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Apocalypse Now Quotes on the Double Standards of War

These Apocalypse Now quotes will give you a glimpse into the dark, ironic reality of war.

Conflict has been a brutal and sometimes necessary part of the human saga since our beginning.

Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is a classic film that has been described by many as the greatest anti-war film ever, but Coppola himself disagrees. In a 2019 interview, he noted how “An anti-war film cannot glorify war, and Apocalypse Now arguably does. Certain sequences have been used to rev up people to be warlike.”

It has been over 40 years since the film came out, and while the film initially was considered innovative and experimental, Coppola laments how “What is considered avant-garde in one moment, 20 years later is used for wallpaper and becomes part of the culture. It seemed that’s what had happened with Apocalypse.”

Whatever your stance is on the film, these Apocalypse Now quotes force us to consider the absurdity and double standards of war.

Don’t forget to also check out these war quotes from writers, politicians, and more

The best Apocalypse Now quotes

1. It’s judgment that defeats us.”

2. “Have you ever considered any real freedoms?”

3. “Freedoms from the opinion of others… even the opinions of yourself?”

4. “You can either surf, or you can fight!”

5. “He had only two ways home: death or victory.”

6. “He’s worse than crazy, he’s evil!”

7. “We train young men to drop fire on people!”

8. “Not with a bang, but with a whimper.”

9. “The heads. You’re looking at the heads.”

10. “The man is clear in his mind, but his soul is mad.”

11. “I love the smell of napalm in the morning. You know, one time we had a hill bombed, for 12 hours.”

12. “When it was all over, I walked up. We didn’t find one of ’em, not one stinkin’ dink body. The smell, you know that gasoline smell, the whole hill. Smelled like … victory.”

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13. “Oh man… the bullsh-t piled up so fast in Vietnam, you needed wings to stay above it.”

14. “If I say it’s safe to surf this beach, Captain, then it’s safe to surf this beach!”

15. “I hardly said a word to my wife until I said yes to a divorce.”

Apocalypse Now quotes from the war film

16. “You have to have men who are moral… and at the same time who are able to utilize their primordial instincts to kill without feeling… without passion… without judgment.”

17. “Any man brave enough to fight with his guts strapped to him can drink from my canteen any day.”

18. “I used to think that if I died in an evil place then my soul wouldn’t be able to make it to heaven.”

19. “The war was being run by a bunch of four-star clowns who were gonna end up giving the whole circus away.”

20. “Sometimes he goes too far. He’s the first one to admit it.”

21. “You’re an errand boy, sent by grocery clerks, to collect a bill.”

22. “My orders say I’m not supposed to know where I’m taking this boat, so I don’t.”

23. “Never get out of the boat.”

24. “I’m a little man, I’m a little man, he’s… he’s a great man! I should have been a pair of ragged claws scuttling across floors of silent seas.”

25. “I don’t care where it goes as long as it ain’t here.”

26. “Someday this war’s gonna end. That’d be just fine with the boys on the boat.”

27. “They weren’t looking for anything more than a way home.”

28. “I am beyond their timid lying morality, and so I am beyond caring.”

29. “Lieutenant, bomb that tree line about 100 yards back! Give me some room to breathe!”

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30. “I used to think that if I died in an evil place then my soul wouldn’t be able to make it to heaven.”

More Apocalypse Now quotes

31. “Why don’t you Americans learn from us – from our mistakes? Mon Dieux!”

32. “You understand, Captain, that this mission does not exist, nor will it ever exist…”

33. “I’m still only in Saigon… Every time I think I’m gonna wake up back in the jungle.”

34. “With your Army, your strength, your power, you could win if you want to! You can win!”

35. “The horror. The horror.”

36. “We must incinerate them. Pig after pig. Cow after cow. Village after village.”

37. “I watched a snail crawl along the edge of a straight razor. That’s my dream; that’s my nightmare. Crawling, slithering, along the edge of a straight razor… and surviving.”

38. “What are they gonna say about him? What are they gonna say? That he was a kind man? That he was a wise man? That he had plans? That he had wisdom?”

39. “Terminate with extreme prejudice.”

40. “Charlie didn’t get much USO. He was dug in too deep or moving too fast.”

41. “What do you call it when the assassins accuse the assassin? A lie. A lie and we have to be merciful.”

42. “As long as cold beer, hot food, rock ‘n’ roll, and all the other amenities remain the expected norm, our conduct of the war will only gain impotence.”

43. “When I was there all I could think of was getting back into the jungle.”

44. “Charging a man with murder in this place was like handing out speeding tickets in the Indy 500. I took the mission. What the hell else was I gonna do?”

45. “Been here a week now, waiting for a mission, getting softer.”

46. “I just wanted to learn to f–kin’ cook, man!”

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47. “Everyone gets everything he wants. I wanted a mission, and for my sins they gave me one.”

48. “What the hell do you know about surfing, Major? You’re from goddamned New Jersey!”

“It’s impossible for words to describe what is necessary to those who do not know what horror means. Horror. Horror has a face and you must make a friend of horror. Horror and moral terror are your friends. If they are not, then they are enemies to be feared.”

49. “They told me that you had gone totally insane, and that your methods were unsound.”

50. “My orders say I’m not supposed to know where I’m taking this boat, so I don’t! But one look at you, and I know it’s gonna be hot!”

Which of these Apocalypse Now quotes is your favorite?

This is a film that gives us a glimpse into the dark, ironic reality of war. Some of the most remarkable scenes from the movie that truly personify the futility and irony of war are when Lt. Colonel Kilgore sees the young Vietnamese girl throw a grenade into one of the helicopters and calls her a “savage” while he literally attacks an unarmed innocent village with a napalm order, or when Colonel Kurtz reflects on how “We train young men to drop fire on people, but their commanders won’t allow them to write ‘fuck’ on their airplanes because it’s obscene.”

Critics have deemed Apocalypse Now as a classic film, and while many view it as an anti-war film because of the graphic depictions of the conditions in Vietnam, Coppola notes that an anti-war movie “shouldn’t have sequences of violence that inspire a lust for violence. Apocalypse Now has stirring scenes of helicopters attacking innocent people. That’s not anti-war.”

What’s your biggest takeaway from these Apocalypse Now quotes and lines? Do you have any other favorite quotes to add? Let us know in the comment section below.

Clifton Sankofa
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