Director: Francis Ford Coppola
Stars: Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall
Apocalypse Now is not just one of the best war movies. It’s one of the best movies of all time. Marlon Brando plays Kurtz, an American Colonel gone rogue, and Martin Sheen plays Willard, a Captain sent to eliminate Kurtz. Coppola borrows loosely from Heart of Darkness, taking some plot details, as well as Kurtz’s name and his famous last words from the classic Joseph Conrad novel that heavily criticizes European colonialism in Africa in the 1800s. Coppola updates the time period of the source material to the Vietnam War, thereby making a statement on American values. This larger framework is important for understanding why it’s such an important film. Apocalypse Now is not a war film in the most straightforward sense, with just explosive battle scenes and strong generals giving orders to fire. It’s a much more somber, introspective affair, gesturing instead at the morality (or lack thereof) of war and its effects on those involved in it.