- Kurtz: We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won't allow them to write "fuck" on their airplanes because it's obscene!
- Kurtz: I've seen horrors... horrors that you've seen. But you have no right to call me a murderer. You have a right to kill me. You have a right to do that... but you have no right to judge me. It's impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror... Horror has a face... and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared. They are truly enemies! I remember when I was with Special Forces... seems a thousand centuries ago. We went into a camp to inoculate some children. We left the camp after we had inoculated the children for polio, and this old man came running after us and he was crying. He couldn't see. We went back there, and they had come and hacked off every inoculated arm. There they were in a pile. A pile of little arms. And I remember... I... I... I cried, I wept like some grandmother. I wanted to tear my teeth out; I didn't know what I wanted to do! And I want to remember it. I never want to forget it... I never want to forget. And then I realized... like I was shot... like I was shot with a diamond... a diamond bullet right through my forehead. And I thought, my God... the genius of that! The genius! The will to do that! Perfect, genuine, complete, crystalline, pure. And then I realized they were stronger than we, because they could stand that these were not monsters, these were men... trained cadres. These men who fought with their hearts, who had families, who had children, who were filled with love... but they had the strength... the strength... to do that. If I had ten divisions of those men, our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral... and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling... without passion... without judgment... without judgment! Because it's judgment that defeats us.
- Kilgore: Smell that? You smell that?
- Lance: What?
- Kilgore: Napalm, son. Nothing else in the world smells like that. I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours. When it was all over, I walked up. We didn't find one of 'em, not one stinkin' dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell? The whole hill. Smelled like... victory. Someday this war's gonna end.
- [he reflects on this for a moment and frowns. Then he gets up and walks away. Willard stares at him in disbelief]
- Kurtz: [intercepted radio message] I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That's my dream; that's my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor... and surviving.
- Kurtz: Did they say why, Willard, why they want to terminate my command?
- Willard: I was sent on a classified mission, sir.
- Kurtz: It's no longer classified, is it? Did they tell you?
- Willard: They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.
- Kurtz: Are my methods unsound?
- Willard: I don't see any method at all, sir.
- Kurtz: I expected someone like you. What did you expect? Are you an assassin?
- Willard: I'm a soldier.
- Kurtz: You're neither. You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.
- [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, I get weaker, and every minute Charlie squats in the bush, he gets stronger. Each time I looked around the walls moved in a little tighter.
- Willard: Could we, uh... talk to Colonel Kurtz?
- Photojournalist: Hey, man, you don't talk to the Colonel. You listen to him. The man's enlarged my mind. He's a poet warrior in the classic sense. I mean sometimes he'll... uh... well, you'll say "hello" to him, right? And he'll just walk right by you. He won't even notice you. And suddenly he'll grab you, and he'll throw you in a corner, and he'll say, "Do you know that 'if' is the middle word in life? If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you, if you can trust yourself when all men doubt you"... I mean I'm... no, I can't... I'm a little man, I'm a little man, he's... he's a great man! I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas...
- Willard (voice-over): 'Never get out of the boat.' Absolutely goddamn right! Unless you were goin' all the way... Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin' program.
- Colonel Lucas: Your mission is to proceed up the Nung River in a Navy patrol boat. Pick up Colonel Kurtz's path at Nu Mung Ba, follow it and learn what you can along the way. When you find the Colonel, infiltrate his team by whatever means available and terminate the Colonel's command.
- Willard: Terminate the Colonel?
- General Corman: He's out there operating without any decent restraint, totally beyond the pale of any acceptable human conduct. And he is still in the field commanding troops.
- Civilian: Terminate with extreme prejudice.
- Colonel Lucas: You understand, Captain, that this mission does not exist, nor will it ever exist.
- Kilgore: [recorded message playing from speakers on helicopters flying overhead] I will not hurt or harm you. Just give me back the board, Lance. It was a good board and I like it. You know how hard it is to find a board you like.
- Willard: I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn't even know it yet. Weeks away and hundreds of miles up a river that snaked through the war like a main circuit cable plugged straight into Kurtz. It was no accident that I got to be the caretaker of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz's memory any more than being back in Saigon was an accident. There is no way to tell his story without telling my own. And if his story really is a confession, then so is mine.
