1731

Apocalypse Now

1979 Drama

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. more..

Director: Francis Ford Coppola

Starring: Martin Sheen,Marlon Brando,Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest, Larry Fishburne

Reviews

  • One of the great films of all time. It shames modern Hollywood's timidity. To watch it is to feel yourself lifted up to the heights where the cinema can take you, but so rarely does.

    Roger Ebert - The Chicago Sun-Times

    29 November 2012

  • This is the untamed Apocalypse that Coppola envisioned in 1979 before money and mental pressures made him fear he had created something too long, too weird and too morally demanding for the masses.

    Peter Travers - Rolling Stone

    29 November 2012

  • The film now seems both mellowed and --thanks in part to the most vibrant-looking prints in its 22-year history -- revitalized.

    Mike Clark - USA Today

    29 November 2012

  • The best film of 2001 was made in 1979.

    Jay Carr - The Boston Globe

    29 November 2012

  • Remains a majestic explosion of pure cinema. It's a hallucinatory poem of fear, projecting, in its scale and spirit, a messianic vision of human warfare stretched to the flashpoint of technological and moral breakdown.

    Owen Gleiberman - Entertainment Weekly

    29 November 2012

Awards

  • Best Cinematography

    Academy Awards (1980)

  • Best Edited Feature Film

    American Cinema Editors (1980)

     
  • Best Supporting Actor

    American Movie Awards (1980)

  • Best Foreign Language Film

    Awards of the Japanese Academy (1981)

     
  • Best Direction

    BAFTA Awards (1980)