Concept

Apocalypse Now is loosely based upon Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness.[1] The following clip from the documentary Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse gives a brief summary of Conrad’s novel.

Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse

The book also explores the duality of human nature, chronicling the protagonist’s dissention into the darkness that is present within all humankind.[2]

The following clip from the documentary outlines how George Lucas and John Milius came up with the idea to create movie about the Vietnam War based upon the novel Heart of Darkness.

Heart of Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse

John Milius believed that a movie about the Vietnam War based upon the novel Heart of Darkness would provide a “powerful framework and metaphor that would enhance the basic concept” of war.[3]

Aside from its primary influence of Heart of Darkness, the ending of the movie was influenced by T.S. Eliot’s poem, The Waste Land. Eliot’s poem explores life after the end of World War I and has many allusions to the tension between the ancient and modern world.[4]


[1] Clarke, James. Coppola. London: Virgin Books Ltd., 2003.
[2] Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. London: Plain Label Books, 1973.
[3] Clarke, James.
[1] Clarke, James.

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