- Willard: Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins, they gave me one. Brought it up to me like room service. It was a real choice mission, and when it was over, I never wanted another.
- Willard: No wonder Kurtz put a weed up Command's ass. The war was being run by a bunch of four star clowns who were gonna end up giving the whole circus away.
- Photo Journalist: This is the way the fucking world ends! Look at this fucking shit we're in, man! Not with a bang, but with a whimper. And with a whimper, I'm fucking splitting, Jack.
- Willard: If that's how Kilgore fought the war, I began to wonder what they really had against Kurtz. It wasn't just insanity and murder; there was enough of that to go around for everyone.
- Willard (voice-over): The machinist, the one they called Chef, was from New Orleans. He was wrapped too tight for Vietnam; probably wrapped too tight for New Orleans. Lance, on the forward .50s, was a famous surfer from the beaches south of LA. One look at him and you wouldn't believe he ever fired a weapon in his whole life. Clean... Mr. Clean... was from some South Bronx shithole and the light and space of Vietnam really put the zap on his head. Then there was Phillips, the Chief. It might have been my mission, but it sure as shit was the Chief's boat!
- Kurtz: I worry that my son might not understand what I've tried to be. And if I were to be killed, Willard, I would want someone to go to my home and tell my son everything. Everything I did, everything you saw, because there's nothing that I detest more than the stench of lies. And if you understand me, Willard, you will do this for me.
- Willard: How many people had I already killed? There were those six that I knew about for sure. Close enough to blow their last breath in my face. But this time, it was an American and an officer. That wasn't supposed to make any difference to me, but it did. Shit... charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500. I took the mission. What the hell else was I gonna do?
- Kurtz: [Kurtz dictates to tape] They train young men to drop fire on people. But their commanders won't allow them to write 'fuck' on their airplanes because it is obscene.
- General Corman: Well, you see, Willard, in this war, things get confused out there. Power, ideals, the old morality, and practical military necessity. But out there with these natives, it must be a temptation to be God. Because there's a conflict in every human heart, between the rational and irration, between good and evil. And good does not always triumph. Sometimes, the dark side overcomes what Lincoln called the better angels of our nature.
- Chief Quartermaster (QMC) Phillips: My orders say I'm not supposed to know where I'm taking this boat, so I don't! But one look at you, and I know it's gonna be hot!
- Willard: We're going up river about 75 klicks above the Do Lung bridge.
- Chief Quartermaster (QMC) Phillips: That's Cambodia, captain.
- Willard: That's classified. We're not supposed to be in Cambodia, but that's where I'm going.
- Kurtz: Have you ever considered any real freedoms? Freedoms from the opinion of others... even the opinions of yourself?
- Willard (voice-over): Charlie didn't get much USO. He was dug in too deep or moving too fast. His idea of great R&R was cold rice and a little rat meat. He had only two ways home: death, or victory.
- Willard (voice-over): Everybody wanted me to do it, him most of all. I felt like he was up there, waiting for me to take the pain away. He just wanted to go out like a soldier, standing up, not like some poor, wasted, rag-assed renegade. Even the jungle wanted him dead, and that's who he really took his orders from anyway.
- [quoting Kurtz]
- Willard: In a war there are many moments for compassion and tender action. There are many moments for ruthless action - what is often called ruthless - what may in many circumstances be only clarity, seeing clearly what there is to be done and doing it, directly, quickly, awake, looking at it.
- Photojournalist: What are they going to say about him? What? Are they going to say he was a kind man? He was a wise man? He had plans? He had wisdom? Bullshit, man!
- Chef: [after having encountered a tiger in the jungle, returning to the boat, and proceeding into a nervous breakdown] You can have the whole goddamn fuckin' shit, man! You can kiss my ass in the county square cause I'm fuckin' buggin' out! I didn't come here for this! I don't fuckin' need it, I don't want it! I didn't get out of the goddamn Eighth grade for this kinda shit! All I wanted to do was fuckin' cook! I just wanted to learn to fuckin' cook, man!
- [laughs manically]
- Willard (voice-over): 'Someday this war's gonna end'. That'd be just fine with the boys on the boat. They weren't looking for anything more than a way home. Trouble is, I'd been back there, and I knew that it just didn't exist anymore.
