Apocalypse Now 5 Plot Point Breakdown

Apocalypse Now 5 Plot Point Breakdown

A Chapter by Keaton S. Ziem

A strictly informative piece I wrote for thescriptlab.com; its only purpose is to outline story structure.


Screenplay Genre: Drama / War

Movie Time: 194 minutes


Cpt. Benjamin Willard (Martin Sheen), returns to Vietnam for his second tour and waits for his new mission in Saigon. Willard is finally called upon and given a top-secret mission to seek out Col. Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando), who has gathered around him a tribe of indigenous Cambodian warriors who worship and fight for Kurtz in his own war fought entirely without U.S. military approval, and is told to “terminate the colonel’s command with extreme prejudice.” (0:17:38)

2. LOCK IN (End of Act One)

Willard rendezvous with the boat and the crew that will take him up river to Kurtz, and also with the Air Cavalry, commanded by Lieutenant Col. Bill Kilgore (Robert DuVall). Willard and the boat’s crew watch as Kilgore’s cavalry decimates a small Vietnamese village within a matter of minutes, destroyed only for the sole purpose of allowing one of the boat’s crew members, Lance B. Johnson (Sam Bottoms), an opportunity to surf some of the best waves in Vietnam. However; Willard, Lance and the rest of the crew escape from Kilgore’s madness, and begin their journey up the river and toward Kurtz. (0:49:40)


Willard’s mission leads the crew to the final American outpost on the river; a precariously built bridge where Lieutenant Carlsen (Glenn Walken) waits to deliver the final dossier for Willard’s mission. Willard and Lance get off the boat to have a look around. On their walk, it becomes increasingly clear that no one is in charge of this outpost; every night Charlie blows up the bridge, the U.S. military rebuilds it just to say “the road is open.” Chief Phillips (Albert Hall), the boat’s captain, asks Willard once more which way to go, and they all continue further up the river. (1:44:11)

4. MAIN CULMINATION (End of Act Two)

Finally, Willard explains his mission to the only two remaining crew members of the boat; Lance and Jay ‘Chef’ Hicks (Frederic Forrest), and the very next day they arrive at their destination. They are greeted by the village natives, painted white, and a neurotic Photojournalist (Dennis Hopper). It doesn’t take long before Willard is dragged through the mud by the villagers and taken before Kurtz to explain his mission. (2:31:22)


The longer Willard is held in Kurtz’ camp, the more uncertain he becomes of the ethics behind his mission to assassinate Kurtz, until finally it is Kurtz himself who convinces Willard what to do. So, while the villagers undergo a sacrificial dance and ceremony, Willard seeks out Kurtz in order to terminate his command. (2:58:28)

© 2011 Keaton S. Ziem

My Review

Would you like to review this Chapter?
Login | Register

Request Read Request
Add to Library My Library
Subscribe Subscribe


Added on October 2, 2011
Last Updated on October 2, 2011
Tags: Apocalypse Now, film, structure, story, plot, breakdown, movies, cinema, vietnam, screenwriting, thescriptlab.com, outline


Keaton S. Ziem
Keaton S. Ziem

Los Angeles, CA

I was raised in a cabin in one of the largest Ponderosa Pine forests in the continental United States. I had nothing to do with the amount of trees that grew there. I am an only child with two brot.. more..