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Apocalypse Now

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Apocalypse Now
Apocalypse Now poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster by Bob Peak
Directed byFrancis Coppola
Produced byFrancis Coppola
Written by
Narration byMichael Herr
Starring
Music by
CinematographyVittorio Storaro
Edited by
Production
company
Distributed byUnited Artists
Release date
  • May 10, 1979 (1979-05-10) (Cannes)
  • August 15, 1979 (1979-08-15) (United States)
Running time
153 minutes[1]
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish
Budget$31.5 million[2]
Box office$150 million[3]

Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic war film directed, produced, and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola. It stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne, and Dennis Hopper. The screenplay, co-written by Coppola and John Milius (who received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay) and featuring narration written by Michael Herr, is an updating of Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness. The setting was changed from late 19th-century Congo to the Vietnam War ca. 1969–70, the years in which Green Beret Colonel Robert Rheault, commander of the 5th Special Forces Group, was indicted for murder and President Richard Nixon authorized the secret Cambodian Campaign. Coppola said that Rheault was an inspiration for the character of Colonel Kurtz.[4][5] The voice-over narration of Willard was written by war correspondent Herr, whose 1977 Vietnam memoir Dispatches brought him to the attention of Coppola.[6] A major influence on the film was Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972), which also features a river journey and an insane soldier.[7] The film revolves around a river journey from South Vietnam into Cambodia undertaken by Captain Benjamin L. Willard (a character based on Conrad's Marlow and played by Sheen), who is on a secret mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz, a renegade Army officer accused of murder who is presumed insane.

The film has been noted for the problems encountered while making it, chronicled in the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991). These problems included Brando arriving on the set overweight and completely unprepared, expensive sets being destroyed by severe weather, and Sheen having a breakdown and suffering a near-fatal heart attack while on location. Problems continued after production as the release was postponed several times while Coppola edited thousands of feet of film.

Apocalypse Now was honored with the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama. Initial reviews were mixed; while Vittorio Storaro's cinematography was widely acclaimed, several critics found Coppola's handling of the story's major themes to be anticlimactic and intellectually disappointing. Reevaluated in subsequent years, Apocalypse Now is today considered to be one of the greatest films ever made. It ranked No. 14 in Sight & Sound's greatest films poll in 2012.[8] In 2000, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".[9]

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Transcription

There are war movies, and then there’s Apocalypse Now. In the late 1970s, Francis Ford Coppola hauled a film crew into the jungles of the Philippines and barely emerged with his sanity intact. And, he emerged with a film that – after two years of work in the editing room – is as much about one soldier’s journey into his own mind, as it is about the American war in Vietnam. It’s an ambitious film that, on its face, shouldn’t work. And yet it does, on so many levels. [Intro Music Plays] Director Francis Ford Coppola was riding a wave of success when he went off into the jungle to make Apocalypse Now. Over the previous seven years he’d made three bona fide classics: The Godfather, The Conversation, and The Godfather: Part II. He’d proven he could tell intensely personal stories with the scope and scale of myths. His fascination with rituals, his daring camerawork, and his ability to put viewers into the heads of his characters had made him very successful. Critically, commercially, and artistically. As the 1970s drew to a close, the major Hollywood studios were being gobbled up by multinational corporations. So executives were becoming more hesitant to gamble on the personal, ambitious visions of filmmakers like William Friedkin, Martin Scorsese, and especially Francis Ford Coppola. Nevertheless, Coppola leveraged all the clout he had, threw in a bunch of his own money, and headed off to the Philippines to make his dream film. He planned to use the Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness as the basis for a story about the American war in Vietnam. Conrad’s book follows its narrator Charles Marlow up the Congo River in search of an enigmatic ivory trader named Kurtz. It’s the tale of Marlow’s growing obsession with Kurtz, as well as a broader critique of colonialism, and especially British imperialism. In Apocalypse Now, an American Army captain named Willard is dispatched by a shadowy group of senior military officers (including Harrison Ford)to find a Colonel Kurtz and kill him. Kurtz, we’re told, has gone insane. He’s surrounded himself with an army of Montagnard troops and fled upriver into Cambodia. When we first meet Willard, played by Martin Sheen, he’s suffering some kind of post-traumatic stress dream in a Saigon hotel. It’s a stunning opening – dissolving from a lush jungle ravaged by napalm, to thumping military helicopters, to Willard’s violent outbursts in the hotel – all scored to “The End” by the Doors. This reveals Willard’s damaged psyche, but also what caused it: the horrors of war. Then, Willard begins his journey upriver, traveling on a Navy patrol boat manned by a motley crew. There’s the earnest captain known as Chief, played by Albert Hall. Sam Bottoms plays the California surf dude Lance. Chef, played by Frederic Forrest, is a saucier from New Orleans who gets wound tighter as the film continues. And a baby-faced Lawrence Fishburne plays Clean, the youngest member of the crew. Together, these guys ferry Willard deeper into Vietnam, encountering everything from a USO show starring Playboy Playmates to a surf-loving, Wagner-playing Air Cavalry officer played with gusto by Robert Duvall. Killgore: If I say it's safe to surf this beach, Captain... It's safe to surf this beach!!! The sights and sounds of their voyage grow increasingly absurd. And the ship’s crew becomes more unbalanced, as they all look for ways to cope with the madness of war. When they finally reach Kurtz’s compound, they discover macabre temples decorated with hanging corpses, heads on spikes, and thousands of silent Montagnard warriors in white paint. With them is a manic American photojournalist played by Dennis Hopper who warns Willard that Kurtz has plans for him. Photojournalist: He's got something in mind for you. Aren't you curious about that? Kurtz himself, played by Marlon Brando, remains an enigma right to the end. Part warrior, part philosopher, and part tormented soul, he’s mostly kept in shadows, looming over Willard. Kurtz: Are my methods unsound? Willard: I don't see... any method... at all, sir. Kurtz beheads Chef before he can call in an airstrike, but keeps Willard alive, reading him poetry and attempting to justify his actions in whispered monologues. Eventually, Willard decides to take action. And as the Montagnards slaughter a water buffalo in an elaborate ceremony, Willard uses the same kind of machete to kill Kurtz. Willard then emerges from the temple to face the warriors, who kneel before him as he takes Lance by the arm and pulls him back to the boat. THE END! Now, the production of Apocalypse Now was in serious trouble from the start. Coppola was behind schedule and over budget almost immediately. He fired his lead actor within the first months of filming. And the replacement, Martin Sheen, was in the midst of his own alcoholic breakdown at the time. Not to mention, he suffered a heart attack in the middle of the shoot. The crew, who was scrambling to keep up with Coppola rewriting the movie as it was being shot, returned to the hotel each night for drug-fueled parties. Much of the military hardware used in the film, including the helicopters of the Air Cavalry Unit, were on loan from the Filipino military. More than once, the real army needed them back to fight their own war. And partway through production, a typhoon struck and wiped out nearly all of the sets and equipment. The stress of it all became so intense that Coppola threatened to commit suicide more than once and even suffered an epileptic seizure. You know, just your average film shoot… Except not. It wasn’t. Like, at all. In the end, Coppola shot an unprecedented one-and-a-half million feet of film, which comes out to about 240 hours of footage. It took a team of four editors more than two years of work to cut the film together, tear it apart, and reconstruct it. War journalist Michael Herr was brought in to co-write Willard’s terse voice over after test audiences couldn’t understand the story. But, after all that, the film finally debuted at the Cannes Film Festival – a year late – and took home the top prize, the Palme d’Or. Apocalypse Now is a movie that emerged out of a really complicated production process. And it’s not a film that’s going to be satisfied with a single interpretation. One way to look at films is through the lens of genre. And the most obvious way to think about Apocalypse Now is as a war movie. But what if we look a little deeper? American scholar B. Ruby Rich makes a compelling case that Coppola’s film actually moves through several different genres as it unfolds. She sees the first part of the film as a western. Willard is our silent, stoic white man, venturing into the wilderness because so-called civilized superiors don’t want to get their hands dirty. Rich writes, “There remaining no frontier for today’s cowboys in the USA, men like Kilgore must turn instead to Vietnam... The eastern bankers and railroad tycoons of yore become here military brass, those shrimp-eating creatures far from [the] action.” In place of Native American warriors fighting to protect their homeland, the American soldiers in Coppola’s film do battle with a largely faceless North Vietnamese army. The military fights with machine guns and napalm, rather than rifles and small pox, but the game plan is the same: slaughter the dehumanized enemy and take their land. This first part of the film even culminates in an actual cavalry charge, led by Robert Duvall’s Kilgore character in his ten-gallon hat. It’s even complete with a real life bugle call. Rich identifies the second section as a traditional war film. And it’s during this section that Willard fires his only gunshot of the whole movie. The patrol crew pulls over a passing Vietnamese sampan, a flat-bottomed wooden boat. In a tense stand off, Chief orders Chef to board the boat to inspect its cargo. Chef: There's nothing on it, man! Chief: Get on it! Chef: Alright!!! Chef finds no contraband, but the stress of the encounter starts to break him. The confrontation escalates until a Vietnamese woman rushes toward Chef. Before it’s clear she’s only worried about a puppy hidden in a basket, Clean opens fire. The high-strung Americans spray the boat with bullets, killing most of the Vietnamese crew, and leaving the woman barely alive. Chief orders her to be brought aboard and sets a course for the nearest field hospital, when Willard fires a single shot with his pistol, killing her. He shows no emotion other than annoyance. His mission is Kurtz, and everything else is a distraction. Rich identifies this as a central turning point for Willard’s character: “Fed up with a code of honor that could massacre a boat and then feed on its remorse, Willard remarks [in voice over] that ... in this moment … he has begun to feel close to the mysterious Kurtz whose fate lies in his hands.” In this scene, Coppola also abandons the special effects, the darkly funny absurdist touches, and the rock-and-roll songs that play under much of the action. Instead, he presents war in direct, unsentimental terms. As senseless, barbaric, and arbitrary. These soldiers aren’t portrayed as heroic, like in some war movies. Instead, they’re weary – losing hope, mental stability, and, in many cases, their lives. But that’s just one way to view the film. Seen through a psychoanalytic lens, Apocalypse Now is the story of one man’s journey into the depths of his own troubled mind, a mind ravaged by war. In this reading, the opening of the film dissolves the boundaries between time and space, as seen from Willard’s damaged point of view. As writer Maruerite Valentine puts it, “Willard’s mind … has lost all capacity to differentiate between the inside of his head, and the external – the room, the hotel, Saigon. Fantasy and reality have become one.” The other characters Willard encounters on his trip up the river, then, can be read as reflections of himself. The boat crew might represent other coping strategies he’s tried while in the military, while Kilgore could be a projection of his war-loving feelings. Even the commanding officers who send him on the mission display the same calculated dispassion that Willard shows through the film. Which means Kurtz could be a reflection of Willard’s psyche too. Kurtz is depicted in mostly darkness, as if seeing him fully would be too much for Willard to handle. And he speaks in whispered, fragmented monologues with unclear meanings. In a way, he’s what Willard could – and maybe does – become: pure ruthlessness, entirely untroubled by morality. This way of looking at a film is fairly common, especially in the Slasher genre. The prolific horror director Wes Craven once posited, “...I even think the characters that are around the hero are elements of an uber personality. And in this sense it’s like a Folk Tale that says, ‘Okay, the part of you that’s going to have sex when something really dangerous is around? That part is gonna be killed off…’” Apocalypse Now’s ending has always divided critics, some of whom believe the movie loses its way in the last half hour. But if we take this psychoanalytic reading to its logical conclusion, the climax makes sense. When Willard gets to the end of his mission, he recognizes himself in Kurtz, and he isn’t sure he can go through with the kill. That hesitance doesn’t make much sense in a western, a war movie, or even a myth. But if the story is of a man trying to root out his worst impulses, to slay the dark, powerful dragon in his own mind, the final moments of the movie fit. Because how do you destroy a piece of yourself, however terrifying it might be? As he’s dying, Kurtz utters his famous last words. Kurtz: The horror… the horror… But maybe he’s not talking about the horrors of Vietnam, or even his own death. Instead, maybe he’s speaking as part of a deeply troubled mind at war with itself, fractured by his particular experience of post traumatic stress. Whether you choose to read Apocalypse Now as an exercise in multi-genre filmmaking, a journey into a damaged mind, or through some other lens, one thing is clear: This is a film that invites multiple interpretations. It’s a bold, messy masterpiece that nearly broke its crew, star, and director. And it remains as relevant today as it did the day it was released...sadly. Next time, we’ll trade the jungle of Vietnam for the Spanish countryside as a little girl unlocks a fantasy world that just might help her escape the brutal aftermath of the Spanish Civil War in Guillermo del Toro’s Pan’s Labyrinth. Crash Course Film Criticism is produced in association with PBS Digital Studios. You can head over to their channel to check out a playlist of their latest amazing shows, like Origin of Everything, Physics Girl, and ACS Reactions. This episode of Crash Course was filmed in the Doctor Cheryl C. Kinney Crash Course Studio with the help of these [nice people] and our amazing graphics team is Thought Cafe.

Contents

Plot

In 1969, during the Vietnam War, United States Army Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz is deemed insane and now commands his own Montagnard troops, inside neutral Cambodia, as a demi-god. Colonel Lucas and General Corman, increasingly concerned with Kurtz's vigilante operations, assign MACV-SOG Captain Benjamin L. Willard to "terminate" Kurtz "with extreme prejudice".

