Apocalypse Now and Heart of Darkness

Essay by benfishCollege, UndergraduateA-, November 2014

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Fishburne 1

Ben Fishburne


ENG 366

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Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now

Text is often described as being impervious to history. A story can survive far beyond the years of its author and can continue to be read and interpreted long after the societal and political context surrounding the text have died. However, the same cannot be said for film. A film may remain in access for ages, but unlike text, it cannot always be appreciated to the fullest extent due to the constant evolution of film and the technology surrounding it. This progression is much less evident in written word, which is why a viewer of text never becomes fully accustomed to any completely new styles of this medium of storytelling. A text survives much longer than a film because, although the society around it changes, the means in which written word are communicated do not.

Technological, cinematic, and even societal progressions create a never-ending situation throughout all of filmmaking that dictates what the audience comes to expect and what the filmmaker is able to utilize and draw from in order to produce the film that will have the greatest success in creating various appeals to the viewers.

Francis Ford Coppola's movie, Apocalypse Now, further exemplifies this idea, as it is loosely based off Joseph Conrad's novella Heart of Darkness. Conrad's story continues to achieve popularity and tell Marlow's tale to countless readers across generations. Coppola, in the making of this film, was aware of this feature, yet he accepted the fact that his audience would be less likely to be able to relate fully to Conrad's Marlow and his tale of his journey into the Congo. It is not that viewers would have shunned a completely "faithful" adaptation of the novella, it...