First Release of Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic war film set during the Vietnam War.

The plot revolves around two US Army special operations officers, one of whom, Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Martin Sheen) of MACV-SOG, is sent into the jungle to assassinate the other, the rogue and presumably insane Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) of Special Forces. The film was produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script by Coppola and John Milius. The script is based on Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness, and also draws elements from Michael Herr's Dispatches, the film version of Conrad's Lord Jim (which shares the same character of Marlow with Heart of Darkness), and Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972).

The film became notorious in the entertainment press due to its lengthy and troubled production, as documented in Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse. Marlon Brando showed up to the set overweight and Martin Sheen suffered a heart attack. The production was also beset by extreme weather that destroyed several expensive sets. In addition, the release date of the film was delayed several times as Coppola struggled to come up with an ending and edit the millions of feet of footage that he had shot.

The film won the Cannes Palme d'Or and was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama.

I love the smell of napalm in the morning”

— Kilgore

What Kurtz learned is that the Viet Cong were willing to go to greater lengths to win: "Then I realized they were stronger than we. They have the strength, the strength to do that. If I had 10 divisions of those men, then our troubles here would be over very quickly. You have to have men who are moral and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling, without passion, without judgment." This is the "horror" that Kurtz has found, and it threatens to envelop Willard, too.

The whole movie is a journey toward Willard's understanding of how Kurtz, one of the Army's best soldiers, penetrated the reality of war to such a depth that he could not look any longer without madness and despair.