Both the novel "Heart of Darkness" by Joseph Conrad and the movie "Apocalypse Now" are about one man's journey through the dark, cruel wilderness of Africa and Vietnam. Marlow's mission is to rescue Kurtz from up the Congo at the inner station, while Willard's is to terminate Kurtz's command up the Nung River, by any means necessary. Much parallelism can be found between the movie and the novel, yet also there are discrepancies that separate the two.
The characters of the two have different parts and roles but have related purposes toward the general themes of imperialism. Imperialism in both works shows the blinding of its oppressors and the arrogance to the truth of colonization. Through analysis and comparison of the characters a parallel of themes can be made between the novel "Heart of Darkness" and the movie "Apocalypse Now. " In "Heart of Darkness" there are two types of evils, the flabby pale skinned devil and the hollow red eyed devil.
In the novel the flabby devils are just there to leech off the system and make the best for themselves; the general manager is constantly trying to kill off Kurtz, not sending supplies and not wanting to make the journey to rescue him. These devils are just there benefiting for their own self-interest and do not have a clue on what they are really there to do. This is very much like the American soldiers in Vietnam seen in "Apocalypse Now. " Every single character in the movie excluding Willard, Kurtz, and the French family don't have a damn reason for being in Vietnam.
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They are all complete idiots that Kurtz refers as "dilettantes in war and tourists in Vietnam. As long as cold beer, hot food, rock and roll, and all other amenities remain the expected norm, our conduct of the war will gain only impotence. " All the soldiers are so blind to real situation at hand; they don't see each Vietnamese as a human race but instead as threats, "Charlie", "gooks. " Chef cries as he escapes the tiger in the jungle, "I didn't come here for this shit, I just wanted to cook. "
When he gets back to the boat, Clean automatically starts gunning away on the fifty caliber, showing that there is so much uncertainty nd insecurity in the darkness of the jungle. "Never get off the boat" depicts an image of fear. Kilgore thinks he is invincible to falling bombs and hot bullets; he only thinks about surfing and how his men need to surf as much as possible, therefore he takes a liking in Lance because he is a professional surfer. Lance is your stereotypical hippie who surfs and is drugged out the entire time, he is just in Vietnam for the ride. Tyrone Miller, Clean, is a young black teen straight out of high school, the war to him is just fun and games, killings gooks is his idea of entertainment.
Each one of these characters don't have a hint of what is happening around them, they are only there on vacation. This differs from the characters in "Heart of Darkness" because the flabby devils are in Africa scheming to gain more for themselves. The aware are Kurtz, the French family, and Willard. They all see right through the American army's motives and how the army is so blinded by its morality. When the crew comes upon the French family, Willard seems to learn something from them. The men of the household all speak of why they stay at the plantation.
One man says, "we made something, something out of nothing, we want to stay here because it's ours. It keeps our family together. While you, Americans, are fighting the biggest nothing in history. " When that is said Willard is able to understand that America has nothing worth fighting for in Vietnam. The French lost everything they had, so this family refused to lose their plantation. In "Heart of Darkness" there are no characters that fulfill the role of the family, but their ethics relate back to those of Kurtz. Kurtz is quite hesitant to leave the inner station.
The inner station is what he made something of. It is his own and no one could operate it the way he does. Kurtz plays the role of God in both the novel and movie. "There was nothing either above or below him, and I knew it. He had kicked himself loose of the earth. Confound the man! He had kicked the very earth to pieces. He was alone, and before him did not know whether I stood on the ground or floats in the air. " . This quote suggests that Kurtz, in his solitude, became free in his soul and was able to ascend above the average human. "Kurtz got off the boat.
He split off the whole fucking program. " Wrong and right did not mean anything to Kurtz for he had surpassed the perceptions of humankind. Kurtz had the power of life and death within his grips. This single man could conquer humankind. Kurtz's "soul was mad" and he chose an evil way to use the great power he obtained. The darkness corrupted Kurtz because the uncertainty of it allowed him to call each and every shot. What Kurtz and the French family show us is that Imperialism may alienate the oppressors but through being alone, something worth fighting for may come about.
The oppressed in the novel and movie, Africans and Vietnamese, seem to be most true to what they have got. In "Heart of Darkness" the cannibals that are on Marlow's boat resist the most powerful temptation of hunger when they are ambushed and a man on board is killed. The irony is that as the imperialists get greedier, the oppressed are able to keep self-control and keep their sanity. This is because they are only fighting for one thing, their lives. "Freedom? Bullshit. French, Bullshit. American, Bullshit. Dien Bien Phu, that's serious.
All soldiers know they are already dead. " "Charlie... he had only two ways home... victory or death. " These quotes from the movie underscore the degrading of the oppressed when under the forces of imperialistic powers. By understanding the characters and their differences in the novel "Heart of Darkness" and the movie "Apocalypse Now", connections can be found in their themes about imperialism. In imperialism all the confinements of being the oppressed intertwine with the guilt and faults of the oppressor.
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