Apocalypse Now (1979)

 ●  English ● 2 hrs 33 mins

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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 Willard & the others be able to fulfill their mission?
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Did you know? Marlon Brando improvised the line "You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill." Read More
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as Colonel Walter E. Kurtz
as Captain Benjamin L. Willard
as Chief Phillips
as Playmate, Miss May
as Photojournalist
as Jay 'Chef' Hicks
as Soldier with Suitcase
as Colonel Lucas
as Kilgore's Gunner
as Mike from San Diego
as Tyrone 'Clean' Miller
as AFRS Announcer
as Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore
as Francis de Marais
as Lance B. Johnson
as Lieutenant Richard M. Colby


Second Assistant Director
Assistant Director


Production Company
Associate Producer
Production Manager


Screenplay Writer

Camera and Electrical

Director of Photography



Sound Designer
Sound Re-recording Mixer


Art Director
Production Designer


Casting Director

Special Effects

Special Effects Coordinator


Stunt Coordinator
Film Type:
Feature Film
Colour Info:
Sound Mix:
6-Track 70mm, Dolby, Dolby Digital
Frame Rate:
24 fps
Aspect Ratio:
2.35 : 1
The Horror. . . The Horror. . .
Audio/Video Mismatch
During Willard's briefing in Nha Trang, every time someone mentions the name "Kurtz" on the soundtrack, on screen they are mouthing "Lieghley", the original name of Col. Kurtz's character in the script during the early part of the shooting.

Character Error
When Captain Willard first meets Colonel Kilgore, they exchange salutes while they are still in a combat zone. It is usually military protocol not to salute in a combat zone. Saluting would show a possible sniper who the commanding officer is. (e.g. in Forrest Gump Lt. Dan correctly instructed Gump and Bubba not to salute him in the field.)

Character Error
When Willard is looking through the dossier at the times that Kurtz was denied a transfer to Special Forces ("jump school"), the reason for disapproval is written: "The Army feels, all maters of age and fitness aside..."; "matters" is misspelled.

Character Error
When Bill Kilgore asks about the 6 foot peak, he asks Mike about the point. Earlier, Kilgore introduces Lance Johnson to Johnny from Malibu and Mike from San Diego and Johnny is really the one he asks, not Mike.

Character Error
When Kilgore wants the tree-line bombed with napalm to the stone age, he asks for "Dove Four" and the pilots respond with "Dove One-Three", and "Dove Four" is never referred to again.

When Willard is first shown a photo of Col. Kurtz the name tag on his uniform reads "Leighley". When Willard looks at the photo a second time, the name tag reads "Kurtz". (This is due to the fact the character's name was changed from Kurtz to Leighley and then back to Kurtz during the film's production.)

After the canopy of the boat is destroyed and is replaced by giant leaves, the canopy reappears while they are at the bridge. In subsequent shots after, the canopy is gone again and replaced by the leaves.

When attacking the village, Kilgore's helicopter has rocket pods on each side and no surfboards. When it lands it has surfboards on each side and no rocket pods.

When Willard grabs the sergeant to get fuel for his boat (just before the scene where the playmates dance for the soldiers) his cigarette disappears and reappears between shots.
The scene at the beginning with Captain Willard alone in his hotel room was completely unscripted. Martin Sheen told the shooting crew to just let the cameras roll. Sheen was actually drunk in the scene and punched the mirror which was real glass, cutting his thumb. Sheen also began sobbing and tried to attack Francis Ford Coppola. The crew was so disturbed by his actions that they wanted to stop shooting, but Coppola wanted to keep the cameras going.

It took Francis Ford Coppola nearly three years to edit the footage. While working on his final edit, it became apparent to him that Martin Sheen would be needed to tape a number of additional narrative voice-overs. Coppola soon discovered that Sheen was busy and unable to perform these voice-overs. He then called in Sheen's brother, Joe Estevez, whose voice sounds nearly identical to Sheen's, to perform the new narrative tracks. Estevez was also used as a stand-in/double for Sheen when Sheen suffered a heart attack during the shoot in 1976. Estevez was not credited for his work as a stand-in or for his voice-over work.

Francis Ford Coppola believed that Marlon Brando was familiar with Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness" and had prepared for the role before the legendary actor arrived on the set. When Brando did come out, Coppola was horrified to find that Brando had never read "Heart of Darkness", did not know his lines, and had become extremely fat (Kurtz had always been written as a tall but starvingly-thin man). After some panicking, Coppola decided to film the 5'10" Brando as if he was a massively built, 6'5" brute (to explain Brando's size) and steered the camera clear of Brando's huge belly.

Clint Eastwood turned down the role of Captain Willard because he felt the film was too dark.

Originally scheduled to be shot over six weeks, ended up taking 16 months.

Marlon Brando was paid $1 million in advance. He threatened to quit and keep the advance. Francis Ford Coppola told his agent that he didn't care, and if they couldn't get Brando, they would try Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, and then Al Pacino. Brando eventually turned up late, drunk, 40kg (about 88lbs) overweight, and admitted he hadn't read the script or even "Heart of Darkness", the book it was based on. He read Coppola's script, and refused to do it. After days of arguments over single lines of dialogue, an ad-lib style script was agreed upon, and this was shot according to Brando's stipulations that he be filmed mostly in shadows.

The water buffalo (carabao in Filipino) that was slaughtered was real.

Francis Ford Coppola lost 100 pounds while filming.

Laurence Fishburne lied about his age (he was 14 at the time) when production began in 1976.

Marlon Brando improvised the line "You're an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill."

Francis Ford Coppola threatened suicide several times during the making of the film.

There are no opening credits or titles. The title of the movie appears as graffiti late in the film, which reads, "Our motto: Apocalypse Now". This was done simply so the film could be copyrighted, since it could not be copyrighted as "Apocalypse Now" unless the title was seen in the film.

The canteen scene with Lt. Col. Kilgore and the wounded Viet Cong is based on an actual wounded VC fighter who fought while keeping his entrails strapped to his belly in an enameled cooking pot. The incident was documented by the photojournalist Philip Jones Griffiths. The real-life U.S soldier was quoted as saying, "Any soldier who can fight for three days with his insides out can drink from my canteen any time!".