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Comparison of The Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

Francis Coppolas Apocalypse Now was inspired by Joseph Conrads 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 darkne...

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