top of page
  • Writer's pictureThomas Duncan

Apocalypse Now (1979) Revisit

Original Episode: #7 Apocalypse Now (1979) (released April 9, 2020)

New Episode: #195 Apocalypse Now (1979) Revisit (released December 27, 2023)


  • Francis Ford Coppola, Writer/Director/Music

  • John Milius, Co-Writer

  • Carmine Coppola, Music

  • Marlon Brando as Colonel Walter Kurtz

  • Robert Duvall as Lieutenant Colonel William "Bill" Kilgore

  • Martin Sheen as U.S. Army Captain Benjamin Willard

  • Frederic Forrest as Engineman 3rd Class Jay "Chef" Hicks

  • Albert Hall as Chief Petty Officer George Phillips

  • Sam Bottoms as Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Lance B. Johnson

  • Laurence Fishburne as Gunner's Mate 3rd Class Tyrone "Mr. Clean" Miller

  • Dennis Hopper as an American photojournalist

  • G. D. Spradlin as Lieutenant General R. Corman

  • Jerry Ziesmer as Jerry Moore

  • Harrison Ford as Colonel G. Lucas

  • Scott Glenn as Captain Richard M. Colby


  • Apocalypse Now debuted at the Cannes Film Festival on May 19, 1979 where it won the Palm d'Or despite being unfinished at the time.

  • In the face of an infamously lengthy process in filming and editing that would garner its own documentary, Hearts of Darkness, the film was wide released on August 15, 1979. On a budget of roughly $31 million, Apocalypse Now would go on to gross nearly $86 million to be the #9 grossing film of 1979.

  • Also despite being a widely anticipated film at the time, Apocalypse Now drew rather mixed reviews during its release. However, the film was still nominated for eight Academy Awards including Best Picture, Director (Coppola), and Supporting Actor (Duvall); it went on to win Best Cinematography and Sound.

  • It has since been deemed a classic of the New Hollywood era with many, including Roger Ebert, believing it to be the best Vietnam film ever made.

  • It is on the following lists from the American Film Institute:

    • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies – No. 28

    • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movie Quotes:

    • "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." – No. 12

    • "The horror, the horror." – Nominated

      • AFI's 100 Years...100 Heroes & Villains:

    • Colonel Walter E. Kurtz – Nominated Villain

      • AFI's 100 Years...100 Movies (10th Anniversary Edition) – No. 30

  • In 2006, Writers Guild of America ranked the screenplay, by John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola, the 55th greatest ever.

  • It is number 7 on Empire's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. Empire re-ranked it at #20 in their 2014 list of The 301 Greatest Movies of All Time, and again at #22 on their 2018 list of The 100 Greatest Movies.

  • It was voted No. 66 on the list of "100 Greatest Films" by the prominent French magazine Cahiers du cinéma in 2008. In 2010, The Guardian named Apocalypse Now "the best action and war film of all time".

  • In 2016, The Hollywood Reporter ranked it 11th among 69 winners of the Palme d'Or. The New York Times included it on its Best 1000 Movies Ever list.

  • In 2002, Sight and Sound magazine invited several critics to name the best film of the last 25 years, and Apocalypse Now was named number one. It was also listed as the second-best war film by viewers on Channel 4's 100 Greatest War Films, and was the second-best war movie of all time based on the Movifone list (after Schindler's List) and the IMDb War movie list (after The Longest Day).

  • It is ranked number 1 on Channel 4's 50 Films to See Before You Die. In a 2004 poll of UK film fans, Blockbuster listed Kilgore's eulogy to napalm as the best movie speech. The helicopter attack scene with the Ride of the Valkyries soundtrack was chosen as the most memorable film scene ever by Empire magazine.

  • In 2000, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry.

  • Apocalypse Now currently holds a 98% among critics on RT, a 94 score on Metacritic, and a 4.4/5 on Letterboxd.

Plot Summary: "Apocalypse Now" is a classic Vietnam War film loosely based on Joseph Conrad's novella "Heart of Darkness". Captain Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen) is tasked with a mission to assassinate Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando) who has gone rogue and established his own kingdom deep in the Cambodian jungle. As Willard travels up the Nung River to reach Kurtz's compound, he encounters the surreal and nightmarish aspects of war including the madness and brutality that can consume both soldiers and their leaders.

The film explores themes of the morality of war, the impact of power and insanity, and the blurred lines between civilization and savagery. "Apocalypse Now" is known for its stunning cinematography, powerful performances, and its depiction of the psychological and moral challenges faced by those involved in the Vietnam War.

Did You Know?:

  • The canteen scene with Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore and the wounded Viet Cong is based on an actual wounded VC fighter who fought while keeping his entrails strapped to his belly in an enameled cooking pot. The incident was documented by the photojournalist Philip Jones Griffiths. The real-life U.S. soldier was quoted as saying, "Any soldier who can fight for three days with his insides out can drink from my canteen any time!"

  • Shooting, originally scheduled for six weeks, took 16 months.

  • The United States military refused to lend Francis Ford Coppola any military equipment, due to the order to "kill Colonel Kurtz". Coppola instead had to borrow local military equipment.

  • It took Francis Ford Coppola nearly three years to edit the footage. While working on his final edit, it became apparent to him that Martin Sheen would be needed to tape several additional narrative voice-overs. Coppola soon discovered that Sheen was busy, and unable to perform these voice-overs. He then called in Sheen's brother, Joe Estevez, whose voice sounded nearly identical, to perform the new narrative tracks. Estevez was also used as a stand-in when Sheen suffered a heart attack during the shoot in 1976. However, Estevez was not credited for his work as a stand-in, nor for his voice-over work.

  • Laurence Fishburne was 14 when production began in 1976. He lied about his age, a common practice for men under 18 during American wars.

The Stanley Rubric:

Original Legacy Score: 9

New Legacy Score: 9.5

Original Impact/Significance Score: 9.5

New Impact/Significance Score: 8

Original Novelty Score: 8.5

New Novelty Score: 9.5

Original Classicness Score: 9

New Classicness Score: 8.25

Original Rewatchability Score: 5

New Rewatchability Score: 7.5

Original Audience Score: 9.4 (94% RT)

New Audience Score: 9.25 (89% Google, 94% RT)

Original Total Score: 50.4

New Total Score: 52

In Memorium:

30 views0 comments


bottom of page