By Kelly Kessler,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Disturbing tale of war horrors isn't for kids.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Sex, Romance & Nudity
Male nudity, brief images of centerfolds, locker-room talk.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
A lot of swearing by the soldiers and using of ethnic slurs.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
Products & Purchases
Winston cigarettes, Budweiser, Marlboro.
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Excessive drinking and pot smoking. Use of other illegal drugs and extended drug trips.
Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.Get started
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.
To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Where to Watch
Based on 15 parent reviews
Perhaps the greatest film ever made! (Watch the Theatrical Cut First However)
Report this review
Report this review
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?
- In theaters: January 1, 1979
- On DVD or streaming: November 9, 1999
- Cast: Marlon Brando, Martin Sheen, Robert Duvall
- Director: Francis Ford Coppola
- Studio: Paramount Pictures
- Genre: Drama
- Run time: 153 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing violent images, language, sexual content and some drug use
- Last updated: June 2, 2023
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
Suggest an Update
Where to Watch
Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate