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Varying Interpretations Of Heart Of Darkness And Apocalypse Now

2657 words - 11 pages

Varying Interpretations of Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now


    The true meaning of varying interpretations comes alive when one compares the two film versions of Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now have the same basic outline and underlying themes, however the plots, characters, settings, time, purposes, and points of view differ enough to create two extremely different effects and two entirely opposite movies. Both movies depict an insanity: of man in Heart of Darkness and of war in Apocalypse Now. It is ironic that Heart of Darkness, the movie replica of the novel, is a boring, slow-paced flop of a production, while Apocalypse Now, a loosely based film, had great success and audience appeal. Heart of Darkness is a 1994 Turner Network Television (TNT) Pictures made for TV movie, directed by Nicolas Roeg. It is based so exactly on the Joseph Conrad novel that the differences between the two are almost indiscernible. As in the novel, the Nellie floats on the Thames River while Marlow, played by Tim Roth, tells of his journey into Africa. He is employed by an English trading company and assigned to sail up the Congo to the inner ivory station. He takes along Mfumu, a black native cannibal, as a companion. They encounter strange situations with company managers, the accountant, natives, cannibals, a sunken ship, and natural disasters. All along the way, Marlow hears of Kurtz, the corrupted chief of the Inner Station, played by John Malkovich, and becomes obsessed with finding him. As he nears the station, natives attack the boat and kill Mfumu. Marlow meets a Harlequin who tells him personal stories about Kurtz and his methods of becoming both admired and feared by the native tribe. When he finally meets Kurtz, he appears very savage, mad, insane, and ill. He talks to Marlow and gives him deep insight into discovering himself, being happy, and light versus darkness. Marlow watches Kurtz die and whisper his last words, "The horror! The horror!" Marlow returns home to visit Kurtz's fiancé and, instead of telling her that Kurtz went crazy in the jungle, he upholds her belief that Kurtz was a great man. The story flashes back to present time where the Nellie is sailing away into the "heart of darkness" (Heart of Darkness: Theme/Symbol/Allusion/Foreshadow).

 

The similarities between the novel and movie versions of Heart of Darkness are numerous, right down to exact quotations, costumes, and scenes. In the opening scene, Marlow describes his expedition into the Congo as "the farthest point of navigation" and "the culminating point of my experience" exactly as in the book (Conrad 70). The movie accurately depicts the women knitting black wool and the colored map with the snake-like river as Conrad vividly describes them (pp. 73-74). The mood of the scene when Marlow and his crew finally approach Kurtz's Inner Station is also well-depicted with the foggy air, the noises in the forest (p. 110), the...

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