Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now

4.7 12
Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Cast: Francis Ford Coppola, Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen


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One of a cluster of late-1970s films about the Vietnam War, Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now adapts the Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness to depict the war as a descent into primal madness. Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen), already on the edge, is assigned to find and deal with AWOL Col.See more details below


One of a cluster of late-1970s films about the Vietnam War, Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now adapts the Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness to depict the war as a descent into primal madness. Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen), already on the edge, is assigned to find and deal with AWOL Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), rumored to have set himself up in the Cambodian jungle as a local, lethal godhead. Along the way Willard encounters napalm and Wagner fan Col. Kilgore (Robert Duvall), draftees who prefer to surf and do drugs, a USO Playboy Bunny show turned into a riot by the raucous soldiers, and a jumpy photographer (Dennis Hopper) telling wild, reverent tales about Kurtz. By the time Willard sees the heads mounted on stakes near Kurtz's compound, he knows Kurtz has gone over the deep end, but it is uncertain whether Willard himself now agrees with Kurtz's insane dictum to "Drop the Bomb. Exterminate them all." Coppola himself was not certain either, and he tried several different endings between the film's early rough-cut screenings for the press, the Palme d'Or-winning "work-in-progress" shown at Cannes, and the final 35 mm U.S. release (also the ending on the video cassette). The chaotic production also experienced shut-downs when a typhoon destroyed the set and star Sheen suffered a heart attack; the budget ballooned and Coppola covered the overages himself. These production headaches, which Coppola characterized as being like the Vietnam War itself, have been superbly captured in the documentary, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse. Despite the studio's fears and mixed reviews of the film's ending, Apocalypse Now became a substantial hit and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Duvall's psychotic Kilgore, and Best Screenplay. It won Oscars for sound and for Vittorio Storaro's cinematography. This hallucinatory, Wagnerian project has produced admirers and detractors of equal ardor; it resembles no other film ever made, and its nightmarish aura and polarized reception aptly reflect the tensions and confusions of the Vietnam era.

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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Kryssa Schemmerling
Reenvisioning Heart of Darkness, Joseph Conrad's classic novella about the evils of imperialism, as a story about America's involvement in Vietnam, Francis Ford Coppola created a work of art as powerful and haunting as the original. Military agent Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) is assigned the task of "terminating" the leadership of Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a renegade American colonel who has gone insane and disappeared into the Cambodian jungle. As Willard travels by boat through Vietnam in search of the mysterious Kurtz, the panorama of the Vietnam War, in all its horror and absurdity, unfolds. The acting is uniformly remarkable, with a memorable turn by Robert Duvall as the half-mad Colonel Kilgore, who "loves the smell of napalm in the morning," and a great debut by 14-year-old Laurence Fishburne as a young soldier. Vittorio Storaro's brilliant camera work and an inspired use of the Doors' ominous anthem, "The End," capture the druggy, nightmarish atmosphere of the "psychedelic war"; the film won two Oscars, for cinematography and sound. Coppola spent five harrowing years bringing this masterpiece to the screen (see the documentary on its making, Hearts of Darkness), and it was worth it. Mythical, impressionistic, and horrifying, Apocalypse Now is a stunning achievement that ranks as the best of the many movies made about the Vietnam conflict.
All Movie Guide - Mark Deming
Filmmaking masterpieces are often products of fate rather than design, and while Francis Ford Coppola's fierce ambition to create a great work of art is obvious in Apocalypse Now, the same ambition often threatens to crush the picture under its own weight. Apocalypse Now is an elaborate but often haphazard construction that starts to run out of gas at the three-quarter point without delivering a satisfying ending, and Marlon Brando's often lackadaisical performance as Col. Kurtz never lives up to the massive buildup the story gives it. And yet there are moments as powerful as anything Coppola (or anyone else) ever put on screen, and there are enough of them to make the film a flawed but unmistakable triumph. The air attack set to Wagner's "The Ride of the Valkyries" and the Battle at Do Lung Bridge capture the terror and madness of war as few films have, and the further Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen) and his men travel up the river, the deeper they are drawn into a surreal nightmare where right and wrong, danger and security, past and present, have begun to blur. Coppola also drew a superb performance from Martin Sheen as Willard; a fine but inconsistent actor, Sheen rarely had a role as good as Willard, and he rises to the occasion. There's also excellent supporting work from Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest, G.D. Spradlin, and particularly Albert Hall, who, as Chief, has the burden of being the sole unambiguously disciplined and dedicated soldier in the film. Coppola was famously quoted as saying "This isn't a film about Viet Nam, this film is Viet Nam." If, like that war, Apocalypse Now doesn't quite achieve its objective, it comes close enough to stand as Coppola's last great film.

