Apocalypse Now (1979)

Directed by
Francis Ford Coppola

Francis Ford Coppola's Vietnam War drama earned Vittorio Storaro an Oscar for his vivid colour cinematography. Variety noted his "haunting imagery" and Films Illustrated said "Coppola's command of light, colour and tone is extraordinary. Miraculously, the photography is a continual visual metaphor for the darkness and insanity of his vision."

Coppola and John Milius collaborated on the adaptation of Conrad's Heart of Darkness, turning in a unique examination of the horrors of war. In 1968 Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen, pictured) is summoned to American army headquarters in Nha Trang and ordered to find and "terminate with extreme prejudice" renegade Colonel Walter Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has become deranged, deserted, and set himself up as a brutal dictator-cum-god in Cambodia, where he is fighting his own war with a group of tribesmen. Willard begins his journey travelling up-river in a patrol boat whose crew - Chef, Chief, Clean, Lance (Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Laurence Fishburne and Sam Bottoms) - he regards as "rock and rollers with one foot in the grave."

As the journey progresses, it becomes the vision of Conrad's voyage into darkness. They are attacked by the Viet Cong, Willard joins a helicopter attack on a Viet Cong stronghold, led by Lt Colonel Bill Kilgore (Robert Duvall) in one of the film's most famous scences, and finally, in an almost surreal sequence, passes the last, besieged American outpost to penetrate into Cambodia and Kurtz's compound, where there is grisly evidence of butchery, justified by a neurotic photographer (Dennis Hopper), who has become a member of Brando's band of fanatical followers.

In the film's final sequences, Willard meets the brooding Kurtz, who explains how he came to realise the necessity of acting so mercilessly in war and why "moral terror" is necessary for the preservation of civilization. But Willard is still a man with an order to carry out as well as escaping from the madness that surrounds him.

Written by ,

Genre: Film

Running Time: 155 minutes (approx)

Production Year: 1979

5/5 Stars

Classification: 18 Certificate

Production Country: USA

Filmed in Colour


Image for Martin SheenMartin Sheen...Capt. Benjamin L. Willard
Image for Marlon BrandoMarlon Brando...Col. Walter E. Kurtz
Image for Robert DuvallRobert Duvall...Lt. Col. William 'Bill' Kilgore
Frederic Forrest...Jay Hicks/'Chef'
Albert Hall...Chief Quartermaster Phillips
Sam Bottoms...Lance B. Johnson
Image for Laurence FishburneLaurence Fishburne...'Mr. Clean'
Image for Dennis HopperDennis Hopper...Photo Journalist
G.D. Spradlin...Lt. General R. Corman
Image for Harrison FordHarrison Ford...Col. G. Lucas
Jerry Ziesmer...Civilian
Scott Glenn...Capt. Richard Colby
Bo Byers...MP Sgt.
James Keane...Kilgore's Gunner
Kerry Rossall...Mike from San Diego
Michel Pitton...Philippe de Marais
Franck Villard...Gaston de Marais
David Olivier...Christian de Marais
Chrystel Le Pelletier...Claudine
Vittorio Storaro...TV Photographer