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Francis Ford Coppola’s "Apocalypse Now": a Translation of "Heart of Darkness"

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Francis Ford Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is the 1979 epic Vietnam War film based on the novel Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. However the word ‘based’ as to be called into question as the two differ quite dramatically. The periods in which the two stories are about are completely different, within 70 years of each other, as is the setting and the circumstances. However, through the ideas of savagery and madness character, plot, and the themes which both pieces seem to convey the two stories are very similar and it is clear that Coppola was heavily influenced by Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.
Conrad’s, Heart of Darkness is an excellent tale that demonstrates the difference to what we believe to be an ideal within civilisation and the actual reality of it which is shown through the acts of torture, exploitation and the demeaning and shameful treatment of Africans. Conrad tries to explore the idea of what we believe to be civilised and what we believe to be primitive and savage and shows us that what happened in Africa was not civilised but in fact primitive. Heart of Darkness is narrated by its main protagonist, Marlowe, who is a well trained and seasoned mariner. In Coppola’s ‘Apocalypse now’ the story is focused and narrated by the main character Captain Willard who is a trained U.S. Army operative assigned with the task of going from Vietnam to Cambodia up the Nung river, with the order to kill Colonel Walter Kurtz who as seemingly gone insane. Unlike Kurtz, Marlowe’s character is renamed in Apocalypse now and this is because the two characters, although going on a similar physical journey, are do differ from one and other. Willard, it seems does not share the same philosophical and meaningful insights that Marlowe does on his jo...


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... although obviously not strictly a remake, The African Congo and all of the characters in the book can be seen in Apocalypse now. Putting aside the noticeable differences both stories portray a very similar journey into a savage jungle and an even tougher journey into the characters self. Although the two stories are located in very different parts of the world, in different periods, both of the main characters faced a multitude of varying events that changed their outlook. In Heart of Darkness, Marlow, it seems, learned the value of his life and the overall effects that one individual can have on another. However at the end of Apocalypse Now we are left with a slightly different view of Willard, one that seems to show a disregard for human beings and it’s safe to say that his journey would have put him in a much ‘darker’ place than he was to begin with.







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