Apocalypse Now describes the journey on an American patrol boat upwards a river in Vietnam and later Cambodia. It's the year 1969 and the mission is to assassinate a renegate US officer who stays anywhere in a remote jungle camp. The whole trip is allegoric for the Vietnam War, how crazy, brutal and futile it was. The movie has much of a dream, better spoken a nightmare and leads the viewer into the depths of state organized disaster and the resulting outbreak of the worst of what the human soul contains. Real war is even much worse than what is shown here, but it still gives a remarkable insight.
The story is based on Joseph Conrad's 19th century novel "Heart of Darkness", a story about the cruelties of colonialism, and adapts it to the brutalities of post-colonialism as it is nowadays. There is still no end of this kind of wars. Many of them were led in Latin America, Serbia (1999), Afghanistan (from 2001 on), Irak (2003) and it's yet latest example in Lybia (2011).