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Apocalypse Now / Heart Of Darkness

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When Joseph Conrad sat down to write Heart of Darkness over a century ago he decided to set his tale amidst his own country's involvement in the African Congo. Deep in the African jungle his character would make his journey to find the Captain gone astray. Over eighty years later Francis Ford Coppola's Willard would take his journey not in Afica but in the jungles of South Asia. Coppola's Film, Apocalypse Now uses the backdrop of the American Vietnam War yet the similarities between the Conrad's novel and Coppola's film remains constant and plenty.

In 1899 when Conrad first published his story in Blackwood's Magazine the British Empire was the dominant global empire. To the common British man or any British man the emblem of savagry was indeed the place they deemed as the "Dark Continent" of Africa. The people that lived there had an entirely different style of living that did not involved the "civilized" methods of the British empire. The natives had not the manners, clothing, technowledgy nor skin color of Conrad's people. The environment in which they lived of much difference then the British isle. It was hot, humid, dense, exotic filled with dangerous creatures and most of all it was foreign. When Francis Ford Coppola began work on his film Apocalypse Now the dominant power in the world was no longer the British but the United States of America, the same state that was coming off a bloody war fought in Vietnam. To Coppola's United States Vietnam was barbarity. Soldiers returned with loss of limbs, loss of mind, dead or missing. Stories of rape, pillaging, burning and torture seeped out just on the part of the Vietnamese "savages" but of the civilized American soldiers, a testement to their envelopment in the Heart of Darkess that is war. Their unravelling of what makes them to be considered civilized and the exotic backdrop is not unlike the British and their exploits in Africa that go along with Conrad's novel.

The parellel's between Conrad's and Coppola's chosen settings even go right down into the backbone of the politcal background. British and United States policy has been to extend their hand of uprighteousness culture onto another. This is done by a brutal conquering and then reformation. In Apocalypse Now the line was used "Cut'em in half with a machine gun and give'm a band-aid." Destroy them and then fix them up or at very least give the appearance of help for world stage.

The man known as Marlow is the ever thinking expeditionist in Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Captain Benjamin Willard is the rugged soldier that exists as Marlow's likeness in Copolla's film . There are direct similiarities to these two men other then the fact that they are from dominant angelo powers and are directed on a mission to find a man gone missing. Both of these men are insightful and have an eye looking to those around them. Marlow doesn't entirely trust the company he works for the same that can be said about Willard as he does declare their words to be "Lies all Lies." Willard and Marlow are insightful



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