Apocalypse Now And Heart Of Darkness? Essay

This essay has a total of 1130 words and 4 pages.

Apocalypse Now And Heart Of Darkness?

"A Compare and Contrast Essay on Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness"
Francis Coppola's Apocalypse Now was inspired by Joseph Conrad's novel Heart of Darkness
that informs the film throughout. A comparison and contrast can be made between the two.
Both have the same themes but entirely different settings. Heart of Darkness takes place
on the Congo River in the Heart of Africa while Apocalypse Now is set in Vietnam. The
stock characters in both have the same general personalities but have different names. Of
course, Kurtz is Kurtz, Willard parallels Marlow, and the American photojournalist
corresponds to the Russian Harlequin. Willard is a lieutenant for the US Army and Marlow
is a captain of a steamboat of an ivory company. The first images of Willard and Marlow
differ to some degree. The movie begins with Willard lying in an apartment room lost from
reality with the song ‘The End' playing by The Doors. He is haunted by his earlier deeds
and he is getting very drunk. Willard smashes the mirror while fighting himself and cuts
his hand. He collapses on the bed weeping. Marlow is portrayed as a wanderer of the sea.
The narrator described him to somewhat of a hero. Their mission is to find Kurtz and take
him down at all costs. In both stories Kurtz is a psychotic rebel, worshipped as a god,
who threatens the stability of his original unit, but in one it is an ivory trading
company and in the other it is the US Army. Kurtz, who had begun his assignment a man of
great idealism and the highest morals, had become strangely savage. Tribes of natives
worship the man who lives in a hut surrounded by fence posts topped with recently acquired
human skulls. Kurtz has undergone a total breakdown of the physical, psychological, and
spiritual. Along the trip into the wilderness, Willard and Marlow discover their true
selves through contact with savage natives. As Marlow ventures further up the Congo, he
feels like he is traveling back through time. He sees the unsettled wilderness and can
feel the darkness of its solitude. The movie ends quite differently than the novel. The
movie ends with a spectacular scene. During a native tribe's ritual sacrifice ceremony of
a water buffalo, The Doors' The End playing on the background, Willard finally kills Kurtz
with a machete. Willard exits to find the natives begin to worship him. This exhibits the
fisher king legend where man kills the king and becomes the king himself. But Willard
doesn't want any of this. Willard drops the machete and walks away. The movie ends when
Willard and Lance leave the camp in the boat. In the novel Kurtz dies of an illness, which
is quite different than the film. The novel ends with Marlow returning the United States,
keeping a promise he made to Kurtz before he died, where he speaks to Kurtz's intended and
tells her a lie. He tells her that his last words were her name.

Both stories are about a man's journey into his self, and the discoveries to be made
there. They are also about Man confronting his fears of failure, insanity, death, and
cultural contamination. In Heart of Darkness there is an outside narrator telling the
story that he heard Marlow tell. Conrad uses Marlow's imagery and objective observation to
establish a criticism of "civilized" society. The very opening paragraphs create a dark
image of London, the center of civilization during Conrad's time. The comparison between
the pilgrims and the cannibals on Marlow's ship yields another example of the savagery of
civilization. Marlow also exhibits a resolution of frankness and truth. Throughout the
novel he emphasizes his contempt for shallow, materialistic men, and his value on honesty.
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