Willard, initially ambivalent, joins a United States Navy river patrol boat (PBR) commanded by Chief, with crewmen Lance, "Chef", and "Mr. Clean" to head upriver. They rendezvous with surfing enthusiast Lieutenant Colonel Bill Kilgore, 1st Cavalry commander, to discuss going up the Nùng. Kilgore scoffs, but befriends Lance after discovering he is a famous surfer and agrees to escort them through the Nùng's Viet Cong–held coastal mouth. They successfully raid at dawn, with Kilgore ordering a napalm strike on the local cadres. Willard gathers his men to the PBR and journeys upriver.

Tension arises as Willard believes himself in command of the PBR while Chief prioritizes other objectives over Willard's. Slowly making their way upriver, Willard reveals his mission partially to the Chief to assuage his concerns about why his mission should proceed. As night falls, the PBR reaches the American Do Lung Bridge outpost on the Nùng River. Willard and Lance enter seeking information for what is upriver. Unable to find the commander, Willard orders the Chief to continue as an unseen enemy launches an assault on the bridge.

The next day, Willard learns from dispatch that another MACV-SOG operative, Captain Colby, who was sent on an earlier mission identical to Willard's, had joined Kurtz.[a] Meanwhile, as the crew read letters from home, Lance activates a smoke grenade, attracting the attention of a camouflaged enemy, and Mr. Clean is killed. Further upriver, Chief is impaled by a spear thrown by the natives and attempts to kill Willard by impaling him. Willard suffocates him, and Lance buries Chief in the river. Willard reveals his mission to Chef, but despite his anger towards the mission, he rejects Willard's offer for him to continue alone and insists that they complete the mission together.

The PBR arrives at Kurtz's outpost and the surviving crew are met by an American freelance photojournalist, who manically praises Kurtz's genius. As they wander through they come across a near-catatonic Colby, along with other US servicemen now in Kurtz's renegade army. Returning to the PBR, Willard later takes Lance with him, leaving Chef behind with orders to call in an airstrike on Kurtz's compound if they do not return. Chef is later killed by Kurtz.

In the camp, Willard is subdued, bound, and brought before Kurtz in a darkened temple. Tortured and imprisoned for several days, Willard is released and allowed to freely roam the compound. Kurtz lectures him on his theories of war, the human condition, and civilization while praising the ruthlessness and dedication of the Viet Cong. Kurtz discusses his family, and asks that Willard tell his son about him after his death.

That night, as the Montagnards ceremonially slaughter a water buffalo, Willard stealthily enters Kurtz's chamber, as he is making a recording, and attacks him with a machete. Mortally wounded, Kurtz utters "...The horror ... the horror ..." and dies. All in the compound see Willard departing, carrying a collection of Kurtz's writings, and bow down to him. Willard then leads Lance to the boat and the duo motor away. Kurtz's final words echo eerily as everything fades to black.

Cast

The performance of Marlon Brando (shown here much earlier in his career) as Colonel Walter E. Kurtz was critically acclaimed.
The performance of Marlon Brando (shown here much earlier in his career) as Colonel Walter E. Kurtz was critically acclaimed.

Adaptation

Although inspired by Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness, the film deviates extensively from its source material. The novella, based on Conrad's experience as a steamboat captain in Africa, is set in the Congo Free State during the 19th century.[13] Kurtz and Marlow (whose corresponding character in the movie is Capt. Willard) work for a Belgian trading company that brutally exploits its native African workers.

After arriving at Kurtz's outpost, Marlow concludes that Kurtz has gone insane and is lording over a small tribe as a god. The novella ends with Kurtz dying on the trip back and the narrator musing about the darkness of the human psyche: "the heart of an immense darkness".

In the novella, Marlow is the pilot of a river boat sent to collect ivory from Kurtz's outpost, only gradually becoming infatuated with Kurtz. In fact, when he discovers Kurtz in terrible health, Marlow makes an effort to bring him home safely. In the film, Willard is an assassin dispatched to kill Kurtz. Nevertheless, the depiction of Kurtz as a god-like leader of a tribe of natives and his malarial fever, Kurtz's written exclamation "Exterminate all the brutes!" (which appears in the film as "Drop the bomb. Exterminate them all!") and his last words "The horror! The horror!" are taken from Conrad's novella.

Coppola argues that many episodes in the film—the spear and arrow attack on the boat, for example—respect the spirit of the novella and in particular its critique of the concepts of civilization and progress. Other episodes adapted by Coppola, the Playboy Playmates' (Sirens) exit, the lost souls, "take me home" attempting to reach the boat and Kurtz's tribe of (white-faced) natives parting the canoes (gates of Hell) for Willard, (with Chef and Lance) to enter the camp are likened to Virgil and "The Inferno" (Divine Comedy) by Dante. While Coppola replaced European colonialism with American interventionism, the message of Conrad's book is still clear.[14]

Coppola's interpretation of the Kurtz character is often speculated to have been modeled after Tony Poe, a highly decorated Vietnam-era paramilitary officer from the CIA's Special Activities Division.[15] Poe's actions in Vietnam and in the 'Secret War' in neighbouring Laos, in particular his highly unorthodox and often savage methods of waging war, show many similarities to those of the fictional Kurtz; for example, Poe was known to drop severed heads into enemy-controlled villages as a form of psychological warfare and use human ears to record the number of enemies his indigenous troops had killed. He would send these ears back to his superiors as proof of the efficacy of his operations deep inside Laos.[16][17] Coppola denies that Poe was a primary influence and says the character was loosely based on Special Forces Colonel Robert B. Rheault, who was the actual head of 5th Special Forces Group (May to July 1969), and whose 1969 arrest over the murder of suspected double agent Thai Khac Chuyen in Nha Trang generated substantial contemporary news coverage, in the Green Beret Affair,[18] including making public the phrase "terminate with extreme prejudice",[19] which was used prominently in the movie.

Use of T. S. Eliot's poetry

In the film, shortly before Colonel Kurtz dies, he recites part of T. S. Eliot's poem "The Hollow Men". The poem is preceded in printed editions by the epigraph "Mistah Kurtz – he dead", a quotation from Conrad's Heart of Darkness.

Two books seen opened on Kurtz's desk in the film are From Ritual to Romance by Jessie Weston and The Golden Bough by Sir James Frazer, the two books that Eliot cited as the chief sources and inspiration for his poem "The Waste Land". Eliot's original epigraph for "The Waste Land" was this passage from Heart of Darkness, which ends with Kurtz's final words:[20]

Did he live his life again in every detail of desire, temptation, and surrender during that supreme moment of complete knowledge? He cried in a whisper at some image, at some vision, – he cried out twice, a cry that was no more than a breath –

"The horror! The horror!"

When Willard is first introduced to Dennis Hopper's character, the photojournalist describes his own worth in relation to that of Kurtz with: "I should have been a pair of ragged claws/Scuttling across the floors of silent seas", from "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock".

