Comparison of the film Apocalypse Now and the book Heart of Darkness

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Comparisonof the film Apocalypse Now and the book Heart of Darkness

“ApocalypseNow” is a film that was produced in the year 1979 and whose majorsynopsis featured war. Actually, it is a war film. The film ismajorly about Captain Benjamin who is seen to be on a mission to takeout Colonel Walter Kurtz. Colonel Kurtz is a rebel who is seen to beout of his mind. The film is seen as a recap of a certain book Heartsof Darkness which was written in the year in 1899 by Joseph Conradand whose storyline is about a sail in the River Congo somewhere inthe heart of Africa. An obvious similarity in the two pieces ofliterature is the use of a similar character by the name Kurtz. Thisessay will be looking into the similarities and the differencesbetween the book and the film.

Inthe Apocalypse, Captain Willard is compared with Marlow of the novelwritten by Conrad. In this case, there seems to be a big differencenot only in the nature of their missions but also in the reasons thatthey undertook the missions. Willard was already an experiencedwarrior and his mission in the war was to try to eliminate hisfellow, Kurtz, which was actually propagated by the fact that hissoul was already evil and could not get any better as he progressed.On the other hand, Marlow`s was just on a sail, which he undertookbecause he was an experienced sailor.

Aswe have sighted above, each of these two characters had a history andthese were very instrumental in their respective involvements in themissions(Sieve27-32).Captain Willard was already an experienced warrior and was picked bythe secret service due to experience in the military. On the otherhand, Marlow`s prowess in sailing was what pushed him to undertakethe voyage.

Thetwo men are thus seen to possess close to parallel personalitiesevident from the difference in their missions in terms of how we viewthem. For instance, from the fact that Willard was on a mission toeliminate his fellow, and was actually an experienced war man, we candeduce that he was a no-nonsense kind of individual who did not fancytoo much interaction with people. We can associate Marlow with akind-heartedness form of personality as that showcased by sailors.

Similaritiesand Differences of Kurtzes

Inas much as the movie and the book have a similar story line, it isworth noting that there are little differences regarding how the twomissions were carried out and also the experiences of both CaptainWillard and Marlow. In both cases, Willard and Marlow are obsessedwith Kurtz but they did not know the kind of man that Kurtz was. Thesimilarity is that both Kurtzes had been morally corrupted becausenone of them turned out to have a clean heart in the end. Thedifferences are seen in the manner in which one of them has changed.For Kurtz in the book, he finds himself getting involved in ivorytrade which is dark and evil and this is made worse by the fact thathe did this only to suit himself. On the other hand, Kurtz in themovie views himself as superior to other human beings and goes to theextent of making them worship him as a god. Kurtz in the movie isviewed to have gone more insane compared to his counterpart in thebook, due to the extent he goes.

TheKurtzes seem to now be acting like monsters because their actionsportray beings that have no humanity in them.

Itis quite clear that none of the Kurtzes is willing to go back tocivilization as both seem to have established base in the respectiveforeign lands. In the end, they both die though one is killed.However, Kurtz in the book has the chance to give Marlow a message totake home. It however turns out that he is selfish as he is moreconcerned about himself very much to the disappointment of Marlow. Onthe other hand, it is seen that Kurtz in the movie was not as fierceas he was thought to be but only wanted some power over his fellowhumans. They both die in the end anyway.

Atthe beginning of both stories, we are anxious to find out the kind ofpersons that the Kurtzes are which we eventually do as the eventsunfold. Kurtzes choice to live in isolation and have control overboth ivory trade for the Kurtz in the book and be a god for the Kurtzin the movie tells us how selfish the two characters are. It alsoportrays them as traitors.


Inthe end of the two literary works analysis, we can conclude that bothFrancis Ford Coppola and Joseph Conrad had similar thoughts whilecoming up with these pieces, as the stories do not vary in such a bigway. They have a similar story line, but there are a few differences.One instance is the manner in which Kurtz dies in both stories andour major shock comes in the realization of the types of characterswe later come to find out that the Kurtzs are. They even give usdifferent view of the characters that the main characters in bothstories possess as opposed to what we thought them to be before. Inthe end we find out that Kurtz was not a good being in the endbecause in both cases his actions were geared towards fulfilling hisown personal desires.


Sieve,Brandon. &quotHearts Of Darkness: A Filmmaker’S Apocalypse&quot.FilmMatters3.3 (2012): 27-32. Web.

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