Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic psychological war film directed and produced 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 with narration written by Michael Herr, is loosely based on the 1899 novella Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.
The film follows a river journey from South Vietnam into Cambodia undertaken by Captain Benjamin L. Willard, who is on a secret mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz, a renegade Army Special Forces officer accused of murder and who is presumed insane.
Initially set to be a five-month shoot, the film became noted for the problems encountered while making it for over a year. These problems included expensive sets being destroyed by severe weather, Brando showing up on set overweight and completely unprepared, 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 over a million feet of film.
Apocalypse Now was honored with the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered unfinished before it was finally released on August 15, 1979. The film performed well at the box office, grossing $40 million domestically and going on to gross over $100 million worldwide.
Apocalypse Now is today widely considered one of the greatest films ever made. It was nominated for eight Academy Awards at the 52nd Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Best Director and Best Supporting Actor for Duvall, and went on to win for Best Cinematography and Best Sound.
In 2000, the film was selected for preservation in the United States National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being “culturally, historically or aesthetically significant”.