Apocalypse Now

Apocalypse Now (1979)

18 corrected entries

(28 votes)

Corrected entry: There's a shot of a jet crashed in the mud on the shore of the Nung River in a classic scene as the PBR sails underneath it. This makes for a great shot and may be the way WWII airplanes crashed, but it's not the way B52's crash. At the rates of speed and high altitudes they fly a jet aiming down at the ground like that would be in a million pieces and not sticking up in the mud. Even if the tail section were blown off it wouldn't crash this way and that's why there are absolutely no pictures of a Viet Nam combat era B52's tail section that has crashed in this way. (01:54:35)


Correction: The crash site wreckage you see is entirely typical of a low-level event such as an attempted emergency landing. The tail of an airliner or heavy bomber is often the only piece of piece of wreckage left after such an incident.

Correction: Just FYI, the first loss of a B-52 was 11-22-72 during Operation Linebacker II. The movie, most likely, takes place about August/September 1969.

Making this an entirely different type of error. The correction is right in terms of the state and disposition of the wreckage, but the fact that the wreckage shouldn't even be there in the first place doesn't invalidate that. Maybe you should post it as a factual error?

In 22 November 1972 it was the first shot down, not lost. First B-52 lost in the Vietnam war was June 18 1965, from colliding with another B-52. In total 11 B-52's were lost from accidents, the crashed one we see in the movie could be one of those.


First crash was a collision in June 1965. First one shot down was in Linebacker 2.

Not entirely true: A B52 was lost taking off from Andersen Guam going to Vietnam in 1969. The wing broke off on take off. Structural failure. Wreckage went in the water. Deep water.

Corrected entry: Before they arrive at the French plantation Captain Willard climbs to the top of the PBR as it sails underneath a downed fighter jet. This is not the tail configuration of any Vietnam era jet. (01:54:45)


Correction: It's a B-52D tail section, not any kind of "fighter."

Corrected entry: In northern South Vietnam (now central Vietnam), there are no navigable rivers that lead into Cambodia.

Correction: The Mekong river is navigable (I've personally navigated it twice...) and goes from Chau Doc Vietnam past Phnom Penh and deep into Cambodia.

I think the Nung is a fictional combination of the Mekong and the Dak Krong Rivers. I just saw Final Cut in imax - there's a glance at a map indicating the Nung goes N/NW to the west of Buon Me Thuot. The Dak Krong follows that path into Cambodia.

Correction: From the central highlands there is a river called the Tonle San River (or Se san River) that goes fom Vietnam straight into Cambodia. Most rivers from Vietnam flow into the Mekong river in Cambodia and then onwards to the Mekong Delta. Another one is the Se Kon although that one goes through Laos first.


Corrected entry: Unfortunately, the most striking scene in this - or any other - film is complete nonsense. During the helicopter attack they play "Ride of the Valkyries" on an ordinary tape deck through two smallish stereo speakers in order to scare the enemy prior to the attack. Okay, let's be clear - helicopters are LOUD. Very, very loud. The enemy would hear a flight of six helicopters approaching from thirty kilometers away. You simply could not play music loud enough to overcome the engine noise of 6 choppers, not without an enormous speaker rig and the power to run it. They are using bog standard home stereo speakers, not the huge bullhorn speakers used later in the war to intimidate the enemy. The music would be barely loud enough to be heard inside the helicopter, let alone outside it. This does not refer to the music playing on the film's soundtrack; Kilgore makes it clear he is playing music from the helicopter and he intends it to be heard by people on the ground.

Correction: The speakers featured in the movie are actually "sonic weapon" high output transducers made for the military. The detail is correct in every way, not 'bog standard' crap home speakers. Applied Electro company, Point of Rocks, MD, USA. They make one system that can be heard 6 miles out from aircraft.

They are store bought store home speakers, nothing like the "sonic weapon" speakers used later in the war.

The speakers seen in the movie immediately after the music starts are solidly mounted to the helicopters in racks that are obviously not "store bought stereo home speakers" (or at the very least, have been made to appear as specialized equipment for the movie.) It is possible they aren't even functioning speakers at all and just a movie prop, but they have been adequately made to look like they are capable of broadcasting the music at a very loud volume.

Corrected entry: On the morning after the USO show, a helicopter is shown hovering above and behind the bleachers. The helicopter is an OH-58 Kiowa. This helicopter was not used in Vietnam during that time. (01:11:22)

Correction: The OH-58A was first deployed to Vietnam in early Autumn 1969. The Kiowa operated with air cavalry, attack helicopter, and field artillery units. The OH-58A could also be configured as a troop transport, MedEvac, or for external lift missions using an external hook. Kiowas were commonly paired with the AH-1G Huey Cobra. The Kiowa would fly low to draw enemy fire, "trolling for fire, mark the target, and call in the Cobra to attack. (source: http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/systems/aircraft/oh-58a.htm).

Corrected entry: As they approach the Vietnamese sampan Captain Willard says, "Well, let's forget routine now and let 'em go." You can see that there are no other boats to their right, however, in the next shot they pass a small boat on their right with two women in it. (01:34:35)


Correction: The small boat they pass was out of frame in the previous shot.

Casual Person

Corrected entry: After the Playboy helicopter takes off the second stuntman falls into the water facing the right of the screen. In the next shot he immediately pops out of the water facing the opposite direction. (01:10:55)


Correction: He was off-screen for a short moment when he was under the water, so it's easily plausible that the man changed orientation whilst he was swimming back up.

