Apocalypse Now

August 15th, 1979

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Apocalypse Now

Still of Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse NowStill of Robert Duvall in Apocalypse NowStill of Martin Sheen in Apocalypse NowFrancis Ford Coppola and Robert Duvall in Apocalypse NowStill of Martin Sheen in Apocalypse NowStill of Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now

During the on-going Vietnam War, Captain Willard is sent on a dangerous mission into Cambodia to assassinate a renegade Green Beret who has set himself up as a God among a local tribe.

Release Year: 1979

Rating: 8.6/10 (225,514 voted)

Critic's Score: 90/100

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Stars: Martin Sheen, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall

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...

Writers: John Milius, Francis Ford Coppola

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 Corman
Jerry Ziesmer - Jerry, Civilian
Scott Glenn - Lieutenant Richard M. Colby
Bo Byers - MP Sergeant #1
James Keane - Kilgore's Gunner
Kerry Rossall - Mike from San Diego

Taglines: The Horror. . . The Horror. . .


Official Website: American Zoetrope |

Release Date: 15 August 1979

Filming Locations: Philippines

Box Office Details

Budget: $31,500,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend: $118,558 (USA) (19 August 1979) (3 Screens)

Gross: $83,471,511 (USA) (9 November 2001)

Technical Specs

Runtime:  | (Redux version)

Did You Know?

James Caan was the director's first choice to play Col. Lucas. Caan, however, wanted too much money for what was considered a minor part in the movie. Harrison Ford was eventually cast in the role.

Incorrectly regarded as goofs: After the helicopter carrying the wounded child leaves, Lance's clothing has changed from his Army fatigues to a pair of shorts (this is because of a cut scene in which Kilgore gives him a pair of shorts to surf in. The scene was restored in the Redux edition.)

[first lines]
Willard: [voiceover] 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.

User Review

In my opinion, Coppola's best work

Rating: 10/10

My favourite movie of all time. This was a flawed piece of work by Coppola and seeing the documentary 'Heart of Darkness' made it even more compelling. Coppola at this point was king of Hollywood after making 'the Godfather' and 'GodfatherII' and had developed the ego necessary to even dare try to make a movie like 'Apocalypse Now'. Through sheer arrogance he went to the Phillipines with a partial script and thought he would know what he would do when he got there. Just as Captain Willard thought he would know what to do once he got to Col. Kurtz's compound. And just like Willard, he DIDN'T know what he was going to do once he got there. This is such a masterpiece of American cinema, beautifully photographed and the river is such a perfect metaphor and backdrop for the story. What I like most about 'Apocalypse Now' is that it offers no answers or conclusions. Consequently, because of this open-endedness, it infuriates some viewers who like their movies to be much more obvious.

This movie defies categorization. Some call it a war movie which it isn't at all, really it is more of a personal study of man. The best pic about Vietnam is 'Platoon' in my opinion and if a viewer is seeking a retelling of the Vietnam War go there first for answers.

Coppola should be commended for his take on the bureaucracy of war which he conveys quite effectively with the meeting with Gen.Corman and Lucas (Harrison Ford) and the Playmate review. The sheer audacity of Kilgore makes him an unforgettable character and the dawn attack will always be a Hollywood classic.

It is an almost psychedelic cruise to a very surreal ending which makes it a movie not accessible to everyone. Very challenging to watch but rewarding as well. I could offer my explanations on each scene but that would be totally pointless. This movie is intended for interpretation and contemplation as opposed to immediate gratification.

A little footnote, definitely if your a first-time viewer of Apocalypse Now, watch the original version first, the 'Redux' version is, I think, more intended for the hardcore fan and is more of a curiosity than a 'new and improved' version of the movie

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