Can you survive this "Apocalypse Now" movie quiz?


By: Olivia Cantor

6 Min Quiz

Image: Zoetrope Studios, American Broadcasting Company

About This Quiz

The very grand, controversial, and critically-acclaimed film, "Apocalypse Now," left an important mark in global pop culture. While it was made in 1979, its imprint is still felt. Think you can dive into the depths of this film? Then take this quiz and find out!

Where do the events in "Apocalypse Now" begin?

The movie starts  in Vietnam, around 1968. It's no surprise that the mood of the entire movie is something along the lines of "War is Hell," given the history that played out as America lost the Vietnam War.


When we first meet Captain Benjamin Willard, what's happening to him?

It's obvious from the voice over and his actions, that Willard is showing signs of post-traumatic stress disorder. However, he is apparently waiting for a new mission, and he feels that the more he does nothing, the more he is getting off his edge.


If you're wondering who's portraying Willard, you may know him better as Uncle Ben Parker, or as an American president on TV. Who is he?

Martin Sheen wasn't the original actor for Willard, as that honor goes to Harvey Keitel. After some time, Keitel exited from the role, and since Sheen was a favorite for the role aside from Keitel, he eventually became the Willard we all know.


What was Willard's new top-secret mission?

From how Willard is described in his dossier, he is a special agent. And his new mission is to kill a certain Col. Kurtz.


Why was Kurtz the target of a "cleanup?”

Kurtz, a decorated and brilliant military man, has, as the intel officers say, reached his breaking point. He's been killing people without approval from his commanders, and is now seen as a god of sorts by the locals.


He was the Godfather. "In Apocalypse Now," he's the crazy Col. Kurtz. Who is this actor?

Marlon Brando played the "villain" of the movie, Col. Kurtz. His keen acting and line delivery made him a near-perfect choice for this film. On the other hand, his off-screen shenanigans while shooting "Apocalypse Now" were legendary.


What does General Corman say is the reason for Kurtz going crazy?

General Corman spells it out in extremely simple terms. Kurtz, for him, has reached the point where he has a hard time distinguishing good from evil.


What makes the top-secret operation even more cloudy?

Willard is told that he has the full permission to kill Kurtz in any way possible. Also, the mission, while it has been assigned, will never be in any official report. This is probably due to Kurtz having once been a decorated soldier.


Blink and you'll miss it: Which "Star Wars" space smuggler played an intelligence officer in "Apocalypse Now?"

Harrison Ford played an intelligence officer in "Apocalypse Now." Though he actually took on the role before coming in as Han Solo in Star Wars, the editing and postproduction for the movie took so long that it was released after 'Star Wars."


What made this kill mission different from the others, for Willard?

Willard, in his mind, admits to the audience that he's killed others before. However, this time, it will be an American, and a military officer. He finds it darkly funny that Kurtz is wanted for murder in a war zone.


How was Willard going to get to his target?

Willard was given Kurtz's general location, but getting there would require going through active war zones. And that's not even counting Kurtz's own loyal forces.


When start their mission, they meet Col. Kilgore, one of the most memorable characters in the movie. What makes him such a standout?

Col. Kilgore is an old-school, tough-as-nails soldier. He doesn't even duck when artillery fire lands nearby. On the other hand, he has this thing about surfing.


What was a sly reference to military propaganda in the film, as Willard and his team were arriving at the starting point of their mission?

A camera crew was on hand when Willard and his team joined up with the Ninth Air Cavalry. Apparently, they were filming mock war footage for the evening news in America.


Robert ___ is the Hollywood actor who portrayed the wacky Lt. Kilgore.

Robert Duvall played the crazy Lt. Kilgore. He's made a name for himself in Hollywood for playing offbeat roles, starting with Boo Radley in the classic, "To Kill A Mockingbird."


Where is Col. Kurtz's base located?

Col. Kurtz's operations and his base were located in Cambodia. In the movie, he is described as killing intelligence operatives, some of whom were not proven to be working for the other side. Cambodia is currently known for its ancient city of Angkor Wat, tourism, and the local food scene.


With what is Kilgore strangely obsessed, even in a war zone?

Kilgore had a strange obsession with surfing. He even ordered some men to try out the surf as the military forces landed by chopper. Wacky!


Kilgore utters this now-classic line from the film: "I love the smell of napalm in the ___."

"I love the smell of napalm in the morning," Lt. Kilgore says.


