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Elements of Darkness in Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness

Elements of Darkness in Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness

In both Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness certain elements of darkness attempt to show how deep one must look inside themselves to discover the truth. Conrad portrays the idea of the darkness of the human heart through things such as the interior of the jungle and it’s immensity, the Inner Station, and Kurtz’s own twisted deeds. Coppola’s heart of darkness is represented by the madness of the Vietnam War and how even to look for a purpose in it all; is itself quite mad.

It was no accident that a documentary was made on Francis Ford Coppola’s 1979 film, “Apocalypse Now” entitled “Hearts of Darkness- A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse” since the production of the film was something of a horrific journey for those involved. Throughout the production, the cast and crew were plagued by some serious problems. A typhoon that nearly destroyed the set, budget problems, suicide threats from Coppola, and Martin Sheen having a heart attack were just a few things that were faced during the filming. The descent into madness that went along with making “Apocalypse Now” mirrored the film’s own themes and also reflected the themes of “Heart of Darkness”, the Conrad novella that the film is based on. The theme of a journey into human darkness is something shared by both the film and the book but each tells the story in a different and unique way.

The basic plots of “Apocalypse Now” and “Heart of Darkness” are very similar. Both films have a main character that makes a journey down a long and winding river to find a man name Kurtz. In the film the protagonist is a Special Forces captain named Willard, in the book he is called Marlow. The film seems to have a more dir…

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… Darkness: A Filmmaker’s Apocalypse [Film]. Showtime/ Paramount.

Chatman, Seymour. “Two and a Half Versions of Heart of Darkness.” Conrad on Film. Ed. Gene M. Moore. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997.

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Editor Robert Kimbrough. New York: Norton, 1988.

Coppola, Francis Ford (Director, Co-author). 1979. Apocalypse Now [Film]. American Zoetrope/ United Artists.

Ruthven, K. K. ‘Elements of Darkness: Conrad and Lawrence,’ Critical Quarterly, x, nos 1

Light and Dark in Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness

Light and Dark in Heart of Darkness

Every story has a plot, but not every story has a deeper meaning. When viewed superficially, Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness is a tragic tale of the white man’s journey into the African jungle. When we peel away the layers, however, a different journey is revealed – we venture into the soul of man, complete with the warts as well as the wonderful. Conrad uses this theme of light and darkness to contrast the civilized European world with the savage African world in Heart of Darkness.

In Heart of Darkness, Conrad uses light and dark to symbolize good and evil, respectively. “It is whiteness that is truly sinister and evil, for it symbolizes the immoral scramble for loot by the unscrupulous and unfeeling Belgian traders in ivory and human flesh; the whiteness of ivory is also contrasted with the blackness of the natives whose lives must be destroyed for its sake” (Gillon 25).

Two central themes occur in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness. The first is the struggle between the white people and the native tribes, which plays in…

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…ok and also provides its title.

In Heart of Darkness, there is a real contrast between what is light and what is dark. These contrasts work within a reality of civilized and savage. It appears that light represents the civilized, and dark represents the uncivilized, but truly, white is evil, and the dark is innocent and virtuous.

Works Cited

Conrad, Joseph. Heart of Darkness. Middlesex, England: Penguin Publishers, 1983.

Gillon, Adam. (1982). Joseph Conrad. Twayne’s English Author Series: Number 333. Kinley E. Roby, ed. Boston: Twayne.

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