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Heart of Darkness written by Joseph Conrad and "Apocalypse Now" a movie directed by Francis Coppola are two works that parallel one another but at the same time reflect their own era in time and their creator's own personal feelings and prejudices. "Apocalypse Now" was released in 1979 after two years in the making, as Coppola's modern interpretation to Joseph Conrad's novel, Heart of Darkness (Harris). Conrad's book is an excellent example of the advances writers and philosophers made in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This advance deals with civilized humanity's ability to be prepared for and know the unknown. (Johnson) Comparatively, Copolla's movie does the same in the late 1970's. "Apocalypse Now" dares to breach the edges of soldier sanity in a stressful and protested Vietnam War.
One of the many similarities between Heart of Darkness and "Apocalypse Now" is race. Joseph Conrad and Francis Coppola both use white men as the characters that have dominance (Bradley). The white men not only dominate their respective crews, but also the peoples native to the country the white men are visiting. The character Conrad uses, Marlow, and Coppola uses his character, Willard, both look at the natives as though white men are the civilized culture and the native people are the savage culture (Franklin). Both works also reflect the theory that "civilized" white men that go into an uncivilized land become savage and do not return to white civilization. An example of this that is in the book is MarlowÕs appointment with the doctor. The doctor measures Marlow's skull to compare its size at the present time to the size of his skull upon his return from the Congo. The thought is that a civilized manÕs skull is a different size than a savage's skull. When Marlow asks the doctor how what the results of this test have been in the past, the doctor comments that there are none because no civilized person has ever returned from the Congo. An example of this in the movie is when Willard faces his own personality of whether or not to complete his soldierly mission of killing Kurtz or to abort it. If he completes the mission he is still civil, if he does not, the Vietnam jungle has conquered him. The first soldier that is sent to kill Kurtz did not kill Kurtz, but in fact became one of his followers.
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It is difficult to Heart of Darkness without the mention of "Apocalypse Now". Parallels in the movie and novel tie them together as a modern version or revision of an older masterpiece. A comparison of this is Shakespeare's play version of Romeo and Juliet written in 1595 and Baz Luhrmann's 1996 film version of the same work. It is perplexing that the story is lifted from the pages of a book and placed in a completely different context, is written and engineered in a way that retains some of the ideas and themes that Conrad addressed in his book.
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