Francis Ford Coppola directed and produced Apocalypse Now, a 1979 American epic psychological war movie. Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne, as well as Dennis Hopper are among the cast members. The script, co-written by Coppola and John Milius, and narrated by Michael Herr, is partly based on Joseph Conrad’s 1899 novella Heart of Darkness, well with setting shifted from late-nineteenth-century Congo to the Vietnam War. Captain Benjamin L. Willard embarks on a river voyage from South Vietnam to Cambodia on a covert mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz (Brando), a renegade Army Special Forces commander convicted of murder and considered mad.
In the late 1960s, Milius grew interested in adapting Heart of Darkness for a Vietnam War context, and he began working on the project with Coppola as producer and George Lucas as director. When Lucas became unavailable, Coppola took over as the director, and his approach to the subject was informed by Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972). Originally planned as a five-month shot, the picture became known for the troubles that plagued it for more than a year, as shown in the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse. Expensive sets were destroyed by harsh weather, Brando showed up on set overweight and unprepared, and Sheen had a nervous breakdown and suffered a near-fatal heart attack while on location. After filming, problems persisted, and the film’s release was repeatedly postponed as Coppola edited nearly a million feet of footage.
Apocalypse Now won the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered incomplete before being released by United Artists on August 15, 1979.
The picture did well from the box office, collecting $40 million in the United States and more than $100 million internationally. While Vittorio Storaro’s photography received widespread praise, many critics regarded Coppola’s handling of the story’s primary themes to be anticlimactic as well as intellectually unsatisfactory.
Apocalypse Now is largely regarded as among the best films of all time. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards, notably Best Picture, Best Director (Coppola), and Best Supporting Actor (Duvall), and won Best Cinematography and Best Sound there at 52nd Academy Awards. In 2012, it was named No. 14 in Sight & Sound’s best films poll, and No. 6 in the Director’s Poll of all-time excellent movies. It was also featured in Roger Ebert’s top ten list of the best films of all time in 2012.