Study Guide

Apocalypse Now Scene 14

Scene 14

Scene 14

The Horror

  • At night, outside, Kurtz's Cambodian followers prepare to sacrifice a water buffalo. At the same time, Willard prepares to kill Kurtz. He says that "the jungle" wants Kurtz dead, since "that's who Kurtz took his orders from anyway."
  • In a stunning visual, Willard's head slowly emerges from the river, face painted in camo colors, looking like the silent assassin he is.
  • He grabs a guard who's protecting Kurtz, dragging him into the darkness. (Maybe Willard kills him?)
  • He sneaks up behind Kurtz, who's in the process of making a radio transmission.
  • He hacks Kurtz with a farm implement at the same time that Kurtz's followers are killing the water buffalo in the same way.
  • As Kurtz lies dying, he utters his final words, "The horror…the horror."
  • Outside, the people continue cutting up the meat from the sacrifice.
  • Willard steps out of Kurtz's room and looks at a manuscript Kurtz has been writing. He sees that Kurtz has scribbled the words on one page, "Drop the bomb. Exterminate them all."
  • The Cambodians look at him, but don't make a move to hurt him as he walks out, holding the manuscript and the weapon he used to kill Kurtz.
  • They stare at one another for a while before Willard walks down the steps. They move out of his way as he walks through the crowd, putting down their weapons.
  • Willard pulls Lance out of the group and they both board the boat and leave.
  • The rain washes them as the radio babbles with the voices of the soldiers whom Chef tried to radio. Willard switches off the radio.
  • As the rain falls, they set out through the dark and fog, heading downriver.
  • We hear the echo of Kurtz's final words once more—"The horror…the horror"—superimposed on a close-up of Willard's camo-painted face.