Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic war film directed, produced, and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola. It was co-written by John Milius with narration written by Michael Herr. It stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne, and Dennis Hopper. The screenplay, written by Milius, adapts the story of Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness, changing its setting from late nineteenth-century Congo to the Vietnam War ca. late 1960s–early 1970s. It draws from Herr's 1977 Dispatches and Werner Herzog's Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972). The film revolves around Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Sheen), who is on a secret mission to assassinate Colonel Kurtz, a renegade Army officer who is presumed insane.
The film has been noted for the problems encountered while making it, chronicled in the documentary Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse (1991). These problems included Brando arriving on the set overweight and completely unprepared, expensive sets being destroyed by severe weather, 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 thousands of feet of film.
Apocalypse Now was honored with the Palme d'Or at Cannes Film Festival, nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture, and the Golden Globe Award for Best Motion Picture – Drama. Initial reviews were mixed; while Vittorio Storaro's cinematography was widely acclaimed, several critics found Coppola's handling of the story's major themes to be anticlimactic and intellectually disappointing. Reevaluated in subsequent years, Apocalypse Now is today considered to be one of the greatest films ever made. It ranked No. 14 in Sight & Sound's greatest films poll in 2012. In 2000, the film was selected for preservation in the National Film Registry by the Library of Congress as being "culturally, historically or aesthetically significant".