“The most important thing I wanted to do in the making of Apocalypse Now was to create a film experience that would give its audience a sense of the horror, the madness, the sensuousness, and the moral dilemma of the Vietnam war.
When I began working on the film, over four years ago, I thought it was going to be the only American feature film made dealing with the war, and so I worked with that in mind. I tried to illustrate as many of its different facets as possible. And yet I wanted it to go further, to the moral issues that are behind all wars.
Over the period of shooting, this film gradually made itself; and curiously, the process of making the film became very much like the story of the film.
I found that many of the ideas and images with which I was working as a film director began to coincide with the realities of my own life, and that I, like Captain Willard, was moving up a river in a faraway jungle, looking for answers and hoping for some kind of catharsis.
It was my thought that if the American audience could look at the heart of what Vietnam was really like— what it looked like and felt like—then they would be only one small step away from putting it behind them.”
— Francis Ford Coppola, 1979