- Willard (voice-over): On the river, I thought that the minute I looked at him, I'd know what to do, but it didn't happen. I was in there with him for days, not under guard; I was free, but he knew I wasn't going anywhere. He knew more about what I was going to do than I did. If the generals back in Nha Trang could see what I saw, would they still want me to kill him? More than ever, probably. And what would his people back home want if they ever learned just how far from them he'd really gone? He broke from them, and then he broke from himself. I'd never seen a man so broken up and ripped apart.
- [quoting Kurtz]
- Willard: As for the charges against me, I am unconcerned. I am beyond their timid lying morality, and so I am beyond caring.
- Willard: [incredulous] What are you talking about?
- Chief Quartermaster (QMC) Phillips: We're taking her to some friendlies, Captain. She's wounded, she's not dead.
- Willard: Get off there, Chef.
- [Willard shoots the injured girl]
- Chef: Fuck it!
- Willard: [to Chief] I told you not to stop. Now let's go!
- Kurtz: What do you call it when the assassins accuse the assassin? A lie. A lie and we have to be merciful.
- Chef: This Colonel guy? He's wacko, man! He's worse than crazy. He's evil. It's fuckin' pagan idolatry. Look around you. Shit! He's loco... I ain't afraid of all them fuckin' skulls and altars and shit. I used to think if I died in an evil place, then my soul wouldn't be able to make it to Heaven. But now? Fuck! I mean, I don't care where it goes, as long as it ain't here. So whaddya wanna do? I'll kill the fuck.
- Willard (voice-over): They were gonna make me a Major for this, and I wasn't even in their fuckin' army anymore.
- Playmate of the Year: [as couple gets steamy, another soldier peers into window] Who are you?
- Clean: I'm next, ma'am.
- Kurtz: Where are you from, Willard?
- Willard: I'm from Ohio, sir.
- Kurtz: Were you born there?
- Willard: Yes, sir.
- Kurtz: Whereabouts?
- Willard: Toledo, sir.
- Kurtz: How far are you from the river?
- Willard: The Ohio River, sir?
- Kurtz: Uh-huh.
- Willard: About 200 miles.
- Kurtz: I went down that river once when I was a kid. There's a place in that river - I can't remember - must have been a gardenia plantation at one time. It's all wild and overgrown now, but about five miles, you'd think that heaven just fell on the earth in the form of gardenias. Have you considered any real freedoms? Freedoms from the opinions of others. Even the opinions of yourself.
- Willard: My mission is to make it up into Cambodia. There's a Green Beret Colonel up there who's gone insane. I'm supposed to kill him.
- Chef: What? Oh, that's typical! Shit! Fuckin' Vietnam mission! I'm short, and we gotta go up there so you can kill one of our own guys? That's fuckin' great! That's just fuckin' great! Shit! That's fuckin' crazy! I thought you were going in there to blow up a bridge, or some fucking railroad tracks or something!
- Willard: I'm sorry. Look, I'll cut you loose here and you can turn around and...
- Chef: [interupting] No, no, we go together... on the boat! We came this far, so we go together. All the way! We'll take you up there, we'll go with you... but on the boat! Okay?
- Lt. Carlsen: I'm Lt. Carlsen. I was sent from Nha Trang with this message for you three days ago, sir. They expected you here a little sooner. This is mail for the boat's crew. You don't know how happy this makes me in delivering all this.
- Willard: Why?
- Lt. Carlsen: Because now I can get out of here... if I can find a way.
- [an enemy artillery shell lands dangerously close by as Lt. Carlsen runs away]
- Lt. Carlsen: You're in the asshole of the world, Captain!
- Colonel Lucas: Your report specifies intelligence/counterintelligence with ComSec I-Corps.
- Willard: I'm not presently disposed to discuss these operations, sir.
- Colonel Lucas: Did you not work for the CIA in I-Corps?
- Willard: No, sir.
- Colonel Lucas: Did you not assassinate a government tax collector in Quang Tri province, June 19th, 1968? Captain?
- Willard: Sir, I am unaware of any such activity or operation... nor would I be disposed to discuss such an operation if it did in fact exist, sir.
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