In 1979, Francis Coppola released a film that he said he hoped "would give its audience a sense of the horror, the madness, the sensuousness, and the moral dilemma of the Vietnam war" (as quoted in Hagen 230). His film, Apocalypse Now, based on Joseph Conrad's 1902 novel Heart of Darkness, is the story of Captain Benjamin Willard's (Martin Sheen) journey to the interior of the jungle of Southeastern Asia for the purpose of executing his orders to track down Colonel Walter E. Kurtz (Marlon Brando). Once Kurtz is located, Willard is to "terminate his command with extreme prejudice" because Kurtz has raised an army of deserters and natives, whom he rules over like a fanatical war lord- When Willard finally reaches Kurtz's compound and meets him, he discovers a man who has descended into primitive barbarism. From the beginning of their encounter, Kurtz knows why Willard was sent to find him and makes no effort to stop Willard from slaying him with a machete. With his mission accomplished, Willard boards the boat that will take him. back to civilization.
Tim O'Brien's story "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong" is like Apocalypse Now in that it is also about a character who "crossed to the other side." Her name is Mary Anne and her boyfriend, Mark Fossie, has her shipped over to Vietnam to be with him. However, instead of reacting to the atmosphere of the war as Fossie thougbt she would, she becomes fascinated with the mystery of it, and over the course of the story is completely drawn in by the jungle's allure. Over a period of weeks, she disappears on ambushes with a nearby squad of Green Berets and when finally confronted by Fossie, he fi...
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...e Now (1979): Joseph Conrad and the Television War." Hollvwood As Historian: American Film in a Cultural Context. Ed. Peter C. Rollins. Kentucky: The University Press of Kentucky, 1983. 230-245.
O'Brien, Tim. "How to Tell a True War Story," Writing As Re-Vision: A Studenl's Anthology Ed. Beth Alvarado and Barbara Cully. Needham Heights, MA: Simon and Schuster Custom Publishing, 1996. 550-558.
__________. "Sweetheart of the Song Tra Bong,." The Things They Carried. New York: Viking Penguin. 1990. 101-125.
__________. "The Vietnam in Me." Writing As Re- Vision: A Student's Antholoqy. 559-571.
Phillips, Gene D. Conrad and Cinema: The Art of Adaptation. New York: Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., 1995.
Watts, Cedric. 'Heart of Darkness.' The Cambridge Companion to Joseph Conrad. Ed. J.H. Stape. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1996. 45-62.
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