The ending on Apocalypse Now plunge the viewer as deeply into the heart of darkness as he or she has been since the beginning of the film. There is a sense of horror, but also a sense of having one's face rubbed in that horror. The ending on Heart of Darkness, however, is different as marlow lies to the Intended and withholds the horror from her:
Willard similarly represents a view that transcends that of his audience because he was there--he has been to the heart of darkness and returned.
Gekoski, R.A. Conrad: The Moral World of the Novelist. New York: Barnes and Noble, 1978.
Apocalypse Now, like Heart of Darkness, amounts to a journey, a quest the ramifications of which emerge from the gloom only as each step is completed. Willard's brief is to "terminate the colonel's command--with extreme prejudice." For Marlow, "it was written when I could be loyal to the nightmare of my choice." For both travelers, the discovery of Kurtz will lead to a confrontation with their innermost self (Cowie 136).
LaBrasca, Robert. "Two Visions of 'The horror!'" In Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness, 288-293. New York: W.W. Norton, 1988.
Palmer, John A. Joseph Conrad's Fiction: A Study in Literary Growth. New York: Ithaca, 1968.
Captain Willard is the Marlow of the film. He is sent not by a fiancTe and not by a force of light but by a conspirator in the darkness, presumably a combination of the army and the CIA. Willard is also sent--his assistance is not requested but ordered. The film and the novel have numerous parallels and the same general structure:
Like his namesake in Heart of Darkness he has discovered that the consequence of rejecting his humanity to live and fight like an animal is that life has become meaningless and empty. He has faced the challenge of darkness only to be engulfed by it (Dorall 307).
And so Heart of Darkness ends with the suggestion that truth is unendurable in the context of everyday life, that what one needs in order to mai