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A Suitable Leader for a Diverse People in Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness

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Joseph Conrad and Francis Ford Coppola both seek to portray the darkness within an individual. Coppola’s film, Apocalypse Now, parallels Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in a modern manner. However, through the use of film as a medium, Coppola makes his portrayal more accessible to the audience. It is more accessible because it takes place during an actual time period in history which makes the plot—to a certain extent—relatable to the audience, and because the audience can visually see the transformation that characters undergo when submitting to their inner darkness. Savagery and insanity are predators who feast on the souls of their prey which in both of these works happen to go by the name of Kurtz. Their insanity, fueled by greed and power, causes them to commit heinous acts of violence, allows themselves to become idolatrous gods to their followers, and it eventually kills them. Their cruelty is preceded by characters who speak with complete adoration towards them. These characters are the Russian in Heart of Darkness and the photojournalist in Apocalypse Now. The scenes where the search parties meet them are important because within these scenes lies the first impression of Kurtz. While both of these characters are fairly different in their appearance, speech, and location, they share similarities in the way that they contribute to the barbarity that has taken over Kurtz as depicted by Coppola and Conrad.
The differences between the two characters are obvious. The Russian is very young, and he has a religious background (“was now reconciled with the arch-priest” (Conrad 127)). The photojournalist seems to be in his forties, and his background seems to be one of counterculture. The significance of the age difference is that the...


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...cters are highly impressionable in that they have a more advanced mind than the natives that follow Kurtz, and they still become his disciples even though he is obviously disturbed. They have lost all sense of reality and have joined Kurtz’s following. The comparisons between the Russian and the photojournalist create a sense of helplessness towards anyone who submits to the savage effects of imperialism. The variances between them show that any man of sound mind and body can fall into the vicious cycle of irrationality. Even though the American is more mature, they both succumb to the cult-like nature of Kurtz and his “children.” They contribute to the madness behind Kurtz in that they make it seem less severe is portrayed.



Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph, Joseph Conrad, and Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness ; & the Secret Sharer. New York: Doubleday &, 1910. Print.


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