Home » Apocalypse Now » Essay about Comparison Of Apocalypse Now And Heart Of Darkness

Essay about Comparison Of Apocalypse Now And Heart Of Darkness

Although one is a book and the other is a movie, both Apocalypse Now which is directed by Francis Ford Coppola and Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad portray very detailed scenes by using various elements in their respective works. A key part that stands out is the events that lead to death of the helmsman which contains many similarities, but also many differences between the two works. Some similarities like the iconic fog serve to convey a message of the helplessness that the characters feel because of the mystery of their surroundings and uncertainly of their mission.

In Heart of Darkness, during their trip to the inner station, the crew experiences a thick fog which impedes them from advancing any further toward their destination. An important difference in the book is that both the general manager and Marlow come to a mutual consensus that the fog makes it too dangerous to go forward. This agreement between Marlow and the chief accountant symbolizes the fear that both men feel about the perils that the fog may conceal. This is supported by the author who highlights the dialogue between these two men with very different mindsets.

Meanwhile in the movie, only the helmsman believes that crew should wait until the fog lifts in order to advance. Furthermore Captain Willard (Martin Sheen) forces the helmsman to move onward stating, “You’re not authorized to stop this boat chief” (Francis Ford Coppola). This dialogue exposes how Willard is focused only on completing his mission and that he is willing to sacrifice the safety of the crew. Another important factor leading up to the death of the helmsman are the cries of the native people, which are heard by the crew and serves to unsettle them even further.

In Heart of Darkness, the collective cry of the natives makes the crew question if they will be attacked or not. Marlow makes the mistake of thinking that the “anguished” cries of the natives are a signal that they will not attack. The author uses impressionistic writing in this scene by showing Marlow’s delayed reactions to the attack on the boat. Finally the death of the helmsman himself in Heart of Darkness occurs quickly with him being impaled and falling at Marlow’s feet in a “pool of blood” (106).

This scene is made significant by the author in order to show the effect that the death of the helmsman has on Marlow. This point is further supported by the fact that Marlow is so unnerved by the helmsman’s death that he throws his shoes overboard. In the movie Apocalypse Now the Journey takes place in a river in Vietnam instead of the Congo River. Additionally instead of saving Kurtz like Marlow has to, Captain Willard is instead assigned the mission to “terminate” Kurtz . Who similarly to the book has used methods that are found unethical by his superiors.

As mentioned before the fog plays an important role in the scene where the helmsman dies. An important difference between the book and the movie is that the movie makes use of non-diagetic sound to create an ominous atmosphere that accompanies the appearance of the fog. This makes the fog appear more threatening as well as foreshadowing the dangers that the crew will face. The fact that Captain Willard denies the helmsman’s request to stop the boat is significant in this scene as it shows the determination that Willard has about accomplishing his mission.

Another important part of this scene is that Captain Willard’s decision to continue moving forward contributes to the death of the helmsman. While in Heart of Darkness, Marlow does stop the boat his misjudgment about the native’s cries contributes indirectly to the death of the helmsman. The attack on Willard’s crew is different from the attack done to Marlow’s crew because the natives are shooting only “play arrows” which are meant to scare the crew away. While on the other hand the attack done on Marlow’s crew in Heart of Darkness is meant to be lethal.

This is revealed by Kurtz’s Russian disciple who reveals to Marlow that Kurtz had sent the natives to kill the crew. During the helmsman’s death in Apocalypse now the helmsman locks Captain Willard in a tight grip and the captain is forced to hold him down. This brief scuffle with the helmsman is highlighted by the use of a high angle shot to show the face of the dying helmsman whose expression conveys that he blames his death on Captain Willard. A direct result of the helmsman’s death is that it makes the remaining crew aware of how dangerous their mission actually is.

This causes Willard to realize that he needs to disclose the details of his mission to his crew so that they can be fully informed about their current situation. Both Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness make use of vivid details in order to make the fog a symbol of the hidden perils that the characters face as they travel to their respective destinations. The fog is one of the most important details leading up to the death of the helmsman which is an event that changes both Marlow and Willard’s perspective of their missions. The realization that both the men come to is the risk of their mission is larger than what they initially though.

Cite This Work

To export a reference to this essay please select a referencing style below:

Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.
Reference Copied to Clipboard.