Heart of Darkness and Coppola’s Essay
Heart of Darkness and Coppola’s
Kurtz was the best agent the Company had – and yet his journey has resulted in his oppressive and tyrannical demeanour; and he unleashed his maddened soul unto his surroundings. Kurtz obviously spent much time dwelling on thoughts and attempts to journey into his soul. The fact that he once travelled down the river with his ivory, and yet turned back after miles of travelling depicts his indecisive nature. Marlow realises this, and sees how torn apart the man really is. He realises that Kurtz’s solitude in the wilderness had allowed him to segregate and isolate everything he had known.
With nothing to control him and no voices of reason, his journey into his soul in the end, distorted it into a malicious, gluttonous thing, whereby its greed and passions were to become insatiable, “But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself… it had gone mad. ” (pg66) As we approach the end of their journeys, we see that Marlow has salvaged himself from insanity and darkness. Kurtz however, cannot retrieve himself, “The brown current ran swiftly out of the heart of darkness… as Kurtz’s life was running swiftly too, ebbing, ebbing out of his heart into the sea of inexorable time.
” (pg68) The use of metaphors and analogous language explicates that the further Marlow and the others depart in the physical journey, the less the likelihood of Marlow obtaining a deleterious soul. However, inversely, the further Kurtz proceeds away from his physical journey, the ‘heart of darkness’ he entitled to himself – the sooner he faces his cessation. He had desecrated his soul, gratified his monstrous passions to the extent where he would now allow his journey to have a path back. This concept is elucidated in the analogy that he had “kicked himself from the earth…
he had kicked the very earth to pieces.. ” (pg66). And so the end of Kurtz’s journey occurs, his final words being “The horror! The horror! ” (pg69). He seemingly passed judgement on his actions and life, his ‘journey’ and he deemed it to be horrid. By the end of his journey, Marlow has an altered perception of life. We see that through this spiritual journey he has gained the ability to understand reasons for barbarous actions; a suggestion that it is only through experience and such a journey, that one could ever understand how and why the mind can turn into such a truculent, repugnant thing.
Coppola’s Apocalypse Now presents a mission through the Nung River to reach deeper into a jungle. Captain Willard accepts a mission to exterminate Kurtz, a man who implements unsound methods and is accountable for murder. Here Coppola employs a sound technique, the use of music in a minor key to pose an apprehensive sentiment to the mission. Willard formulates an analogy “never get out of the boat… unless you were going all the way. Kurtz got off the boat… ” Willard interpolates to Kurtz’s mental journey, and how Kurtz ‘got off the boat’, and theoretically straight into the arms of the jungle.
Kurtz was a man who had extreme potential and ability to reach high ranks within the army. However, he abandoned this and adventured into the unknown and attained new beliefs and ethics, “the more I read and began to understand, the more I admired him… he could’ve gone for general… but he went for himself instead. ” Willard’s understanding of this is one of the primary indications of his commencement towards his own spiritual journey. Kurtz opens opportunities to Willard – by venturing into Kurtz’s foundations he ventures into his own.
During this dialogue we see close up camera angles of Willard, sweaty with a torch and black background, giving him a strong look of obsessiveness. Willard then reads a letter from Kurtz, within the letter is a significant passage, “there are many moments for compassion… there are many moments for ruthless action. What is called ruthless… may be… seeing clearly what there is to be done and doing it… directly. ” Kurtz is attempting to postulate reason and justify his ruthless conduct. Following this the boat halts to inspect a native’s boat.
During the examination, the soldiers open fire despite the native’s innocence. They discover a girl is still living, and resolve to accompany her to a hospital. Willard however, determines he must continue on his expedition. He deliberately shoots the girl and thus adopts an aspect of Kurtz, “seeing clearly what there is to be done and doing it. ” A median camera shot encompasses the face, neck and torso of the girl, lifeless and inert, revealing and provoking an increased sense of callousness upon Willard’s part.
Eventually Willard encounters Kurtz, and he imparts a recount explicating the barbarity of the Vietcong guerrilla forces, “And then I realized they were stronger than me because they could stand it… men who are… able to… kill – without feeling, without passion, without judgement… ” Upon saying this, his face is shadowed; there is no sound but his echoing words reinforcing the dialogue’s intensity. Although Kurtz may have desired strength and mercilessness, the irony and sarcasm of his stories pose another reason as to why he divaricated from the army.
The American army has the ability to kill and wage war, and yet American soldiers still hold to moral values that completely contradict their actions, “we train young men to drop fire on people. But their commanders won’t allow them to write fuck on their airplanes because it’s obscene… ” As Kurtz despises such “lies”, he comes to believe the ability to endure abominable vulgarity shows true genuine strength, and lacks contradictory behaviour. We thus receive reasoning for Kurtz’s journey. Willard then concludes to slay Kurtz, however it is not for the benefit of the army, “I wasn’t even in their army anymore…
I felt like he was up there waiting for me to take his pain away… ” As he sees Kurtz, the music begins to play rapidly to produce anticipation. It is a ritualistic slaughter, with constant cuts to a scene of vicious sacrificial killing of a water buffalo by the natives, insinuating Kurtz as a false deity, having an erroneous journey. He is deservingly being slaughtered like an animal, sacrificed back to his jungle. Kurtz’s last words are “The Horror, The horror. ” Here we perceive an acceptance of iniquity in a human’s soul, the ‘horror’ that can arise when a man delves into his soul, and depraves it through attempts to monopolise it.
As Willard exits from slaughtering Kurtz, he has been established as the native’s ‘new deity’. Undershot camera angles endorse Willard’s superior status, his face is smeared in mud and his body is profaned with blood. The music is disturbing (producing an anticipative mood) as he progressively walks through the sea of people. There is the prospect of Willard continuing in Kurtz’s footsteps. However, he advances to his boat. It was through this journey that he was able to comprehend Kurtz’s actions. But Willard himself did not falter over the edge into insanity.
The journeys in this case show us that placed into the right scenarios, there does sleep a suppressed greed and insanity in every soul that has the chance to escape if delved into. However, as we can see from Marlow and Willard’s examples, this can be understood and the unleashing of such evil can be avoided. Coppola and Conrad both used their techniques to show this concept and those concepts relating to it. Show preview only The above preview is unformatted text This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Joseph Conrad section.
University/College: University of Arkansas System
Type of paper: Thesis/Dissertation Chapter
Date: 12 November 2017
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