Apocalypse Now (1979)

R   |    |  Drama, War


Apocalypse Now (1979) Poster

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

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8.5/10
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  • Martin Sheen and Aurore Clément in Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • Francis Ford Coppola in Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • Robert Duvall in Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • "Apocalypse Now" Francis Ford Coppola directs Marlon Brando
  • Martin Sheen in Apocalypse Now (1979)
  • Francis Ford Coppola and Dennis Hopper in Apocalypse Now (1979)

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Cast & Crew

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Director:

Francis Ford Coppola

Writers:

John Milius, Francis Ford Coppola, Michael Herr (narration)

Reviews & Commentary

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User Reviews


23 June 2004 | Theo Robertson
10
| My All Time Favourite Movie
I first saw APOCALYPSE NOW in 1985 when it was broadcast on British television for the first time . I was shell shocked after seeing this masterpiece and despite some close competition from the likes of FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING this movie still remains my all time favourite nearly 20 years after I first saw it

This leads to the problem of how I can even begin to comment on the movie . I could praise the technical aspects especially the sound , editing and cinematography but everyone else seems to have praised ( Rightly too ) these achievements to high heaven while the performances in general and Robert Duvall in particular have also been noted , and everyone else has mentioned the stark imagery of the Dou Long bridge and the montage of the boat traveling upriver after passing through the border

How about the script ? Francis Ford Coppola is best known as a director but he's everyway a genius as a screenwriter as he was as a director , I said " was " in the past tense because making this movie seems to have burned out every creative brain cell in his head , but his sacrifice was worth it . In John Milius original solo draft we have a script that's just as insane and disturbing as the one on screen , but Coppola's involvement in the screenplay has injected a narrative that exactly mirrors that of war . Check how the screenplay starts off all jingoistic and macho with a star turn by Bill Kilgore who wouldn't have looked out of place in THE GREEN BERETS but the more the story progresses the more shocking and insane everything becomes , so much so that by the time reaches Kurtz outpost the audience are watching another film in much the same way as the characters have sailed into another dimension . When Coppola states " This movie isn't about Vietnam - It is Vietnam " he's right . What started off as a patriotic war to defeat communist aggression in the mid 1960s had by the film's setting ( The Manson trial suggests it's 1970 ) had changed America's view of both the world and itself and of the world's view of America

It's the insane beauty of APOCALYPSE NOW that makes it a masterwork of cinema and says more in its running time about the brutality of conflict and the hypocrisy of politicians ( What did you do in the Vietnam War Mr President ? ) than Michael Moore could hope to say in a lifetime . I've not seen the REDUX version but watching the original print I didn't feel there was anything missing from the story which like all truly great films is very basic . In fact the premise can lend itself to many other genres like a western where an army officer has to track down and kill a renegade colonel who's leading an injun war party , or a sci-fi movie where a UN assassin is to eliminate a fellow UN soldier who's leading a resistance movement on Mars , though this is probably down to Joseph Conrad's original source novel

My all time favourite movie and it's very fitting that I chose this movie to be my one thousandth review at the IMDb

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Did You Know?

Trivia

Harvey Keitel was initially cast as Willard. Two weeks into shooting, Francis Ford Coppola replaced him with Martin Sheen. According to Coppola, one piece of film with him made it into the final cut; a shot from the distance of the river boat as it is moving through the water.


Quotes

Willard (voice-over): Saigon... shit; I'm still only in Saigon... Every time I think I'm gonna wake up back in the jungle.
Willard (voice-over): When I was home after my first tour, it was worse.
Willard (voice-over): I'd wake up and there'd be nothing. I hardly said a word to my wife, until I said "yes" to a ...


Goofs

One of the documents in Kurtz's dossier being read by Willard is an official commendation dated January 24, 1964, which is a civilian date format. The date should have been typed in military format, which would be either 24 January 1964 or 24 Jan 64.


Crazy Credits

There are four different treatments of the end credits, all four are available in different VHS, laserdisc, DVD and TV prints of the film...... When the film premiered in a limited 70mm format, it had no beginning or end credits, nothing but a one-line Omni Zoetrope copyright notice at the end. Programs were passed out to theater goers in lieu of any credits. When the film went into its wide release its format was 35mm. This version included end credits rolling over surrealistic explosions and burning jungle, showing the Kurtz compound being destroyed. When Coppola heard that people were assuming that the explosions during the end credits of the 35mm version meant that an air strike had been called in on the Kurtz compound (which is not what he wanted audiences to think) he quickly re-edited the 35mm version to have the end credits rolling over a simple black background and a slightly altered musical score. The "Redux" version also has the end credits over a black background but in different screen fonts and including additional "Redux" inserted cast members.


Alternate Versions

A 289min long workprint version exists. It has never been officially released but circulates as a video bootleg. The bootleg contains the following extra material not included in either the original theatrical release or the "redux" version.

