A P O C A L Y P S E N O W







Original screenplay by John Milius.



Inspired by Joseph Conrad's "HEART OF DARKNESS".



This draft by Francis Ford Coppola.



December 3, 1975.







1 PRIMEVAL SWAMP - EARLY DAWN



It is very early in the dawn - blue light filters through

the jungle and across a foul swamp. A mist clings to the

trees. This could be the jungle of a million years ago.



Our VIEW MOVES CLOSER, through the mist, TILTING DOWN to

the tepid water. A small bubble rises to the surface;

then another. Suddenly, but quietly, a form begins to

emerge; a helmet. Water and mud pour off revealing a set

of beady eyes just above the mud. Printed on a helmet,

in a psychedelic hand, are the words: "Gook Killer."

The head emerges revealing that the tough-looking soldier

beneath has exceptionally long hair and beard; he has no

shirt on, only bandoliers of ammunition - his body is

painted in an odd camouflage pattern. He looks to the

right; he looks to the left; he looks INTO CAMERA, and

slowly sinks back into the swamp, disapperaring completely.



Our VIEW HOLDS, We begin to HEAR natural, though

unrecognizable JUNGLE SOUNDS, far off in the distance.

We PAN TO REVEAL a clump of logs half submerged in the

swamp; and part of what seems to be a Falstaff beer can

in the mud. A hand reaches out, and the beer can disappears.

As we TILT UP, we NOTICE that the log is hollow

and houses the rear of a M-60 machine gun, hand painted

in a paisley design.



Now the VIEW MOVES AWAY, ACROSS the ancient growth, PAST

the glimmer of what seems to be another soldier hiding in

ambush, wearing an exotic hat made from birds and bushes.

ACROSS to a dark trail where the legs of those in black

pajamas move silently across our ever TIGHTENING VIEW.

Their feet, boots and sandals leave no impression; make

no sound. A slight flicker of light reveals a pair of

eyes in the foliage across the path, waiting and watching.



The VIEW PUSHES ALONG WITH the Vietnamese, MOVING FASTER

AND FASTER WITH them, until suddenly, directly in front

about ten feet away, an enormous AMERICAN clad in rags

and bushes and holding a 12 gauge automatic shotgun

casually at his side, steps in front of them. He smiles

laconically, and BLASTS OUT FIVE SHOTS that rip THROUGH

US. By the second shot, the whole jungle blazes out

with AUTOMATIC FIRE.



Out VIEW TURNS as the men around us are thrown and torn,

screaming and scattering into the jungle. More AMERICANS

appear; unexplainably, out of the growth. It is now that

we fully SEE the bizarre manner in which they are dressed.

Some wear helmets, others wear strange hats made from

feathers and parts of animals. Some of them have long

savage-looking hair; other crew-cut or completely shaved;

they wear bandoliers, flak jackets, shorts and little else.

They wear Montagnard sandals or no shoes at all, and their

bodies and faces are painted in bizarre camouflage patterns.

They appear one with the jungle and mist, FIRING INTO US

as they move.



The soldier we saw earlier emerges from the swamp, dripping

mud, his MACHINE GUN BLASTING FIRE.



We begin to move quickly with one Vietnamese, breathlessly

running for his life; we MOVE INTO the jungle with him,

only to be impaled on a large spear of a smiling AMERICAN

painted and wearing feathers like an Indian. OUR VIEW

FALLS WITH him to the ground, STARING UPWARDS, as FLAME

and EXPLODING MUD scatter above us. Men scream and die

around us. The screams amid the GUNFIRE and EXPLOSIONS

are piercing and terrible, as though the jungle itself is

frightened.



An AMERICAN wearing a jungle hat with a large Peace Sign

on it, wearing war paint, bends TOWARD US, reaching down

TOWARD US with a large knife, preparing to scalp the

dead.



OUR VIEW MOVES AWAY, along with the running sandals of a

Vietnamese soldier, MOVING FASTER AND FASTER, only to be

stopped by still another of the savage-looking AMERICANS

with primitive ornamentation, wearing only a loin-cloth

and green beret. He opens his flame-thrower directly ON US

and the NVA soldier and we are incinerated in flame,

bright psychedelic orange-red flame. Outrageous, loud,

electric ROCK MUSIC OVERWHELMS the SOUNDTRACK :





MAIN TITLE : APOCALYPSE NOW





2 TITLE SEQUENCE



The CREDIT TITLES proceed as the FLANE CONSUME US,

growing more intense, brighter, more vivid, purifying;

transforming into an intense white heat that we can barely

look at, like the sun itself.



