Reading Comprehension | Apocalypse Now

Develop your reading skills. Read the following text and do the comprehension questions

Apocalypse Now - Francis Ford Coppola

Apocalypse Now is a 1979 American epic war film directed, produced, and co-written by Francis Ford Coppola. It stars Marlon Brando, Robert Duvall, Martin Sheen, Frederic Forrest, Albert Hall, Sam Bottoms, Laurence Fishburne, and Dennis Hopper. The screenplay, co-written by Coppola and John Milius (who received an Oscar nomination for Best Adapted Screenplay) and featuring narration written by Michael Herr, is an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness.

An inspiration from Conrad's novella

Francis Ford Coppola's film "Apocalypse Now" was inspired by Heart of Darkness, a novella by Joseph Conrad. Kurtz and Marlow (whose corresponding character in the movie is Captain Willard) work for a Belgian trading company that brutally exploits its native African workers. Marlow was appointed as captain of a river steamboat. After days of sailing along the river, Marlow arrived at Kurtz's outpost and concludes that the latter has gone insane and is lording over a small tribe as a god. The novella ends with Kurtz dying on the trip back and the narrator musing about the darkness of the human psyche: "the heart of an immense darkness".

In Francis Ford's Coppola's film, Captain Willard is sent by Colonel Lucas and a General to carry out a mission that, officially, does not exist. The mission consists of seeking out and assassinating a mysterious Green Beret Colonel, Walter Kurtz, a renegade Army officer accused of murder who is presumed insane. Kurtz army has crossed the border into Cambodia and has set himself up as a god among a local tribe. During his secret mission, Willard confronts not only the same horrors and hypocrisy that pushed the level-headed Colonel Kurtz over the edge into an abyss of insanity, but the primal violence of human nature and the darkness of his own heart.

Problems while making the film

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. Several critics found Coppola's handling of the story's major themes to be anticlimactic and intellectually disappointing. However, after being re-evaluated 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"

Source: Wikipedia


  1. Francis Ford Coppola contributed to writing the screenplay of the film.
    a. True
    b. False
  2. Conrad's novella, the heart of darkness, was inspired by Coppola's film.
    a. True
    b. False
  3. During the making of the film, Marlon Brando had a heart attack.
    a. True
    b. False
  4. The film had favorable reaction from the start.
    a. True
    b. False

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