Production

Development

While working as an assistant for Francis Ford Coppola on The Rain People, George Lucas and Steven Spielberg encouraged their friend and filmmaker John Milius to write a Vietnam War film.[21] Milius had wanted to volunteer for the war, and was disappointed when he was rejected for having asthma.[22] Milius came up with the idea for adapting the plot of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness to the Vietnam War setting. He had read the novel when he was a teenager and was reminded about it by one of his college lecturers who had mentioned the several unsuccessful attempts to adapt it into a movie.[23][b]

Coppola gave Milius $15,000 to write the screenplay with the promise of an additional $10,000 if it were green-lit.[24][25] Milius claims that he wrote the screenplay in 1969[23] and originally called it The Psychedelic Soldier.[26] He wanted to use Conrad's novel as "a sort of allegory. It would have been too simple to have followed the book completely."[24]

Milius based the character of Willard and some of Kurtz's on a friend of his, Fred Rexer. Rexer claimed to have experienced, first-hand, the scene related by Brando's character wherein the arms of villagers are hacked off by the Viet Cong. Kurtz was based on Robert B. Rheault, head of special forces in Vietnam.[27] Scholars have never found any evidence to corroborate Rexer's claim, nor any similar Viet Cong behavior, and consider it an urban legend.[28][29]

At one point, Coppola told Milius, "Write every scene you ever wanted to go into that movie",[23] and he wrote ten drafts, amounting to over a thousand pages.[30] Milius changed the film's title to Apocalypse Now after being inspired by a button badge popular with hippies during the 1960s that said "Nirvana Now". He was influenced by an article written by Michael Herr titled, "The Battle for Khe Sanh", which referred to drugs, rock 'n' roll, and people calling airstrikes down on themselves.[23] He was also inspired by such films as Dr Strangelove.

Milius says the classic line "Charlie don't surf" was inspired by a comment Ariel Sharon made during the Six-Day War, when he went skin diving after capturing enemy territory and announced "We're eating their fish". He says the line "I love the smell of napalm in the morning" just came to him.[31]

Milius had no desire to direct the film himself and felt that Lucas was the right person for the job.[23] Lucas worked with Milius for four years developing the film, alongside his work on other films, including his script for Star Wars.[32] He approached Apocalypse Now as a black comedy,[33] and intended to shoot the film after making THX 1138, with principal photography to start in 1971.[24] Lucas's friend and producer Gary Kurtz traveled to the Philippines, scouting suitable locations. They intended to shoot the film in both the rice fields between Stockton and Sacramento, California, and on-location in Vietnam, on a $2 million budget, cinéma vérité style, using 16 mm cameras, and real soldiers, while the war was still going on.[23][32][34] However, due to the studios' safety concerns and Lucas's involvement with American Graffiti and Star Wars, Lucas decided to shelve the project for the time being.[24][32]

Originally, Coppola wanted the film to be a special event by having it play in exactly one theater somewhere in Kansas in the geographical center of the country, built especially for the film, with a specially-made sound system, where the film would run continuously for ten years, and then hopefully anybody who wanted to show the film in their theaters would have to approach Coppola and exhibit it on his terms.[35]

Pre-production

Coppola was drawn to Milius's script, which he described as "a comedy and a terrifying psychological horror story".[36] In the spring of 1974, Coppola discussed with friends and co-producers Fred Roos and Gray Frederickson the idea of producing the film.[37] He asked Lucas and then Milius to direct Apocalypse Now, but both men were involved with other projects;[37] in Lucas's case, he got the go-ahead to make Star Wars, and declined the offer to direct Apocalypse Now.[23] Coppola was determined to make the film and pressed ahead himself. He envisioned the film as a definitive statement on the nature of modern war, the difference between good and evil, and the impact of American society on the rest of the world. The director said that he wanted to take the audience "through an unprecedented experience of war and have them react as much as those who had gone through the war".[36]

In 1975, while promoting The Godfather Part II in Australia, Coppola and his producers scouted possible locations for Apocalypse Now in Cairns in northern Queensland, that had jungle resembling Vietnam.[38] He decided to make his film in the Philippines for its access to American equipment and cheap labor. Production coordinator Fred Roos had already made two low-budget films there for Monte Hellman, and had friends and contacts in the country.[36] Coppola spent the last few months of 1975 revising Milius's script and negotiating with United Artists to secure financing for the production. According to Frederickson, the budget was estimated between $12 and 14 million.[39] Coppola's American Zoetrope assembled $8 million from distributors outside the United States and $7.5 million from United Artists who assumed that the film would star Marlon Brando, Steve McQueen, and Gene Hackman.[36] Frederickson went to the Philippines and had dinner with President Ferdinand Marcos to formalize support for the production and to allow them to use some of the country's military equipment.[40]

Casting

Steve McQueen was Coppola's first choice to play Willard, but the actor did not accept because he did not want to leave America for 17 weeks. Al Pacino was also offered the role but he too did not want to be away for that long a period of time and was afraid of falling ill in the jungle as he had done in the Dominican Republic during the shooting of The Godfather Part II.[36] Jack Nicholson, Robert Redford, and James Caan were approached to play either Kurtz or Willard.[34] Tommy Lee Jones, Keith Carradine, Nick Nolte, and Frederic Forrest were also considered for the role of Willard.[41]

In a 2015 The Hollywood Reporter interview, Clint Eastwood revealed that Coppola offered him the role of Willard, but much like McQueen and Pacino, didn't want to be away from America for a long time. Eastwood also revealed that McQueen tried to convince him to play Willard while he would play Kurtz because he would only have to work for two weeks.[42]

Coppola and Roos had been impressed by Martin Sheen's screen test for Michael in The Godfather and he became their top choice to play Willard, but the actor had already accepted another project and Harvey Keitel was cast in the role based on his work in Martin Scorsese's Mean Streets.[43] Principal photography began three weeks later. Within a few days, Coppola was unhappy with Harvey Keitel's take on Willard, saying that the actor "found it difficult to play him as a passive onlooker".[34] After viewing early footage, the director took a plane back to Los Angeles and replaced Keitel with Martin Sheen. By early 1976, Coppola had persuaded Marlon Brando to play Kurtz for an enormous fee of $3.5 million for a month's work on location in September 1976. Dennis Hopper was cast as a war correspondent and observer of Kurtz; when Coppola heard Hopper talking nonstop on location, he remembered putting "the cameras and the Montagnard shirt on him, and [shooting] the scene where he greets them on the boat".[34] James Caan was the first choice to play Colonel Lucas. Caan wanted too much money for what was considered a minor part in the movie, and Harrison Ford was eventually cast instead.

Principal photography

On March 1, 1976, Coppola and his family flew to Manila and rented a large house there for the five-month shoot.[34] Sound and photographic equipment had been coming in from California since late 1975.

