Essay on Heart of Darkness vs. Apocalypse Now

Submitted By geshlagot
Words: 837
Pages: 4

Throughout history, it has not been unusual for directors to base their movies on books written in the past. Francis Coppola’s Apocalypse Now is a loosely based interpretation of Joseph Conrad’s novella, The Heart of Darkness. All movies that are based on novels have their share of similarities and differences. Aside from all the differences that could be mentioned from Apocalypse Now and The Heart of Darkness, I feel that even though the movie was produced seventy-five years after the book was written, its basic elements remain closely in tact with the novella. However, in reality the movie is the replica of the book, and the book is certainly the original. Therefore, I would say the novella is definitely more affective than the movie. Let us explore the many similarities and differences between the two.

There are many aspects that can be compared between the movie and the novella. These include setting, characters, and more. The discrepancies between the settings are very clear. The novella was set in the latter part of the nineteenth century, in a wild African Jungle frontier tracking the experiences of a group of men abroad the Congo River. The filmmakers took this setting and adapted it into a hostile Vietnam War setting. Vietnam was similar to the geographical setting of Heart of Darkness. Climatically, Vietnam was similar to the central African Congo region, with hot, humid weather conditions. Vietnam was also able to feature the intense jungle seen in Heart of Darkness. The river and its use as a method of transportation was an element of the book that could be used in the Vietnam setting. Also, the presence of native peoples was used in the film. These basic features of setting were left largely unaltered for use in the film. Some features however, underwent changes in order to suit the time period in which Apocalypse Now was filmed. Despite all the similarities, there were a few differences in setting. The stations talked about in the novella-outer, central, and inner- were altered to fit the Vietnam setting. The outer station was represented by Lieutenant Kilgore's camp, the Du Lung Bridge represented the central station, and Kurtz's compound in Cambodia, represents the inner station.

Racism and prejudice were evident in both the movie and novella. Joseph Conrad and Francis Coppola both use white men as the characters that have power. In the novella, Conrad’s protagonist goes by the name of Marlow whereas in the movie, a captain named Benjamin Willard represents Marlow. Willard differs from Marlow in several ways. First, he is not the captain of the boat that takes him and a group of others up the river. Second, he does not reflect the deep psychological and philosophical insights that are visible in Marlow's character, and most importantly, he is sent on a mission specifically to kill Kurtz, unlike Marlow who journeyed to the Inner Station with intentions of only finding Kurtz. However, Willard and Marlow both have fascination that soon turned into an obsession with Kurtz. Also similar is the fact that Willard held the rank of captain, which is also Marlow's occupation. As to the character of Kurtz, the