Apocalypse Now

Omni Zoetrope Released 1979


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Movie Summary

Francis Ford Coppola

Apocalypse Now is the Vietnam War saga by Francis Ford Coppola, based in part on Joseph Conrad's short novel "Heart of Darkness." Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is charged with a secret mission to travel up the Nung River into Cambodia to neutralize Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has been driven insane by the brutality of war and his isolation in the deep jungle. Along the way, Willard's encounters with the Viet Cong intensify, leading up to the looming final conflict with the mad Kurtz. The film features many famous actors in pivotal roles, including Dennis Hopper, Robert Duvall, Harrison Ford, Sam Bottoms, Frederic Forrest, G.D. Spradlin, and the then 17 year-old Laurence Fishburne. The film has acquired legendary status over the years, not least for its ambitious length, scope and technical innovations in sound and cinematography (it indeed won both Academy Awards in those categories). The difficult 14 month-long shoot in the Philippines saw the destruction of many of the film's sets by a typhoon, the near-fatal heart attack of star Martin Sheen, and constant script revisions by Coppola and co-writer John Milius. Apocalypse Now won the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival in 1979, and was nominated for 8 Academy Awards in all.



Metacritic Score

  • 100

    Chicago Sun-Times Roger Ebert

    Remember the weird beauty of the massed helicopters lifting over the trees in the long shot, and the insane power of Wagner's music, played loudly during the attack, and you feel w...

  • 90

    The New York Times Dana Stevens

    In spite of its limited perspective on Vietnam, its churning, term-paperish exploration of Conrad and the near incoherence of its ending, (it) is a great movie. It grows richer and...

  • 90

    Variety Todd McCarthy

    A weightier, more nuanced and fulsome experience than the film the world has known up to now.

Martin Sheen

Martin Sheen

Captain Benjamin L. Willard

Dennis Hopper

Dennis Hopper

American Photojournalist

Robert Duvall

Robert Duvall

Lieutenant Colonel William 'Bill' Kilgore

Laurence Fishburne

Laurence Fishburne

Gunner's Mate Tyrone 'Mr. Clean' Miller

Harrison Ford

Harrison Ford

Colonel Lucas

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Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (0)

  • QUOTES (20)

    • LT Colby: [Richard Colby's last letter to his wife, as read by Willard] Sell the house. Sell the car. Sell the kids. Find someone else. Forget it. I'm never coming back. Forget it.

    • 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 Phillips: [Redux version] Captain, are you giving away our fuel for a Playmate of the Month?
      Cpt Williard: No, Playmate of the Year, Chief!

    • Playmate of the Year: [as couple gets steamy, another soldier peers into window] Who are you?
      Clean: I'm next, ma'am.

    • CPT Williard: [about Colonel Kilgore] Well, he wasn't a bad officer, I guess. He loved his boys, and he felt safe with 'em. He was just one of those guys with that weird light around him. He just knew he wasn't gonna get so much as a scratch here.

    • Lt. Colonel Kilgore: 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...

    • CPT Williard: [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.

    • CPT Williard: Hey soldier, do you know who's in command here?
      Soldier: Ain't you?

    • Lt. Colonel Kilgore: [Explaining why the helicopters play music during air assaults] We use Wagner. It scares the shit out of the slopes. My boys love it!

    • CPT Williard: The First of the Ninth was a old calvary division that traded in their horses for helicopters and went tear-assing around 'Nam looking for the shit...

    • CPT Williard: The crew were mostly kids; rock & rollers with one foot in their grave.

    • Lt. Colonel Kilgore: How're you feeling, Jimmy?
      Door Gunner: Like a mean motherfucker, sir!

    • Lt. Colonel Kilgore: What the hell do you know about surfing, Major? You're from goddamned New Jersey!

    • Lt. Colonel Kilgore: Someday this war's gonna end...

    • Colonel 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!

    • CPT Williard: [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.

    • CPT Williard: [voice-over] They were gonna make me a Major for this, and I wasn't even in their fuckin' army anymore.

    • CPT Williard: [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.

    • CPT Williard: 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.

    • CPT Williard: Are you crazy, Goddammit? Don't you think its a little risky for some R&R?
      LT Col Kilgore: If I say its safe to surf this beach, Captain, then its safe to surf this beach! I mean, I'm not afraid to surf this place, I'll surf this whole fucking place!

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Classics, Military & War