Why does Kilgore love the smell of napalm in the morning?

This is just one more example of who war changes people forever.


Why was Kilgore talking to Lance, one of Willard's team, about surfing?

Lance is an example of the many kinds of soldiers in the Vietnam War. He was a bona fide surfing champ, prior to being drafted.


The night before Willard's team was to set out, what other weird thing did Kilgore do?

Willard had reservations about the beach party, complete with beer and T-bone steaks, on the simple reason that it wouldn't make the soldiers feel at home -- it would make them miss it more.


Willard was assigned a few men to his team. One of them is a 17-year-old African-American teen from the Bronx. The actor who played the part grew up to be one of Hollywood's formidable actors. Who is he?

A lanky Laurence Fishburne, credited as Larry Fishburne, portrayed Mr. Clean. He grew up to be a star on TV's "CSI," as well as Morpheus in "The Matrix" films.


Boys will be boys: Someone noticed a group of soldiers sitting on their helmets as they flew in a helicopter. What was their reason for doing that?

A hitchhiking soldier asked the team inside a helicopter the reason why they sat on their helmets. It's apparently to protect their private parts in case something blows up around them.


Vietnam soldiers often refer to "Charlie." Who is Charlie?

The code for the enemy Viet Cong during the Vietnam War was "Victor Charlie" for its initials, V.C. Soldiers shortened it to just "Charlie."


Why is Kilgore not too worried about the enemy protecting the area he wanted to take over?

It may be Kilgore's way of dealing with the horrors of war. When asked why he wasn't worried about enemy resistance at the beach, he simply says "Charlie don't surf!"


What does Willard do for Lance, the surfer champ, as a prank?

Willard decides to steal a surfboard for Lance. It leads to a lighthearted scene in the movie, where Kilgore is using a chopper and its loudspeakers to kindly ask Willard, Lance and the rest of the team to bring back his board.


During their up-river trip pitstop, what attacks Willard and his team member, Chef, while they were looking for fruit away from the boat?

Willard and Chef were attacked by a tiger. They got back to the boat safely, but Chef was unhinged by the situation.


While on the way to his mission, as Willard keeps on reading about Kurtz, what becomes clear?

As Willard kept reading Kurtz's files, he began to see that he was a dedicated and skilled soldier. Perhaps his only weakness was taking too much initiative. Something obviously broke him.


When the boat team stopped at the supply depot, to what was Willard's team treated?

The boys were treated to a USO program that was being set up in the depot when they arrived. The United Service Organization, or USO, has been setting up entertainment shows for American soldiers since the world wars.


What kind of specialized adult entertainment was set up by the USO at the supply depot?

Willard's team was treated to a show with three Playboy Playmates who were sent over to entertain the troops. The show spins out of control as the men all try to get their hands on the girls, asking them to sign their centerfolds.


One of the soldiers is nicknamed Chef, for his culinary skills. What was Chef's gastronomic specialty?

Chef was a saucier before being drafted into the army. He had hoped to find mangoes to turn into special sauce, before he and Willard encountered the tiger in the jungle.


Who was the welcoming party in Kurtz's base camp?

A photographer greeted Willard and the remaining team once they reached Kurtz's camp. He was played by a young Dennis Hopper.


What finally proves to Willard that Kurtz has gone over the line?

Willard sees piles of dead people all over the place. This convinces Chef — and probably Willard — that Kurtz really does deserve to die.


If it seemed like he had failed his mission, what were Willard’s orders to his team?

Willard apparently had a failsafe option, just in case his skills at assassination would fail. He had bombing coordinates, and all it would take would be to radio them in.


What is Willard's final assessment of Kurtz?

Willard figures out that Kurtz is probably an extremely stressed out and traumatized soldier, much more than he himself is. Kurtz might not be totally evil, just totally broken.


What do Kurtz's last words, "the horror, the horror," mean?

As Kurtz talked to Willard, it is actually the movie speaking to the audience, about how humanity has a dark side that will always be there. In this case, the audience is presented with Kurtz, as an example.


Explore More Quizzes

About Zoo

Our goal at is to keep you entertained in this crazy life we all live.

We want you to look inward and explore new and interesting things about yourself. We want you to look outward and marvel at the world around you. We want you to laugh at past memories that helped shape the person you’ve become. We want to dream with you about all your future holds. Our hope is our quizzes and articles inspire you to do just that.

Life is a zoo! Embrace it on