Cut" is a 4K restoration from original negatives and a new cut by Francis Ford Coppola. This version runs at 183 minutes and was released theatrically and on Blu-ray in August 2019. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Animals Unleashed: Apocalypse Meow (2016) See more »

Soundtracks

The End
by Jim Morrison (as The Doors), Ray Manzarek (as The Doors), Robby Krieger (as The Doors), John Densmore (as The Doors)
Performed by The Doors
Courtesy of Elektra/Asylum Records
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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

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Technical Specs

Runtime:

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

Sound Mix:

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

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.39 : 1
See full technical specs »

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