Then it EXPLODES, breking apart, and shattering once

again. It begins to cool, as the TITLES CONTINUE. It

is as though WE ARE MOVING through the white center of

cooling flame, forming a spinning web, and becoming more

distant. The TITLES CONTINUE.



We are MOVING TOWARD planetary nebulae; MOVING through the

stars; MOVING closer to the Earth. We can BARELY HEAR the

MUSIC now.



We MOVE CLOSER to the earth; beautiful, covered in clouds,

as though SEEN from a satellite. The TITLES CONTINUE.



We are MOVING CLOSER to the earth; through the soft clouds,

close enough that we can MAKE OUT the Western Hemisphere;

CLOSER to North America; CLOSER, to America, then California;

Los Angeles, STILL CLOSER to the odd, finger-like

shapes of :





3 EXT. MARINA DEL REY



The VIEW finally SETTLES ON a partically luxury cabin

cruiser harbored at a particular dock late in the day.



It is large, pleasure boat: The people are relaxing in

bathing suits and towels and robes. They are drinking

cocktails, and snapping pictures. The boat belongs to the

head of a large American Corporation, and this is his

party. This man, CHARLIE, is sitting, his shirt off to

catch some of the late sun. Others have their faces

smeared with white suntan oil that reminds us of war

paint. Charlie is going on and on :



CHARLIE

... It's crazy -- sugar is up to

200 dollars a ton -- sugar !



LAWYER

What about oil ?



CHARLIE

Food, oil --look, let me show you

something. This is the economy of

the United States in two years --



He takes a newspaper, draws a circle.



CHARLIE

(continuing)

This is West Germany.

(he draws another,

bigger circle)

This is Japan.

(another , bigger)

This is Italy.

(a dot)

This is Iran.

(a very big circle)

And this is Saudi Arabia... In

two years ?

(a gigantic circle)

Do you understand ?



ACCOUNTANT

What's to prevent it ?



CHARLIE

Maybe nothing. But I'll tell you,

I didn't build a two-billion-dollar

company in the last twenty years

by doing nothing. We can protect

our interests.

(pause, for a drink)

We are still the most powerful

nation in the world. Militarily.



He leans to his associates, in a half-whisper.



CHARLIE

(continuing)

You know bodyguard; he was a

captain in Viet Nam. You talk to

him, except he won't talk. This

kind of man can kill you with his

pinky. A nice quiet fella, though.



The VIEW BEGINS TO PULL AWAY from this group.



CHARLIE

(continuing)

Carries a attache case at all

times. You know what's in it ?

(another sip)

An Ingram Machine pistol.



Gradually, Charlie's voice softens as we MOVE AWAY, and a

NEW VOICE, the voice of someone thinking, COMES IN OVER it :



CHARLIE WILLARD (V.O.)

I don't tahe chances, and Bullshit. You can kill

neither should this country. with the ridge of your

If we're strong, we should hand to the throat; you

protect our interests, and can crush a skull with

we should have the respect your knee... but you

of the world, even if it can't kill anybody with

takes another war. your pinky.



The VIEW MOVE ALONG the guests of this small party :

Pictures being taken, some people are swimming. It is the

good life. Now WILLARD'S VOICE TRACK DOMINATES.



WILLARD (V.O.)

The attache case has been empty

for three years, but it makes him

safe to think there's a machine

pistol in it.



I don't like automatic weapons.

They jam.



I saw a friend of mine get

ripped open because he flicked his

M-16 to automatic, and it jammed.

How much money did the contractors

make on the M-16 ?



Our VIEW IS MOVING through the people on the boat; some

reading, flirting, drinking.



WILLARD (V.O.)

(continuing)

He likes to hear stories about Nam.

I tell him I can't; they're not

cleared. The truth is he wouldn't

understand.



We can now SEE A MAN with his BACK TO US, looking the

opposite way. An attache case resting near to him. We

MOVE CLOSER.