Casual Person

Corrected entry: As he follows Colonel Kilgore, a grenade explodes behind Captain Willard after someone shouts, "fire in the hole". The shadow of a crewmember can be seen getting out of the way on the left of the screen before the explosion. (00:28:25)


Correction: There are many extras shown in this scene, ranging from soldiers to Vietnamese people. The shadow could easily have come from one of them.

Casual Person

Corrected entry: After listening to Colonel Kurtz' voice Harrison Ford turns off the tape recorder with his left hand. In the next shot he's standing to the left of the tape recorder and not touching it at all. (00:14:20)


Correction: After Harrison Ford turns off the tape recorder and the shot cuts, he is mostly obscured up by Willard's head, due to him being in the centre of frame, so we can't actually see whether or not if Ford is touching the recorder or not or where his position is next to it.

Casual Person

Corrected entry: Just before Captain Willard shoots the injured Vietnamese woman on the sampan a crew member accidentally moves into the lower part of the shot as he crosses from the sampan into the PBR. (01:38:25)


Correction: It is not a crew member but Mr. Clean. Moments before Willard shoots the woman, Clean is on board the Sampan to assist Chef. Moments after, he is manning the gun on the stern of the ship. He must have moved from sampan to PBR, and this shot shows him doing so.

Corrected entry: Captain Willard says, "the VC knew his name by now and they were scared of him" as he marks his destination with an arrow on his map of the Vietnamese Cambodian border. The spot that he marks on this map is wrong because the boat follows the Nung River all the way to his destination at Kurtz' camp and there's no river anywhere near the spot he marks on this map. (01:18:45)


Correction: When he marks the map, he is marking the trail of Kurtz, not his final destination.

Corrected entry: As Captain Willard talks to the sergeant about getting some fuel he says, "I carry priority papers from Com-Sec intelligence II-Corp". "II-Corp" is left out in the closed captioning. (01:05:20)


Correction: Subtitles often omit words if there are too many to fit on the screen; this is a subtitling choice, and is not a mistake.

Corrected entry: Willard is tearing the confidential mission paper into large pieces and throws them into the river. The pieces are large enough to reveal a lot of information or to be easily pieced together if picked up. The proper way to dispose of secret information would be to burn the pieces of paper.

Airborne Ranger

Correction: True. But it's made clear several times that Willard isn't exactly the "model" officer. He probably knows full well they could be read, but couldn't care less.


Corrected entry: Willard is fully decked out with American gear and weaponry. This should not have been allowed; American personnel operating covertly in Laos and Cambodia were carefully re-equipped with enemy, untraceable, or foreign weapons (e.g. the Swedish K submachine gun) and clothing. If they were captured or killed, the USA could then deny any knowledge of these technically illegal missions - much harder to do if they're sporting an army-issue M16 and regulation clothing.

Correction: There are several possible explanations: The M-16 could belong to the PBR. But M-16s were very much in use also on covert operations. A Swedish submachine gun, as well as the sometimes used silenced Sten-gun, is as traceable to US forces as any American weapon. Willard's uniform is actually Cambodian, although widely used by US Special Forces.

Airborne Ranger

Correction: Tiger Stripes were ARVN uniforms, widely used by American Special Forces and LRRP units.

Corrected entry: When the PBR arrives at the supply station during a torrential downpour, there are several dry gaps where no rain is falling - a dead giveaway of a rain machine.

Correction: It was real rain. This part of the film was nearly never made as the entire set was being washed away on a daily basis, as well as the cast and crew suffering all sorts of dirty water related illnesses. Tropical rain storms do sometimes appear as bombardments or torrents of water like this.

Corrected entry: During the scene where the PBR crew shoots up the Sampan, Clean's M-60 machine gun is loaded with blanks. The tips of the linked cartridges being fed into the gun are red, in other words not live rounds. It was mentioned that red tipped rounds are red 7.62 tracer rounds, but no ammo feed would consist entirely of tracers - they're only ever every 3 or 4 rounds. (01:34:24)

Correction: The rounds in the scene are definitely blanks, but personally I spent many a night with my door gunner reconfiguring our M-60 door gun ammo belts to full tracer rounds.

Corrected entry: When the air cav attacks the village, one of the huts is flying a North Vietnamese flag, yet they are in South Vietnam, and the Viet Cong wouldn't be dumb enough to fly the 'enemy' flag where everyone can see it. (00:39:53)

Correction: The village is a known Viet Cong fortress. Kilgore has already said that American boats are fired at every time they pass. Flying a North Vietnamese flag isn't telling the Americans anything they don't already know.

Corrected entry: The Frenchmen with the accordion says, "Dien Bien Phu is a trap" but the closed captioning is wrong and reads "that serious". (02:08:20)


Correction: That is a subtitling error, and not a mistake within the movie.


Continuity mistake: In the playboy bunny scene, the helicopter's main rotor keeps on starting and stopping. (01:06:39)

More mistakes in Apocalypse Now

Willard: Hey soldier, do you know who's in command here?
Soldier: Ain't you?

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Apocalypse Now trivia picture

Trivia: The man shooting the movie during the attack on the beach who says "Don't look at the camera" is actually director Francis Ford Coppola. (00:25:38)

More trivia for Apocalypse Now

Question: Why was only one officer (Captain Willard) sent to assassinate Colonel Kurtz? Isn't it very unlikely for a captain like Willard to be able to kill a powerful and influential and "insane" colonel like Kurtz?


Chosen answer: Kurtz was protected by political connections and his military record from being relieved of command, and the Montagnard people whose village he was in were considered American allies, so they couldn't just send a force in to kill him or relieve him of command, but an individual assassin. (The US Government's "official" policy is that they do not engage in assassination, which is why "this mission does not exist, nor will it ever exist").

Captain Defenestrator

More questions & answers from Apocalypse Now

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