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Plot, Details & Awards

Apocalypse Now

(1979)
R In Theaters 08/15/1979 , 153min.
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Plot & Details

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.

Awards

Academy Awards

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Sound Mark Berger Won
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture Tom Sternberg Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Editing Richard Marks Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Editing Walter Murch Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Director Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Supporting Actor Robert Duvall Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture Fred Roos Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Art Direction Dean Tavoularis Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Adapted Screenplay John Milius Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Cinematography Vittorio Storaro Won
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Adapted Screenplay Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Editing Jerry Greenberg Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Sound Nathan Boxer Won
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture Gray Fredrickson Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Art Direction George R. Nelson Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Sound Richard Beggs Won
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Art Direction Angelo P. Graham Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Editing Lisa Fruchtman Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Picture Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
1979 Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Best Sound Walter Murch Won

British Academy of Film and Television Arts

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1979 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Picture Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
1979 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Supporting Actor Robert Duvall Won

Golden Globes

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1979 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Original Score Carmine Coppola Won
1979 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Original Score Francis Ford Coppola Won
1979 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Director Francis Ford Coppola Won
1979 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Picture - Drama Nominated
1979 Hollywood Foreign Press Association Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture Robert Duvall Won

American Film Institute

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1998 American Film Institute 100 Greatest American Movies Won

British Academy of Film and Television Arts

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1979 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Picture Francis Ford Coppola Nominated
1979 British Academy of Film and Television Arts Best Supporting Actor Robert Duvall Won

Cannes Film Festival

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1979 Cannes Film Festival Palme d'Or Won

Directors Guild of America

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1979 Directors Guild of America Best Director Francis Ford Coppola Nominated

National Board of Review

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1979 National Board of Review Best Picture Nominated

National Society of Film Critics

Year Award CategoryCast & Crew Result
1979 National Society of Film Critics Best Supporting Actor Frederic Forrest Won
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