WILLARD (V.O.)

(continuing)

There's no way I can tell them...

what really happened over there.



I wouldn't've believed it if

someone'd told me.



We are now RESTING on his back. Occasionally, he sips

from a beer, but we cannot see his face.



WILLARD (V.O.)

(continuing)

There was only one part that

mattered -- for me, anyway. I

don't even know if I remember

all of it. I can't remember

how it ended, exactly -- because

when it ended I was insane.



DISSOLVE TO :



4 EXT. A STREET IN SAIGON - DAY



A Saigon boom street in late 1968. There are bars and

shops for servicemen; the rickshaws, the motorbikes.

Our VIEW MOVES TOWARD one particular officer; B.L.

WILLARD , in uniform, a Captain of the Airborne, followed

by four or five Vietnamese kids trying to shine his

shoes and sell him things.



WILLARD (V.O.)

But I know how it started

for me -- I was on R. and R.

in Saigon; my first time south

of the DMZ in three months. I

wasn't sure, but I thought this

guy was following me.



Willard looks back.





5 HIS VIEW



an American CIVILIAN.





6 MED. VIEW



Willard ducks into a bar.





7 INT. THE SAIGON BAR - DAY



Not much in this place -- a bar, linoleum flooring, a few

tables and chairs, and a juke box. The lounge is fairly

crowded. Willard takes off his cap and walks quietly

past the soldiers at the bar. Some of them, catching

sight of his ribbons, stop talking as he moves by.



An INFANTRY CAPTAIN enters the bar, buys a couple of

drinks and approaches Willard's table.



CAPTAIN

How about a drink ?



WILLARD

Sure, thanks.



He sits down at the table with the drinks.



CAPTAIN

Winning the war by yourself.



WILLARD

(he calls for the waiter)

Part.



CAPTAIN

Which part is that ?



WILLARD

My part.

(TO THE WAITER)

Beer, with ice and water.





CAPTAIN

That's good gin.



WILLARD

I'm sure it is, but I had hepatitis.



CAPTAIN

Delta ?



WILLARD

No.



CAPTAIN

North ?



WILLARD

Yeah. Way north.



CAPTAIN

What unit were you with ?



WILLARD

None.



CAPTAIN

Rangers, eh?



WILLARD

Sort of.



The JUKE BOX starts BLARING. Annoyed , Willard looks over

his shoulder.



CAPTAIN

Were you Longe Range Recon --



WILLARD

No -- I worked too far north for

LRRP.



He reaches into his shirt pocket for a cigarette, and the

Captain leans over the table to light it for him. Willard

notices the CIVILIAN on the street has glanced in the bar,

then enters and sits down at a table by the doorway.



CAPTAIN

That's quite an array of ribbons...



WILLARD

Let's talk about you.



CAPTAIN

I was an FO for the 25th.



WILLARD

Tracks ?



CAPTAIN

Yeah.



WILLARD

Fat. That's real fat.



CAPTAIN

Sometimes.



WILLARD

At least you always have enough

water. How many gallons does

each one of those damn things

carry ?



CAPTAIN

Thirty -- sometimes fifty.



WILLARD

You know, I can remember once,

getting back below the DMZ -- and

the first Americans we ran into

were a track squadron. I just

couldn't believe how much water

they had. We'd been chewing

bamboo shoots for almost a week,

and before that, for two weeks,

we'd been drinking anything --

rain water, river shit, stuff

right out of the paddies. And

there were these guys standing

by their trucks spilling water

all over. I could've killed them.

(solemnly)

I swear to God I would have, too,

if ...



CAPTAIN

I didn't know we had units up

there in North Vietnam.



WILLARD

We do.



CAPTAIN

How long were you up there ?



WILLARD

A long time.



CAPTAIN

A year ? Waiter another beer.



WILLARD

I go up on missions. Listen

Captain, buy me all the beer

you want, but you better tell

that asshole over there you're

not going to find out anymore

about me.



Willard glances over his shoulder and indicates the

Civilian. The Civilian is given a sign by the Captain.

He rises and comes over to the bar.



WILLARD

(continuing)

What do you want ?



CIVILIAN

(indicating the Army jeep)

If you're B.L. Willard, 4th Recon

Group, we'd like you to come with

us.



