Apocalypse Now

Movie review by
Kelly Kessler, Common Sense Media
Apocalypse Now Movie Poster Image
Popular with kidsParents recommend
Disturbing tale of war horrors isn't for kids.
  • R
  • 1979
  • 153 minutes

Parents say

age 16+
Based on 14 reviews

Kids say

age 15+
Based on 24 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The film does not include positive role models. The main goal of the protagonist is to assassinate a rogue American Green Beret. American soldiers appear out of control, violent, and overall heartless. They do not seem to be fighting for a greater cause. It appears to be an immoral quest undertaken by unethical individuals.


Animals are put in jeopardy. Somewhat graphic images of injured/dead soldiers, a lot of generalized images of bombings of Vietnamese villages. Soldiers callously kill civilians who they see as inconveniences. Mangled and tortured bodies. Decapitation. Major characters die. VERY graphic conclusion.


Male nudity, brief images of centerfolds, locker-room talk.


A lot of swearing by the soldiers and using of ethnic slurs.


Winston cigarettes, Budweiser, Marlboro.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Excessive drinking and pot smoking. Use of other illegal drugs and extended drug trips.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that this film has dark and violent overtones. It is not recommended for kids. This is not a historical piece that glorifies the moral journeys of American soldiers. It includes excessive swearing, violence, and drug use. The film also presents American soldiers as overall hostile and excessively violent.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byFerrys August 14, 2020

Not Suitable for Vegans or Children

This film is something that I have known about for a long time and wanted to watch for several years to find out what all the fuss was about, but I have to ask... Continue reading
Adult Written byIMDB January 2, 2020
Teen, 13 years old Written byThedude68683 June 7, 2014

disturbing but a masterpiece

Excellent war film. Apocalypse Now illustrates the horror, the absurdity, and the futility of war, but most important it portrays war's damaging psychologi... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byLukeCon October 23, 2020

Coppola’s poetic anti-war work isn’t a pleasant watch

Apocalypse Now certainly carries a message, but that doesn’t make it an easy view. The material displayed throughout the film will certainly be considered upset... Continue reading

What's the story?

Francis Ford Coppola's APOCALYPSE NOW served as the director's artistic follow-up to his first two Godfather films (1972, 1974). The film chronicles Capt. Benjamin J. Willard's (Martin Sheen) journey down a hostile Vietnam river to find and kill a crazed Green Beret, Colonel Kurtz (Marlon Brando). The majority of the film follows Willard and his shipmates (Laurence Fishburne, Sam Bottoms, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall) as they travel to their classified destination. Ultimately, Willard must face the horror of the world Kurtz has created.

Is it any good?

One of the crown jewels of Zoetrope Studios, this intense, potent film is infamous for its director's over-budget and over-schedule process. The six-week shoot ultimately took 16 months. The project was plagued by problems. Coppola shot nearly 200 hours of film and took almost three years to edit the project. Despite multiple glitches in the process, the final product is a gripping and incredibly disturbing image of the murkiness of war and the depths of human depravity. Despite it being one of the greatest films of all time, parents might want to consider the film's psychological suspense and extreme violence before letting their teens watch it.

Apocalypse features outstanding performances by Sheen, Fishburne and Forrest. Robert Duvall gives a disturbing performance as Lieutenant Kilgore, a man who finds surfing and combat compatible activities and the character credited with one of the films most famous lines, "I love the smell of napalm in the morning." The film went on to garner two Academy Awards, six additional nominations, and won the Golden Palm at the Cannes Film Festival.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about moral and cinematic issues. The film portrays Vietnam soldiers in various ways: cold-blooded murderers, drug addicts, kids, etc. Does Lieutenant Colonel Kilgore's obsession with battleground surfing present any ideological problems? How does the film draw on Lance's drug use to comment on the overall experience and psyche of the Vietnam soldier? How do Willard's and Kurtz's horrific visions and acts comment on the murkiness of war? How does this film add to the existing historical and journalistic discourse regarding Vietnam veterans? What liberties does the film take with its source material, Heart of Darkness?

Movie details

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