Francis Ford Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" was made in 1979, as his attempt to help bring understanding to the Vietnam War. He based the movie on the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. In the novel, told in first person by an agent for an ivory trading company, the action involves going deeper and deeper into the Congo in search of an employee named Kurtz.
As he travels further into the jungle, his thinking becomes more delusional and he begins to think in a much darker fashion. Coppola saw this tale as being similar to the situation in Vietnam. Instead of a company agent, he creates a Captain Willard (a hyper sensitive Martin Sheen) who is assigned a mission deep into the Cambodian jungles to find and neutralize the renegade Colonel Kurtz, played by Marlon Brando.
Captain Willard goes on a Navy Patrol Boat up river deep into the jungle, and as he goes deeper into the jungle, more and more layers of civilization peel away. The film is narrated in Willard's voice, and his attitude of being an anti-hero is apparent from his opening monologue wherein he says: "Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission and for my sins they gave me one." As Willard describes the situation to the audience, he says, in a stretch for tragic irony, "The crew were mostly just kids. Rock and rollers with one foot in their graves."
Part of the brilliance of the script is that there is no clear-cut enemy. Because it takes place during the Vietnam War, the most obvious enemy from an American viewpoint would be the VietCong and the Khmer Rouge. However, the mission that informs the movie is not against this "enemy", but against an American and an officer. By creating this situation, Coppola, who also wrote the screenplay with John Milius, left the situation open for a flexible enemy, and one that changed throughout the movie. Throughout the course of the movie, Coppola seems