WILLARD

Whose orders ?



CAPTAIN

Headquarters 11 Corps -- 405th

A.S.A Battalion -- S-2 --

Com-Sec -- Intelligence --

Nha Trang.



WILLARD

Who are you ?



CIVILIAN

The agency.



Willard looks at the Civilian a moment, and then walks

roght out toward the jeep without saying another word.

The Civilian follows.





8 EXT. HELICOPTER - DUSK



A darkly painted "HUEY" ROARS over low paddies and jungle

before emerging onto an open plain. It crosses a barbed

wire and sand-bagged perimeter and lands in a heavily

fortified, concealed compound.



WILLARD (V.O.)

They took me to some place outside

Nha Trang... Intelligence Headquarters

for all operations in South East Asia.

I'd worked for Intelligence before --



Armed men jump from the Huey -- among them Willard. A

large camouflaged cover is moved, revealing an underground

corridor -- they enter.





9 FULL SHOT - UNDERGROUND PLOTTING ROOM



A door swings wide -- Willard steps through and comes to

attention, blocking the view of the room. A strange

reddish light pervades. The room is covered with plastic

maps and filled with smoke.



The whole place has been hewn out of the ground itself

and there is a sense of the cut-back jungle growth slowly

reclaiming it.



WILLARD

Captain B.L. Willard, G-4 Headquarters,

reporting as ordered, sir.



COLONEL (O.S.)

Okay, Willard, sit down.



Willard sits in a chair that is set in a center of a

bare concrete floor. Across from him, around steel desks

and tables sit several men. The nearest one, a COLONEL

puts his cigar out on the bottom of his shoe -- behind

him sits a MAJOR and a seedy-looking CIVILIAN.



COLONEL

Have you ever seen this officer

before, Captain Willard ?



He points to the Major.



WILLARD

No, sir.



COLONEL

This gentleman or myself ?



WILLARD

No, sir.



COLONEL

I believe on your last job you

executed a tax collector in Kontum,

is that right ?



WILLARD

I am not presently disposed to

discuss that, sir.



MAJOR

Very good.



He turns to the Colonel and nods his approval. The

Colonel gets up and goes to a large plastic map.



COLONEL

You know much about about Special Forces;

Green Berets, Captain ?



WILLARD

I've worked with them on occasions

and I saw the movie , sir.



The officer smiles at this.



COLONEL

Then you can appreciate Command's

concern over their -- shall we say

'erratic' methods of operation.

(pause)

I have never favored elite units,

Captain, including your paratroopers

or whatever. Just because a man

jumps out of an airplane or wears

a silly hat doesn't give him any

priviliges in my book -- not in

this man's army.



MAJOR

We didn't need 'em in Korea --

no sir, give me an Ohio farm boy

and an M-1 Garand, none of this

fancy crap -- no sir.



CIVILIAN

(stopping him)

Major.



COLONEL

We have Special Forces A

detachments all along the

Cambodian border. Two here and

another one here -- twelve or

fourteen Americans -- pretty

much on their own; they train

and motivate Montagnard natives;

pick their own operations. If

they need something, they call

for it, and get it within

reason. What we're concerned

with is here.





10 CLOSE VIEW - ON THE MAP



COLONEL

The A detachment at Nu Mung Ba.

It was originally a larger base,

built up along the river in an

old Cambodian fortress.



The area has been relatively

quiet for the past two years --

but --





11 MED VIEW



COLONEL

... Captain, we know something's

going on up there -- Major --



The Major looks at some papers in front of him.



MAJOR

Communications naturally dwindled

with the lack of V.C. activity,

this is routine, expected ... but

six months ago communication

virtually stopped.



COLONEL

About the same time -- large numbers

of Montagnards of the M'Nong descent

began leaving the area -- this in

itself is not unusual since these

people have fought with the Rhade

Tribe that lived in the area for

centuries. But what is unusual is

that we began to find Rhade refugees

too -- in the same sampans as the

M'Nongs. These people aren't afraid

of V.C. They've put up with war

for twenty years -- but something

is driving them out.



MAJOR

We communicate with the base

infrequently. What they call for

are air strikes, immediate --

always at night. And we don't

know what or who the air strikes

are called on.



WILLARD

Who ?



MAJOR

You see,

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