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Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American drama film set during the Vietnam War. It tells the story of Army Captain Benjamin L. Willard who is sent into the jungle to assassinate United States Army Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, who has gone insane. As Willard’s journey upriver becomes increasingly surreal and bizarre, he begins to lose sight of his purpose in the jungle. The film has been read as a metaphor for the United States’ war in Vietnam, but it can also be read as a journey into the darkness of the human psyche.

The film was directed by Francis Ford Coppola from a script by Coppola, John Milius and Michael Herr, which drew elements from Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness (1899), and Herr’s “Dispatches” (1977). It was also heavily influenced by Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972): Coppola himself has noted, “Aguirre, with its incredible imagery, was a very strong influence. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention it.”

The film stars Martin Sheen as Captain Benjamin L. Willard (based on Marlow in Conrad’s novel), Marlon Brando as Colonel Kurtz, Dennis Hopper as a photojournalist, and Robert Duvall in an Oscar-nominated turn as the wild Lt. Colonel Bill Kilgore. The movie became notorious in the entertainment press due to its lengthy and troubled production. In the end, Coppola had to finance the film with his own money.

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