Heart of Darkness vs. Apocalypse Now

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To win the top award at the Cannes Film Festival and be nominated for eight awards at the Academy Awards is an outstanding feat. Francis Ford Coppola's Apocalypse Now did not only that, but won Academy Awards for Best Cinematography and Best Sound. Coppola can not take all the credit for this enlightening movie. The film was loosely based off of Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness. Though Conrad was not credited in Apocalypse Now, his novella has a great impact on Coppola's cinematic masterpiece.

Captain Benjamin Willard of Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness's Marlow are very much alike. Both are sent on a mission to find Kurtz, a well respected man. In the novella, Kurtz is an exceptional ivory trader and not only a musician, but a painter as well. Coppola's Kurtz is also revered for his military achievements. The two men are at the top of their games, appreciated by many, but both follow a dark, twisting path.

Each Kurtz abandons his duties and becomes mentally unstable. The ivory trading Kurtz travels deep into the Congo and starts a new civilization with African natives. He begins a civilized man and works to help the savages become the same, but as he drifts deeper into the jungle, Africa's darkness changes him. Kurtz leads the natives but becomes as savaged as the others.

Colonel Walter E. Kurtz portrayed the same way in Apocalypse Now. He is a powerful man with an impressive military history. Kurtz is one of the top commanders in the Vietnam War. As he explores deeper into the jungles of Vietnam, he too becomes a savage.

Conrad's Kurtz is sent for because he is weak. Kurtz's demise is shown by is dementia and frailty. Colonel Kurtz looses his sanity as well, but gains weight instead. He looses touch with the outside world and goes AWOL from the United States Military. Both men are two deep into their world to make it back. They are at the point of no return.

Marlow and Willard spend vast amounts of time researching Kurtz. Marlow gains knowledge...
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