  • A longer opening montage, the entire 10 minute song "The End" by The Doors is heard.It intercuts longer helicopters/jungle images with Willard in the hotel room in a drunken rage, as well as a scene where he is with a prostitute. There are various shots outside depicting the streets of Saigon.
  • When the two soldiers pick up Willard in the hotel room there is a brief conversation while they help him shower and shave. They notify him that his wait for his new mission is now over.
  • The scene where Willard is given his assignment is longer and contains much more dialogue. The general informs Willard that the mission is purely voluntary and he can decline it. The general also offers Willard a promotion to major upon completion of the mission. For some reason Colonel Kurtz is referred to in this scene as "Colonel Leevy". There are some external shots of the military base.
  • A brief scene where Willard is introduced to the crew of the Navy P.B.R.
  • Carmine Coppola's score is not present in this version. Many more songs by The Doors are played throughout the film instead.
  • None of the narration or dossier voiceovers are in this version.
  • There is no audio dubbing in this version. All the audio is from the sound recorded during the actual filming. Much of Robert Duvall's dialogue is unitelligable due to the sound of the helicopters in his scenes.
  • A much longer first cavalry "Ride of Valkyrie" attack scene (30+ mins)showing much unused footage and alternate takes.
  • A much longer playboy bunnies performance.
  • Various extended scenes on the boat, and alternate takes and shots.
  • A scene where a miniature toy boat passes the Navy PBR. Lance tries to grab it out of the water. The Chief yells at him to leave it alone claiming it's a booby trap. To prove it the Chief fires some shots at it to which it explodes.
  • When the P.B.R. reaches Do-lung bridge, the soldier that greets them gives a more detailed explanation of the chaos around the bridge.
  • When Lance is reading his letters on the boat, he suddenly stops to machine gun a water buffalo on the shore. The Chief yells at him to stop.
  • The sequence where Clean is killed is omitted.
  • A slightly longer French plantation sequence. After the French woman strips she crawls into the bed with Willard and they begin kissing.
  • The sequence where the Chief is killed is omitted.
  • More dialogue between Willard and the photojournalist when they first reach the Kurtz compound. The Journalist reveals that it was HE who was able to get the montangnards to break off their attack on the boat in the previous scene. Willard repeatedly asks the Journalists name but he refuses to answer.
  • The character of Colby, (the soldier who was sent before Willard to kill Kurtz, played by Scott Glenn) has a much more substantial role in this version. As Willard inspects the compound, Colby tells Willard that the night before, NVA soldiers had attacked (which explains all the bodies laying about the compound). Willard then enters Kurtz's house, much to the dismay of the journalist. Willard sees Kurtz empty bed and his medals, also his journal with the inscription "Drop the bomb, exterminate them all" (many of these scenes were in the final version but re-inserted in different places).
  • The scene where Willard talks to Chef about the air strike on the boat is omitted.
  • In this version. The first time Kurtz appears is the scene where a mud caked Willard is tied up (seated) to a pole in the rain. Kurtz appears with camouflage face paint, Willard asks...."Why he is being mistreated?" and tries to bluff his way past Kurtz by telling him that he had just completed a secret mission in Cambodia, and only stopped for supplies. Kurtz says nothing to him, but plants Chef's head in his lap. (Only a portion of this scene was in the original version).
  • The scene where Willard meets Kurtz in his bed chamber contains more dialogue....as Kurtz makes it clear that he knows why Willard is there.
  • A scene where Kurtz talks to Willard in the bamboo cage while two children sit on top of the cage and dangle insects in Willard's face. He tells him that Willard is "like his colleagues in Washington, master liars who want to win the war but don't want to appear as immoral or unethical".
  • A lengthy scene where the montangnards in a ritualistic display pick up the bamboo cage (with Willard inside) and poke him with sticks (Lance and Colby participate in this). The natives dance around the bamboo cage, chanting and singing while a squealing pig is tied up and killed.
  • A 10 minute version of the scene where Kurtz reads the poem "The Hollow Men", intercutting between his reading and the journalist talking with Willard.
  • A scene where the journalist meets Willard to tell him that he thinks Kurtz is about to kill him because he took his picture again. During which Colby comes behind the journalist and shoots him three times, killing him. Willard throws a knife at Colby's stomach to which he falls, but before he dies he asks Willard to talk to his family for him and asks him to kill Kurtz.
  • Kurtz speech about the horror and the children vaccination are omitted.
  • During the assassination scene at the end, before Willard enters Kurtz' home, one of the guards confronts him. Willard picks up a spear to defend himself as the guard picks up a child to shield himself. Willard runs the spear right through the child and into the guard. The final scene with Willard and the montangnards after Kurtz assasination are omitted.


Soundtracks

The Ride of the Valkyries
from "Die Walküre"
Composed by
Richard Wagner
Conducted by Georg Solti
Performed by Wiener Philharmoniker (as The Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra)
Courtesy of Decca Record Company Ltd/London Records Inc.

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