YMMV: Apocalypse Now

  • Adaptation Displacement: This movie is considerably more well-known than the book it's based on.
  • Award Snub:
    • People are still pissed that this lost Best Picture to Kramer Vs Kramer. Nowadays, Apocalypse Now is pretty much frequently ranked as one of the best films of all time and the best war movie ever in polls such as the American Film Institute and Sight and Sound.
    • Robert Duvall's loss for Best Supporting Actor could also be seen as this. Granted, Melvyn Douglas was great in Being There, but Colonel Kilgore has unquestionably become a more iconic figure in American cinema (with some referring to it as the best performance of Duvall's career).
      • Duvall winning a Golden Globe and BAFTA for his performance makes his Oscar loss even jarring.
    • Martin Sheen also failed to earn a Best Actor nomination.
  • Awesome Music: "The End" by The Doors, and of course Richard Wagner's Ride of the Valkyries.
  • Base Breaker: Redux, which is either loved or hated by fans of the film. In particular, the long interlude at the French plantation causes extreme disagreement among viewers.
  • Crazy Awesome: Colonel Kilgore shrugs off explosions and his major concern is clearing a beach site... in order to surf. Enough said, he has a trope named after him.
  • Draco in Leather Pants: Kurtz receives a disturbing amount of apologetics from some in the fandom.
    • Colonel Kilgore can be seen as a rare "Heroic" version of this. He may be awesome but people seem to conveniently forget that his iconic scenes of "Ride of the Valkyries" and the "I love the smell of napalm in the mornin'" monolouge are pretty much him ordering a firebombing around a populated area (That likely included civillians as well as VC) because it was home to a beach that appealed to him because he thought it would be a great place to surf.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Okay, granted - this is, to say the least, a controversial position. But for a film so bereft of hope from the very beginning, Apocalypse Now ends surprisingly well for Willard, who manages to resist the powers of darkness and leaves Kurtz's camp even after all he's been through. Of course, he is still haunted by the line "The horror...The horror!" - just as in Conrad's Heart of Darkness - but Values Dissonance helps one to put this in perspective. Compared with the reception of the novel in 1902 - a far more idealistic time, when it was considered "dark" to even acknowledge the possibility of a Crapsack World - the reception of the film in 1979 and afterward suggests that the notion that one can be relentlessly tempted and heartbreakingly disillusioned yet still retain one's humanity almost counts as a happy ending in a much less idyllic time.
  • Memetic Mutation:
    • Many of the film's Signature Lines are now popular / internet culture.
      • "I love the smell of napalm in the morning"
      • "Charlie don't surf"
      • "The horror, the horror"
      • "Terminate with extreme prejudice" (not invented by the movie, but popularized by it)
    • Kurtz's facepalm has become synonymous of epic fail.
  • Misaimed Fandom: The helicopter attack scene. Use of the Wagner music was actually intended to invoke The Birth of a Nation. But what did Coppola expect, using such Awesome Music?
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • What the helicopter raid on the village was intended to be. What the viewers saw it as, however.... The village probably qualifies as a legitimate military target, as it's stated outright to be a Viet Cong outpost, and even has several female combatants throwing a grenade into a medivac chopper, but then again the actual reasons for the attack (Colonel Kilgore and his bloody surfing) demean it all.
    • The Viet Cong's mercifully offscreen hacking the limbs off children who received vaccines from western doctors.
  • Music To Invade Vietnam To: The aforementioned Ride of the Valkyries scene. See Misaimed Fandom above.
  • Older Than They Think: The premise of the movie, as well as the famous line, "The horror... the horror...", are taken directly from Heart of Darkness.
  • One-Scene Wonder: The movie gets summed up as Robert Duvall showing up with his Wagnerian helicopters and other Crazy Awesome antics, and then Brando emerging from the shadows and monologuing. Reportedly, there's some other stuff in the middle too.
    • Two characters in particular have exactly only one scene. The first of which is the unnamed man in Willard's briefing who utters only one line of dialogue that made many viewers blood run cold. "Terminate... with extreme predujice." Which has become one of the movie's MemeticMutations and finally Roach. A soldier who single handedly kills a VC soldier in the distance witha grenade launcher without seeing him.
  • Tearjerker: Clean's death is heartbreaking. Both of which have become memorable characters.
  • This Is Vietnam On Drugs
  • True Art Is Angsty
  • Visual Effects of Awesome: The helicopter fight was filmed real helicopters and real explosions along with impressive helicopter shots of the extensive sets built, which makes it all the more impressive
  • What Do You Mean, It Wasn't Made on Drugs?: Averted. As noted, most of the people involved in this film were drunk or high during production.