Apocalypse Now is a Francis Ford Coppola film, based (loosely) on Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness but set in the Vietnam War, in which a taciturn soldier is sent to terminate an American colonel "with extreme prejudice." The colonel, deep in the Cambodian jungle, has turned to cannibalism and murder and is worshipped by the natives. The film features performances by Martin Sheen as Captain Willard (Marlow, in the novel), Marlon Brando as Col. Kurtz, and Dennis Hopper as the reporter (the harlequin).
The film deviates extensively from the book, for example in that Captain Willard is not sent to investigate, but to kill, and that Col. Kurtz does not die a natural though mysterious death; also Marlow is sent here to Cambodia, not the land of the Congo River.
Due to typhoons, nervous breakdowns, heart attacks, and a temperamental director, the film went grievously overbudget and over schedule. The original version was severely edited, causing some of the symbolism to be lost; Coppola re-released the film in 2001 under the title Apocalypse Now Redux, featuring over an hour of restored footage. For background information on the film, see Eleanor Coppola's documentary, Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, released in 1991.
The film won two Academy Awards:
- Best Cinematography - Vittorio Storaro
- Best Sound - Richard Beggs, Mark Berger, Nathan Boxer and Walter Murch
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role - Robert Duvall
- Academy Award for Best Art Direction - Set Decoration - Angelo P. Graham, George R. Nelson and Dean Tavoularis
- Best Director - Francis Ford Coppola
- Best Film Editing - Lisa Fruchtman, Gerald B. Greenberg, Richard Marks and Walter Murch
- Best Picture - Francis Ford Coppola, Gray Frederickson, Fred Roos and Tom Sternberg
- Best Writing, Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium - Francis Ford Coppola and John Milius