Apocalypse Now

1979 epic war film directed by Francis Ford Coppola / From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic war film produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola. The screenplay, co-written by Coppola, John Milius and Michael Herr, is loosely based on the 1899 novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad, with the setting changed from late 19th-century Congo to the Vietnam War. The film follows a river journey from South Vietnam into Cambodia undertaken by Captain Willard (Martin Sheen), who is on a secret mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando), a renegade Special Forces officer who is accused of murder and presumed insane. The ensemble cast also features Robert Duvall, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne and Dennis Hopper.

Quick facts: Apocalypse Now, Directed by, Written by, Narr...
Apocalypse Now
Theatrical release poster by Bob Peak
Directed byFrancis Coppola
Written by
Narration byMichael Herr
Produced byFrancis Coppola
CinematographyVittorio Storaro
Edited by
Music by
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release dates
  • May 19, 1979 (1979-05-19) (Cannes)[1]
  • August 15, 1979 (1979-08-15) (United States)
Running time
  • 147 minutes (70 mm)
  • 153 minutes (35 mm)[2]
CountryUnited States
Budget$31 million[3]
Box office$100–150 million[4][5]

Milius became interested in adapting Heart of Darkness for a Vietnam War setting in the late 1960s, and initially began developing the film with Coppola as producer and George Lucas as director. After Lucas became unavailable, Coppola took over directorial control, and was influenced by Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972) in his approach to the material. Initially set to be a five-month shoot in the Philippines starting in March 1976, a series of problems lengthened it to over a year. These problems included expensive sets being destroyed by severe weather, Brando showing up on set overweight and completely unprepared, and Sheen having a breakdown and suffering a near-fatal heart attack on location. After photography was finally finished in May 1977, the release was postponed several times while Coppola edited over a million feet of film. Much of these difficulties are chronicled in the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991).

Apocalypse Now was honored with the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered unfinished. When it was finally released on August 15, 1979, by United Artists, it performed well at the box office, grossing $40 million domestically and eventually over $100 million worldwide. Initial reviews were polarizing; while Vittorio Storaro's cinematography was widely acclaimed, several critics found Coppola's handling of the story's major themes anticlimactic and intellectually disappointing. The film was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director (Coppola), and Best Supporting Actor (Duvall); it went on to win Best Cinematography and Best Sound.

Apocalypse Now is today considered one of the greatest films ever made; for instance, it ranked 14th and 19th in Sight & Sound's greatest films poll in 2012 and 2022 respectively.[6] In 2000, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the U.S. Library of Congress as "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".