Typhoon Olga wrecked the sets at Iba and on May 26, 1976, production was closed down. Dean Tavoularis remembers that it "started raining harder and harder until finally it was literally white outside, and all the trees were bent at forty-five degrees". One part of the crew was stranded in a hotel and the others were in small houses that were immobilized by the storm. The Playboy Playmate set had been destroyed, ruining a month's shooting that had been scheduled. Most of the cast and crew went back to the United States for six to eight weeks. Tavoularis and his team stayed on to scout new locations and rebuild the Playmate set in a different place. Also, the production had bodyguards watching constantly at night and one day the entire payroll was stolen. According to Coppola's wife, Eleanor, the film was six weeks behind schedule and $2 million over budget;[44] he had to offer his car, house, and The Godfather profits as security to finish the film.[45]

Coppola flew back to the U.S. in June 1976. He read a book about Genghis Khan to get a better handle on the character of Kurtz.[44] After filming commenced, Marlon Brando arrived in Manila very overweight and began working with Coppola to rewrite the ending. The director downplayed Brando's weight by dressing him in black, photographing only his face, and having another, taller actor double for him in an attempt to portray Kurtz as an almost mythical character.[46]

After Christmas 1976, Coppola viewed a rough assembly of the footage but still needed to improvise an ending. He returned to the Philippines in early 1977 and resumed filming.[46] On March 5, 1977, Sheen had a heart attack and struggled for a quarter of a mile to reach help. By that time, the film was already so over-budget, even he worried funding would be halted if word about his condition were to reach the investors, and claimed he suffered heat stroke instead. He was back on the set on April 19. A major sequence in a French plantation cost hundreds of thousands of dollars but was cut from the final film. Rumors began to circulate that Apocalypse Now had several endings but Richard Beggs, who worked on the sound elements, said, "There were never five endings, but just the one, even if there were differently edited versions". These rumors came from Coppola departing frequently from the original screenplay. Coppola admitted that he had no ending because Brando was too fat to play the scenes as written in the original script[citation needed]. With the help of Dennis Jakob, Coppola decided that the ending could be "the classic myth of the murderer who gets up the river, kills the king, and then himself becomes the king – it's the Fisher King, from The Golden Bough".[47]

A water buffalo was slaughtered with a machete for the climactic scene. The scene was inspired by a ritual performed by a local Ifugao tribe which Coppola had witnessed along with his wife (who filmed the ritual later shown in the documentary Hearts of Darkness) and film crew. Although this was an American production subject to American animal cruelty laws, scenes like this filmed in the Philippines were not policed or monitored and the American Humane Association gave the film an "unacceptable" rating.[48] The budget remained a problem; after Star Wars became a gigantic hit, Coppola sent a telegram to George Lucas asking for money.[49] Principal photography ended on May 21, 1977.[50]

Post-production and audio

Japanese composer Isao Tomita was scheduled to provide an original score, with Coppola desiring the film's soundtrack to sound like Tomita's electronic adaptation of The Planets by Gustav Holst. Tomita went as far as to accompany the film crew in the Philippines, but label contracts ultimately prevented his involvement.[51] In the summer of 1977, Coppola told Walter Murch that he had four months to assemble the sound. Murch realized that the script had been narrated but Coppola abandoned the idea during filming.[50] Murch thought that there was a way to assemble the film without narration but it would take ten months and decided to give it another try.[52] He put it back in, recording it all himself. By September, Coppola told his wife that he felt "there is only about a 20% chance [I] can pull the film off".[53] He convinced United Artists executives to delay the premiere from May to October 1978. Author Michael Herr received a call from Zoetrope in January 1978 and was asked to work on the film's narration based on his well-received book about Vietnam, Dispatches.[53] Herr said that the narration already written was "totally useless" and spent a year writing various narrations with Coppola giving him very definite guidelines.[53]

Murch had problems trying to make a stereo soundtrack for Apocalypse Now because sound libraries had no stereo recordings of weapons. The sound material brought back from the Philippines was inadequate, because the small location crew lacked the time and resources to record jungle sounds and ambient noises. Murch and his crew fabricated the mood of the jungle on the soundtrack. Apocalypse Now had novel sound techniques for a movie, as Murch insisted on recording the most up-to-date gunfire and employed the Dolby Stereo 70 mm Six Track system for the 70mm release. This used two channels of sound from behind the audience as well as three channels of sound from behind the movie screen.[53] The 35mm release used the new Dolby Stereo optical stereo system, but due to the limitations of the technology at the time, this 35mm release that played in the majority of theaters did not include any surround sound.[54]

In May 1978, Coppola postponed the opening until spring of 1979 and screened a "work in progress" for 900 people in April 1979 that was not well received.[55] That same year, he was invited to screen Apocalypse Now at the Cannes Film Festival.[56] United Artists were not keen on showing an unfinished version in front of so many members of the press. Since his 1974 film The Conversation won the Palme d'Or, Coppola agreed to screen Apocalypse Now with only a month before the festival. The week prior to Cannes, Coppola arranged three sneak previews of slightly different versions. He allowed critics to attend the screenings and believed that they would honor the embargo placed on reviews. On 14 May, Rona Barrett reviewed the film on television and called it "a disappointing failure".[56] At Cannes, Zoetrope technicians worked during the night before the screening to install additional speakers on the theater walls, to achieve Murch's 5.1 soundtrack.[56] On August 15, 1979 Apocalypse Now was released in the U.S. in only 15 theaters equipped to play the Dolby Stereo 70mm prints with stereo surround sound.[57]

Other versions

Alternative and varied endings

At the time of its release, discussion and rumors circulated about the supposed various endings for Apocalypse Now. Coppola said the original ending was written in haste, where Kurtz convinced Willard to join forces and together they repelled the air strike on the compound. Coppola said he never fully agreed with the Kurtz and Willard dying in fatalistic explosive intensity, preferring to end the film in a more encouraging manner.

When Coppola originally organized the ending, he considered two significantly different ends to the movie. One involved Willard leading Lance by the hand as everyone in Kurtz's base throws down their weapons, and ends with images of Willard piloting the PBR slowly away from Kurtz's compound, this final scene superimposed over the face of a stone idol, which then fades into black. The other option showed an air strike being called and the base being blown to bits in a spectacular display, consequently killing everyone left within it.

The original 1979 70mm exclusive theatrical release ended with Willard's boat, the stone statue, then fade to black with no credits, save for '"Copyright 1979 Omni Zoetrope"' right after the film ends. This mirrors the lack of any opening titles and supposedly stems from Coppola's original intention to "tour" the film as one would a play: the credits would have appeared on printed programs provided before the screening began.[58]

There have been, to date, many variations of the end credit sequence, beginning with the 35mm general release version, where Coppola elected to show the credits superimposed over shots of the jungle exploding into flames.[58] Rental prints circulated with this ending, and can be found in the hands of a few collectors. Some versions of this had the subtitle "A United Artists release", while others had "An Omni Zoetrope release". The network television version of the credits ended with "...from MGM/UA Entertainment Company" (the film made its network debut shortly after the merger of MGM and UA). One variation of the end credits can be seen on both YouTube and as a supplement on the current Lionsgate Blu-ray.

Later when Coppola heard that audiences interpreted this as an air strike called by Willard, Coppola pulled the film from its 35 mm run and put credits on a black screen. However, the "air strike" footage continued to circulate in repertory theaters well into the 1980s, and it was included in the 1980s LaserDisc release. In the DVD commentary, Coppola explains that the images of explosions had not been intended to be part of the story; they were intended to be seen as completely separate from the film. He had added the explosions to the credits as a graphic background to the credits.[59]

Coppola explained he had captured the now-iconic footage during demolition of the sets (set destruction and removal was required by the Philippine government). Coppola filmed the demolition with multiple cameras fitted with different film stocks and lenses to capture the explosions at different speeds. He wanted to do something with the dramatic footage and decided to add them to the credits.[60]

Apocalypse Now Redux

In 2001, Coppola released Apocalypse Now Redux in cinemas and subsequently on DVD. This is an extended version that restores 49 minutes of scenes cut from the original film. Coppola has continued to circulate the original version as well: the two versions are packaged together in the Complete Dossier DVD, released on August 15, 2006 and in the Blu-ray edition released on October 19, 2010.

The longest section of added footage in the Redux version is a chapter involving the de Marais family's rubber plantation, a holdover from the colonization of French Indochina, featuring Coppola's two sons Gian-Carlo and Roman as children of the family. Around the dinner table, a young French child recites a poem by Charles Baudelaire entitled L'Albatros. The French family patriarch is not satisfied with the child's recitation. The child is sent away. These scenes were removed from the 1979 cut, which premiered at Cannes. In behind-the-scenes footage in Hearts of Darkness, Coppola expresses his anger, on the set, at the technical limitations of the shot scenes, the result of tight allocation of resources. At the time of the Redux version, it was possible to digitally enhance the footage to accomplish Coppola's vision. In the scenes, the French family patriarchs argue about the positive side of colonialism in Indochina and denounce the betrayal of the military men in the First Indochina War. Hubert de Marais argues that French politicians sacrificed entire battalions at Điện Biên Phủ, and tells Willard that the US created the Viet Cong (as the Viet Minh) to fend off Japanese invaders.

Other added material includes extra combat footage before Willard meets Kilgore, a humorous scene in which Willard's team steals Kilgore's surfboard (which sheds some light on the hunt for the mangoes), a follow-up scene to the dance of the Playboy Playmates, in which Willard's team finds the Playmates awaiting evacuation after their helicopter has run out of fuel (trading two barrels of fuel for two hours with the Bunnies), and a scene of Kurtz reading from a Time magazine article about the war, surrounded by Cambodian children.

A deleted scene titled "Monkey Sampan" shows Willard and the PBR crew suspiciously eyeing an approaching sampan juxtaposed to Montagnard villagers joyfully singing "Light My Fire" by The Doors. As the sampan gets closer, Willard realizes there are monkeys on it and no helmsman. Finally, just as the two boats pass, the wind turns the sail and exposes a naked dead civilian tied to the sail boom. His body is mutilated and looks as though the man had been whipped. The singing stops. It is assumed the man was tortured by the Viet Cong. As they pass on by, Chief notes out loud, "That's comin' from where we're going, Captain." The boat then slowly passes the giant tail of a shot down B-52 bomber as the noise of engines high in the sky is heard. Coppola said that he made up for cutting this scene by having the PBR pass under an airplane tail in the final cut.

Workprint version

A 289-minute workprint circulates as a video bootleg, containing extra material not included in either the original theatrical release or the "redux" version.[61]

Reception

Cannes screening

The 1979 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or was awarded to Apocalypse Now.
The 1979 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or was awarded to Apocalypse Now.

A three-hour version of Apocalypse Now was screened as a "work in progress" at the 1979 Cannes Film Festival and met with prolonged applause.[62] At the subsequent press conference, Coppola criticized the media for attacking him and the production during their problems filming in the Philippines and said, "We had access to too much money, too much equipment, and little by little we went insane", and "My film is not about Vietnam, it is Vietnam".[62] The filmmaker upset newspaper critic Rex Reed who reportedly stormed out of the conference. Apocalypse Now won the Palme d'Or for best film along with Volker Schlöndorff's The Tin Drum – a decision that was reportedly greeted with "some boos and jeers from the audience".[63]

Box office

Apocalypse Now performed well at the box office when it opened in August 1979.[62] The film initially opened in one theater in New York City, Toronto, and Hollywood, grossing USD $322,489 in the first five days. It ran exclusively in these three locations for four weeks before opening in an additional 12 theaters on October 3, 1979 and then several hundred the following week.[64] The film grossed over $78 million domestically with a worldwide total of approximately $150 million.[58]

The film was re-released on August 28, 1987 in six cities to capitalize on the success of Platoon, Full Metal Jacket, and other Vietnam War movies. New 70mm prints were shown in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Jose, Seattle, St. Louis, and Cincinnati – cities where the film did financially well in 1979. The film was given the same kind of release as the exclusive engagement in 1979, with no logo or credits and audiences were given a printed program.[45]

Critical response

Upon its release, Apocalypse Now received mixed reviews.[65][66][67] In his original review, Roger Ebert wrote, "Apocalypse Now achieves greatness not by analyzing our 'experience in Vietnam', but by re-creating, in characters and images, something of that experience".[68] In his review for the Los Angeles Times, Charles Champlin wrote, "as a noble use of the medium and as a tireless expression of national anguish, it towers over everything that has been attempted by an American filmmaker in a very long time".[64]

Other reviews were less positive; Frank Rich in Time said: "While much of the footage is breathtaking, Apocalypse Now is emotionally obtuse and intellectually empty".[69] Vincent Canby argued, "Mr. Coppola himself describes it as "operatic," but ... Apocalypse Now is neither a tone poem nor an opera. It's an adventure yarn with delusions of grandeur, a movie that ends—in the all-too-familiar words of the poet Mr. Coppola drags in by the bootstraps—not with a bang, but a whimper."[70]

Ebert added Coppola's film to his list of The Great Movies, stating: "Apocalypse Now is the best Vietnam film, one of the greatest of all films, because it pushes beyond the others, into the dark places of the soul. It is not about war so much as about how war reveals truths we would be happy never to discover".[71]

Various commentators have debated whether Apocalypse Now is an anti-war or pro-war film. Some commentators' evidence of the film's anti-war message include the purposeless brutality of the war, the absence of military leadership, and the imagery of machinery destroying nature.[72] Advocates of the film's pro-war stance, however, view these same elements as a glorification of war and the assertion of American supremacy. According to Frank Tomasulo, "the U.S. foisting its culture on Vietnam," including the destruction of a village so that soldiers could surf, affirms the film's pro-war message.[72] Additionally, the author Anthony Swofford recounted how his marine platoon watched Apocalypse Now before being sent to Iraq in 1990 in order to get excited for war.[73] Nidesh Lawtoo illustrates the pro-war/anti-war tendencies of the film by focusing on the contradictory responses the movie in general and the "Ride of the Valkyries" scene in particular triggered in a university classroom.[74] According to Coppola, the film may be considered anti-war, but is even more anti-lie: "...the fact that a culture can lie about what's really going on in warfare, that people are being brutalized, tortured, maimed, and killed, and somehow present this as moral is what horrifies me, and perpetuates the possibility of war".[75]

In May 2011, a newly restored digital print of Apocalypse Now was released in UK cinemas, distributed by Optimum Releasing. Total Film magazine gave the film a five-star review, stating: "This is the original cut rather than the 2001 'Redux' (be gone, jarring French plantation interlude!), digitally restored to such heights you can, indeed, get a nose full of the napalm."[76]

Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a "Certified Fresh" rating of 96% based on 84 reviews, with an average rating of 8.9/10. The website's critical consensus states that "Francis Ford Coppola's haunting, hallucinatory Vietnam war epic is cinema at its most audacious and visionary".[77]

Legacy

May 1, 2010 cover of the Economist newspaper, illustrating the 2010 European sovereign debt crisis with imagery from the movie, attests to the film's pervasive cultural impact.
May 1, 2010 cover of the Economist newspaper, illustrating the 2010 European sovereign debt crisis with imagery from the movie, attests to the film's pervasive cultural impact.

Today, the movie is regarded by many as a masterpiece of the New Hollywood era. Roger Ebert considered it to be the finest film on the Vietnam war and included it on his list for the 2002 Sight & Sound poll for the greatest movie of all time.[78][79] It is on the American Film Institute's 100 Years...100 Movies list at number 28, but it dropped two to number 30 on their 10th anniversary list. Kilgore's quote, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning," written by Milius, was number 12 on the AFI's 100 Years ... 100 Movie Quotes list and was also voted the greatest movie speech of all time in a 2004 poll.[80] It is listed at number 7 on Empire's 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time.[81] Entertainment Weekly ranked Apocalypse Now as having one of the "10 Best Surfing Scenes" in cinema.[82]

In 2002, Sight and Sound magazine polled 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 rated 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.[83] The helicopter attack scene with the Ride of the Valkyries soundtrack was chosen as the most memorable film scene ever by Empire magazine (this same piece of music was also used in 1915 to similar effect to accompany The Birth of a Nation). This scene is recalled in one of the last acts of the 2012 video game Far Cry 3 as the song is played while the character shoots from a helicopter.[84] It was likewise adapted for the Cat's Eye anime episode "From Runan Island with Love" and the Battle of Italica scene in Gate: Jieitai Kano Chi nite, Kaku Tatakaeri.

In 2009, the London Film Critics' Circle voted Apocalypse Now the best film of the last 30 years.[85]

In August 2009, the head of the German Financial Regulator told the Bundestag Finance Committee that the failure of the "terrible" Depfa Bank, which was completely supervised by its Irish equivalent, led to the collapse of its German parent which forced Berlin to bail it out at a cost of €102 billion. The committee was told that the alternative was a run on German banks and the eventual collapse of the European finance system and "You would have woken up on Monday morning in the film Apocalypse Now".[86]

In 2011, actor Charlie Sheen, son of Martin Sheen, started playing clips from the film on his live tour and played the film in its entirety during post-show parties. One of Charlie Sheen's films, the 1993 comedy Hot Shots! Part Deux, includes a brief scene in which Charlie is riding a boat up a river in Iraq while on a rescue mission and passes Martin, as Captain Willard, going the other way. As they pass, each man shouts to the other "I loved you in Wall Street!", referring to the 1987 film that had featured both of them. Additionally, the promotional material for Hot Shots! Part Deux included a mockumentary that aired on HBO titled Hearts of Hot Shots! Part Deux—A Filmmaker's Apology, in parody of the 1991 documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, about the making of Apocalypse Now.[87]

On January 25, 2017, Coppola announced that he was seeking funding through Kickstarter for a horror role-playing video game based on Apocalypse Now.[88] The game has since been cancelled by Montgomery Markland (the game's director), as revealed on the official game Tumblr.[89]

Simulacra and Simulation

French theorist Jean Baudrillard dedicated a chapter to Apocalypse Now in his 1981 treatise Simulacra and Simulation. Baudrillard accuses the Vietnam War, a non-event, of having become "film" and Coppola of having made the Vietnam War an actual event and a victory through the film Apocalypse Now:

Coppola makes his film like the Americans made war — in this sense, it is the best possible testimonial — with the same immoderation, the same excess of means, the same monstrous candor ... and the same success. The war as entrenchment, as technological and psychedelic fantasy, the war as a succession of special effects, the war become film even before being filmed ... In this sense, his film is really the extension of the war through other means, the pinnacle of this failed war, and its apotheosis. The war became film, the film becomes war, the two are joined by their common hemorrhage into technology ... The real war is waged by Coppola as it is by Westmoreland: without counting the inspired irony of having forests and Philippine villages napalmed to retrace the hell of South Vietnam ... Coppola can certainly deck out his helicopter captain in a ridiculous hat of the light cavalry, and make him crush the Vietnamese village to the sound of Wagner's music — those are not critical, distant signs, they are immersed in the machinery, they are part of the special effect, and he himself makes movies in the same way [as Wagner], with the same retro megalomania, and the same non-signifying furor, with the same clownish effect in overdrive.

[I]f the Americans (seemingly) lost the other [war], they certainly won this one. Apocalypse Now is a global victory. Cinematographic power equal and superior to that of the industrial and military complexes, equal or superior to that of the Pentagon and of governments.[90]

Awards and honors

Awards and Nominations received by Apocalypse Now
Award Category Nominee Result
52nd Academy Awards[91] Best Picture Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Roos, Gray Frederickson, and Tom Sternberg Nominated
Best Director Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
Best Actor in a Supporting Role Robert Duvall Nominated
Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
Best Sound Walter Murch, Mark Berger, Richard Beggs, and Nat Boxer Won
Best Art Direction Art Direction: Dean Tavoularis and Angelo P. Graham; Set Decoration: George R. Nelson Nominated
Best Cinematography Vittorio Storaro Won
Best Film Editing Richard Marks, Walter Murch, Gerald B. Greenberg and Lisa Fruchtman Nominated
1979 Cannes Film Festival[92] Palme d'Or Won
1st American Movie Awards Best Actor Martin Sheen Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Robert Duvall Won
33rd British Academy Film Awards Best Film Nominated
Best Actor Martin Sheen Nominated
Best Supporting Actor Robert Duvall Won
Best Direction Francis Ford Coppola Won
Best Original Film Music Carmine Coppola and Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
Best Cinematography Vittorio Storaro Nominated
Best Editing Richard Marks, Walter Murch, Gerald B. Greenberg, and Lisa Fruchtman Nominated
Best Production Design Dean Tavoularis Nominated
Best Soundtrack Nathan Boxer, Richard Cirincione, Walter Murch Nominated
5th César Awards Best Foreign Film (Meilleur film étranger) Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
David di Donatello Awards Best Foreign Director (Migliore Regista Straniero) Francis Ford Coppola Won
32nd Directors Guild of America Awards Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
37th Golden Globe Awards Best Motion Picture – Drama Francis Ford Coppola, Fred Roos, Gray Frederickson, and Tom Sternberg Nominated
Best Director Francis Ford Coppola Won
Best Supporting Actor Robert Duvall Won
Best Original Score Carmine Coppola and Francis Ford Coppola Won
22nd Annual Grammy Awards Best Original Score Written for a Motion Picture Carmine Coppola and Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
1979 National Society of Film Critics Awards Best Supporting Actor Frederic Forrest Won
Writers Guild of America Awards Best Drama Written Directly for the Screen John Milius and Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
American Film Institute lists

