November 21, 2014
Parallels of Apocalypse Now
Francis Ford Coppola set out to create a movie depicting the horrors of the Vietnam War, and while trying to achieve this he modeled his story on the novel “Heart of Darkness” by Joseph Conrad. Using parallels of scenes between “Apocalypse Now” and “Heart of Darkness” Joseph Conrad enhances the power of Conrad’s themes as he presents the more powerful, effective words of the novel, in the film.
“Apocalypse Now” begins with Willard, the parallel to Marlow, at an army bunker that is isolated, wired off, and surrounded by troops. This mirrors Marlow as he goes to the company headquarters, which is located on a dark, deserted street. These scenes set the tone for a theme of isolation in both the novel and the film, separating the “hero” from the rest of the characters, creating feelings of loneliness. They also begin the uneasiness in the respective characters company, both not feeling completely comfortable working for their bosses, which is a sentiment that is carried out throughout both stories.
Upon meeting the supposed “great man” that is Marlow’s manager, he’s intrigued when he realizes that the manager only stands at five feet six inches tall, a very unimpressive size for a man that is working in the dangerous environment that is the Congo. Marlow realizes as he spends time with the manager that he’s incompetent for the position that he’s in as well as very corrupt. The character of Lieutenant Kilgore is the equivalent that Willard meets in Vietnam. He’s a very eccentric person, painting “death from above” on the front of his helicopter, and playing extremely theatrical music while attacking a North Vietnamese village. Kilgore shows a complete disregard for human life as he shows; he’s only concerned about surfing while in the middle of a warzone while both his men and the enemy are engaged in fighting. This is a strong similarity to the manager of the company in the Congo, as both are depicted as ruthless and coldblooded, not caring about the lives of those around them, only their own selfish goals. Both of these leaders believe in white superiority, and that the white men dominate over the natives of the land.
The biggest challenge that both characters face is their civility. They both have a fear that upon traveling to this land of natives they’ll lose their knowledge of society and civility. Marlow is