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Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Lions Gate
[Wide Screen, Color]
[DTS 5.1-Channel Surround Sound]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Disc 1; Apocalypse Now -; Audio Commentary with Director Francis Ford Coppola; ; Disc Two - New Video Interview with Francis Ford Coppola and Actor Martin Sheen; ; New Video Interview with Francis Ford Coppola and Screenwriter John Milius; New "Fred Roos: Casting Apocalypse" featuring never-before-seen original screen tests; Original 1938 Radio Reading of "Heart of Darkness" by Orson Welles; ; 2001 Video Interview of Francis Ford Coppola with Critic Roger Ebert - Presented in its entirety; ; Archival DVD Special Features; ; Disc 3 - Hearts of Darkness - The Ultimate Feature-length Documentary on the making of Apocalypse Now; ; Audio Commentary With Eleanor and Francis Ford Coppola; ; John Milius Script Excerpts with Francis Ford Coppola; Storyboard Gallery; Marketing Archive

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Marlon Brando Col. Walter E. Kurtz
Robert Duvall Lt. Col. Kilgore
Martin Sheen Capt. Benjamin Willard
Frederic Forrest Chef
Dennis Hopper Photo Journalist
Samuel Bottoms Lance
Albert Hall Chief
Harrison Ford Colonel
G.D. Spradlin General
Bill Graham Agent
Cynthia Wood Playmate of the Year
Francis Ford Coppola Film Director
Bo Byers MP Sergeant No. 1
Colleen Camp Playmate
George Cantero Soldier with Suitcase
George Canters Soldier with Suitcase
Linda Carpenter Playmate
Marc Coppola AFRS Announcer
R. Lee Ermey Heliocopter Pilot
Laurence Fishburne Clean
Scott Glenn Colby
James Keane Kilgore's Machine-Gunner
Damien Leake Kilgore's Machine-Gunner
Tom Mason Supply Sgt. Fourier
Ron McQueen Injured Soldier
Herb Rice Roach
Jerry Ross Johnny from Malibu
Kerry Rossall Mike from San Diego
Vittorio Storaro TV Photographer (uncredited)
Jack Thibeau Soldier in Trench
Glenn Walken Lt. Carlsen
Jerry Ziesmer Civilian

Technical Credits
Francis Ford Coppola Director,Producer,Screenwriter
Tony Brandt Asst. Director
Lawrence James Cavanaugh Special Effects
Leon Chooluck Production Manager
Carmine Coppola Score Composer
Gray Fredrickson Co-producer
Lisa Fruchtman Editor
Angelo P. Graham Art Director
Jerry Greenberg Editor
Michael Herr Screenwriter
Charles James Costumes/Costume Designer
Barry Malkin Editor
Richard Marks Editor
John Milius Screenwriter
Walter Murch Editor
Bob Nelson Set Decoration/Design
George R. Nelson Set Decoration/Design
Barrie M. Osborne Production Manager
Fred Roos Co-producer
Tom Sternberg Co-producer
Vittorio Storaro Cinematographer
Dean Tavoularis Production Designer
Jerry Ziesmer Asst. Director
Joseph Conrad Source Author

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