Monday, February 14, 2011

Heart of Darkness + The Hollow Men = Apocalypse Now

Now that we have read both Heart of Darkness and The Hollow Men, I’d like to talk about Apocalypse Now. I highly recommend watching Apocalypse Now; it is a brilliant movie that truly displays the pensive, solitary side of Modernism. Apocalypse Now transfers the story of the Congo into a setting of the Vietnam War. In this story, Kurtz is an army colonel who has lost morality and taken over some of the indigenous areas with violent force. Marlow’s character has become Captain Willard, a man sent to assassinate Kurtz for the murders he has committed during the Vietnam War. The irony of his mission is obvious: assassinating a man for committing murder during a time of war. I feel this concept is similar to the futility of life in many modernist works. Also, Colonel Kurtz reads the Hollow Men before his death. As we’ve read in class, the Hollow Men begins with a reference to Kurtz. As I watched Apocalypse Now, I began to think of connections between the two works. Kurtz is similar to the Hollow Men. He hopes that other people remember them as they go into death.

There are many other similarities between the two works, which ones are most striking to you guys?


Julia said...

Although unfortunately I have not seen Apocalypse Now, I have also seen similarities between "The Hollow Men" and "Heart of Darkness." Both contain visions of hell. In "The Hollow Men," the dry cellar evokes an underground image, and the line "This is the dead land/This is cactus land" portrays the abode of the hollow men as dreadful and infernal. Conrad depicts Africa as dark, mysterious place where people like Kurtz lose their morals and quench their thirst for power by subjugating the indigenous people. “Heart of Darkness”, like “The Hollow Men”, causes the reader to question whether the environment or something within causes humans to unleash their malevolence, even if this malevolence involves inaction (as in the case of the hollow men).

Katherine said...

I have not seen Apocalypse Now either but I too see connections between Heart of Darkness and The Hollow Men. Both works are set in very dark mysterious places. These settings can be thought of something similar to a limbo- like in Dante's Hell. The setting makes it seem like they don't know if they are living or dead. They both are stuck in transition. Also another common theme I see is that both works discuss hope. In Heart of Darkness and The Hollow Men we are not sure if there is any hope at all. There is no light at the end of the tunnel, especially when Kurtz's last words are "the horror, the horror!" Both works are very dark and truly make the reader question themselves.

Samantha said...

In addition to the similarities between "Heart of Darkness" and "The Hollow Men" that Chrissy, Julia, and Katherine discussed, I noticed another overlapping reference. In "Heart of Darkness," Conrad explains that Kurtz aligns himself with the savages in their "primitive rituals" to obtain power and embrace his darkness. In "The Hollow Men," the speaker also takes part in a primitive ritual as he dresses in a "rat's coat" and "crowskin," equipped with crossed staves. Eliot's narrator uses ritual as a means to avoid the darkness of the twilight kingdom, while Kurtz turns to ritual in order to embrace his version of darkness.