Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic adventure war film set during the Vietnam War. Produced and directed by Francis Ford Coppola and starring Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, and Robert Duvall, the film follows the central character, U.S. Army special operations officer Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Sheen), of MACV-SOG, on a secret mission to assassinate the renegade and presumed insane U.S. Army Special Forces Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Brando).
The screenplay by John Milius and Coppola updates the setting of Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness to that of the Vietnam War era. It also draws from Michael Herr's Dispatches, the film version of Conrad's Lord Jim which shares the same character of Marlow with Heart of Darkness, and Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972).
The film has been noted for the problems encountered while making it. These problems were chronicled in the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse, which recounted the stories of Brando arriving on the set overweight and completely unprepared; costly sets being destroyed by severe weather; and its lead actor (Sheen) suffering a near fatal heart attack while on location. Problems continued after production as the release was postponed several times while Coppola edited thousands of feet of footage.
Apocalypse Now was released to wide acclaim. Many critics now regard it as one of the greatest films ever made. It was honored with the Palme d'Or at Cannes, and nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama. The film was also ranked #14 in the Sight and Sound greatest films poll. In 2000, Apocalypse Now was deemed "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant" and was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress .