Attack From Tree Line: Analysis

777 words - 4 pages

Brutality and piqued fear are synonymous with the world of both Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness and Francis Ford Coppola’s visual depiction of the novel, Apocalypse Now. Each capture audiences in different ways: Conrad by his adept use of flowering language and Coppola by bringing Conrad’s world to life on the big screen. Coppola sets the story that originally takes place in the Congo in Vietnam during the strenuous war with the United States. Despite these aesthetic variances, Coppola pulls inspiration from Conrad’s existing text in more scenes than not. Specifically, the ruthlessness of the attack from the “brutes” as Marlow and Willard’s steamboat further approaches Kurtz. As the crews ...view middle of the document...

Not being soldiers, these men do not expect the sudden onslaught from the cover of trees, especially with the preceding conditions. Marlow and his crew are unprepared as the arrows are sent flying; they scramble to take cover and fight back as the savages fight. Conrad’s flowery language makes the aggression harder to interpret until Marlow announces, “Arrows, by Jove! We were being shot at!” This attack is no scare tactic or strategic advance. It is purely driven by the native hatred of those conquering their lands, which leads to the death of the Helmsman and leaves Marlow without shoes and at the helm.
Coppola attacks this scene from a completely different angle. It highlights the savagery of those on the boat rather than the Vietnamese hiding in the bushes. The boatmen do not listen as Willard tries to inform them to hold their fire because the arrows are “just a bunch of sticks.” Instead, they fire into the woods with machine guns (rather than the single-shot Martini-Henrys used in Heart of Darkness) and the natives are left no choice but to retaliate. Thusly, the arrow sent flying at Chief, who refuses to take his post at the helm, is less of a shock to audiences as the death of the Helmsman in Heart of Darkness.

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