When Sean McAllister nominated his friend Phil Rhodes to play Kurtz in Apocalypse Now I thought that’s a bold choice. Phil nailed it!
Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic war film directed, produced and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola and co-written by John Milius with narration by Michael Herr. It stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Larry Fishburne and Dennis Hopper. The screenplay written by Milius updates the setting of Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness to that of the Vietnam War and draws from Herr’s Dispatches and Werner Herzog’s Aguirre, the Wrath of God (1972). The film revolves around Captain Benjamin L. Willard (Sheen) on a secret mission to assassinate Colonel Walter E. Kurtz, a renegade 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 its lead actor (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 footage.
Apocalypse Now was released to universal acclaim. 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. It is considered to be one of the greatest films ever made. The film was also ranked No. 14 in the British Film Institute’s Sight and Sound greatest films poll in 2012. The film ranks #7 on Empire magazine’s 2008 list of the 500 greatest movies of all time. 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”.