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Apocalypse Now

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2306
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Apocalypse Now (1979)

Additional Information

Additional Information
The Horror. . . The Horror. . .


One of a cluster of late-1970s films about the Vietnam War, Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now adapts the Joseph Conrad novella Heart of Darkness to depict the war as a descent into primal madness. Capt. Willard (Martin Sheen), already on the edge, is assigned to find and deal with AWOL Col. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), rumored to have set himself up in the Cambodian jungle as a local, lethal godhead. Along the way Willard encounters napalm and Wagner fan Col. Kilgore (Robert Duvall), draftees who prefer to surf and do drugs, a USO Playboy Bunny show turned into a riot by the raucous soldiers, and a jumpy photographer (Dennis Hopper) telling wild, reverent tales about Kurtz. By the time Willard sees the heads mounted on stakes near Kurtz's compound, he knows Kurtz has gone over the deep end, but it is uncertain whether Willard himself now agrees with Kurtz's insane dictum to "Drop the Bomb. Exterminate them all." Coppola himself was not certain either, and he tried several different endings between the film's early rough-cut screenings for the press, the Palme d'Or-winning "work-in-progress" shown at Cannes, and the final 35 mm U.S. release (also the ending on the video cassette). The chaotic production also experienced shut-downs when a typhoon destroyed the set and star Sheen suffered a heart attack; the budget ballooned and Coppola covered the overages himself. These production headaches, which Coppola characterized as being like the Vietnam War itself, have been superbly captured in the documentary, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse. Despite the studio's fears and mixed reviews of the film's ending, Apocalypse Now became a substantial hit and was nominated for eight Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor for Duvall's psychotic Kilgore, and Best Screenplay. It won Oscars for sound and for Vittorio Storaro's cinematography. This hallucinatory, Wagnerian project has produced admirers and detractors of equal ardor; it resembles no other film ever made, and its nightmarish aura and polarized reception aptly reflect the tensions and confusions of the Vietnam era.

Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic war film set during the Vietnam War, directed and produced by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, and Martin Sheen. The film follows the central character, U.S. Army special operations officer Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Sheen), of MACV-SOG, on a mission to kill the renegade and presumed insane U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Brando).
The screenplay by John Milius and Coppola came from Milius's idea of adapting Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness into the Vietnam War era. It also draws from Michael Herr's Dispatches,[2] the film version of Conrad's Lord Jim[citation needed] which shares the same character of Marlow with Heart of Darkness, and Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972).[3]
The film has been cited for the problems encountered while making it. These problems were chronicled in the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, which recounted the stories of Brando arriving on the set overweight and completely unprepared; costly sets being destroyed by severe weather; and its lead actor (Sheen) suffering a heart attack while on location. Problems continued after production as the release was postponed several times while Coppola edited millions of feet of footage.
Upon release, Apocalypse Now earned widespread critical acclaim and its cultural impact and philosophical themes have been extensively discussed since. Honored with the Palme d'Or at Cannes, and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama, the film was also deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" and was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry in 2000. In the Sight and Sound Greatest Films poll, the film was ranked #14.

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.[42] At the subsequent press conference, Coppola criticized the media for attacking him and the production during their problems filming in the Philippines and famously uttered, "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".[42] 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

Upon its release, Apocalypse Now received near-universal critical acclaim. 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".[46] 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".[44]
Ebert added Coppola's film to his list of 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".[47]
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".[48]
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.[49] 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.[49] Additionally, a Marine named Anthony Swofford recounted how his platoon watched Apocalypse Now before being sent to Iraq in 1990 in order to get excited for war.[50] 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”.[51]
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."[52]
Rotten Tomatoes ranked the film 99% "Certified Fresh" with an average rating of 8.9/10, and the stated consensus that "Francis Ford Coppola's haunting, hallucinatory Vietnam war epic i

Apocalypse Now performed well at the box office when it opened in August 1979.[42] 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.[44] The film grossed over $78 million domestically with a worldwide total of approximately $150 million.[39]
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.[45] 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

Release Date: August 15, 1979

Distrib: United Artists


Boxoffice: $78,784,010 2014: $262,090,200

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