Home video releases

The first home video releases of Apocalypse Now were pan-and-scan versions of the original 35 mm Technovision anamorphic 2.35:1 print, and the closing credits, white on black background, were presented in compressed 1.33:1 full-frame format to allow all credit information to be seen on standard televisions. The first letterboxed appearance, on Laserdisc on December 29, 1991, cropped the film to a 2:1 aspect ratio (conforming to the Univisium spec created by cinematographer Vittorio Storaro), and included a small degree of pan-and-scan processing at the insistence of Coppola and Storaro. The end credits, from a videotape source rather than a film print, were still crushed for 1.33:1 and zoomed to fit the anamorphic video frame. All DVD releases have maintained this aspect ratio in anamorphic widescreen, but present the film without the end credits, which were treated as a separate feature. The Blu-ray releases of Apocalypse Now restore the film to a 2.35:1 aspect ratio, making it the first home video release to display the film in its theatrical aspect ratio of 2.39:1.

As a DVD extra, the footage of the explosion of the Kurtz compound was featured without text credits but included commentary by Coppola, explaining the various endings based on how the film was screened.

On the cover of the Redux DVD, Willard is erroneously listed as "Lieutenant Willard".

Documentaries

Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (American Zoetrope/Cineplex Odeon Films) (1991) Directed by Eleanor Coppola, George Hickenlooper, and Fax Bahr

Apocalypse Now – The Complete Dossier DVD (Paramount Home Entertainment) (2006). Disc 2 extras include:

  • The Post Production of Apocalypse Now: Documentary (four featurettes covering the editing, music, and sound of the film through Coppola and his team)
    • "A Million Feet of Film: The Editing of Apocalypse Now" (18 minutes). Written and directed by Kim Aubry.
    • "The Music of Apocalypse Now" (15 minutes)
    • "Heard Any Good Movies Lately? The Sound Design of Apocalypse Now" (15 minutes)
    • "The Final Mix" (3 minutes)

See also

Further reading

  • Coppola's Monster Film: The Making of Apocalypse Now by Steven Travers, McFarland 2016, ISBN 978-1476664255

References

Informational notes

  1. ^ A few days before Willard received this dispatch, Chief had told him that about six months prior to Willard's mission, Chief had taken another man north of the Do Long Bridge. Chief had heard this man shot himself in the head.
  2. ^ However, filmmaker Carroll Ballard claims that Apocalypse Now was his idea in 1967 before Milius had written his screenplay. Ballard had a deal with producer Joel Landon and they tried to get the rights to Conrad's book but were unsuccessful. Lucas acquired the rights but failed to tell Ballard and Landon.[23]

Citations

  1. ^ "Apocalypse Now". British Board of Film Classification. Retrieved December 20, 2014.
  2. ^ "Apocalypse Now (1979) – Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved December 3, 2014.
  3. ^ Cowie 1990, p. 132.
  4. ^ Schudel, Matt (26 October 2013). "Robert B. Rheault, Green Beret commander in Vietnam scandal, dies at 87". Washington Post. Retrieved 21 August 2018.
  5. ^ "United Artists plans re-release of 'Apocalypse Now'". The Gainesville Sun. August 26, 1987. Retrieved May 18, 2015.
  6. ^ Derek Malcolm (1999) Francis Ford Coppola: Apocalypse Now. The Guardian. Thursday November 4, 1999
  7. ^ Peary, Gerald. "Francis Ford Coppola, Interview with Gerald Peary". Gerald Peary. Retrieved March 14, 2007.
  8. ^ "Critics' top 100". bfi.org.uk. Retrieved March 10, 2016.
  9. ^ "Complete National Film Registry Listing". Library of Congress. Retrieved July 19, 2018.
  10. ^ Appelo, Tim (30 August 2014). "Telluride: Francis Ford Coppola Spills 'Apocalypse Now' Secrets on 35th Annversary". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved 25 August 2018.
  11. ^ French, Karl (1998) Apocalypse Now, Bloomsbury, London. ISBN 978-0-7475-3804-2
  12. ^ Cowie 2001, p. 19.
  13. ^ Murfin, Ross C (ed.) (1989): Joseph Conrad: Heart of Darkness. A Case Study in Contemporary Criticism. Boston: St. Martin's Press, pp. 3–16.
  14. ^ "Heart of Darkness & Apocalypse Now: A comparative analysis of novella and film". Cyberpat.com. Retrieved March 6, 2010.
  15. ^ Leary, William L. "Death of a Legend". Air America Archive. Retrieved June 10, 2007.
  16. ^ Warner, Roger. Shooting at the Moon.
  17. ^ Ehrlich, Richard S. (July 8, 2003). "CIA operative stood out in 'secret war' in Laos". Bangkok Post. https://web.archive.org/web/20090806040904/http://geocities.com/asia_correspondent/laos0307ciaposhepnybp.html. Retrieved June 10, 2007.
  18. ^ Isaacs, Matt (November 17, 1999). "Agent Provocative". SF Weekly. Archived from the original on June 12, 2009. Retrieved May 2, 2009.
  19. ^ Smith, Terence (August 14, 1969). "Details of Green Beret Case Are Reported in Saigon" (PDF). The New York Times. pp. 1–2. Retrieved November 30, 2015. (Subscription required (help)). His status as a double agent was reportedly confirmed by the Central Intelligence Agency, which, according to the sources, suggested that he either be isolated or 'terminated with extreme prejudice.' This term is said to be an intelligence euphemism for execution.
  20. ^ Davidson, Harriet. "Improper desire: reading The Waste Land" in Anthony David Moody (ed.). The Cambridge companion to T. S. Eliot. Cambridge University Press, 1995, p. 121.
  21. ^ Cowie 2001, p. 2.
  22. ^ Ken Plume, "Interview with John Milius", IGN, 7 May 2003. Retrieved January 5, 2012
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  24. ^ a b c d Cowie 2001, p. 5.
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Further reading

External links

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