RE: RARA-AVIS: "Apocalypse Now, Redux"

From: Graham Powell (
Date: 30 Apr 2002

>From: Robison Michael R CNIN <>
>(is his name willard in the book, too?)...

Hah. His name in the book is Marlowe. He's also the narrator of LORD JIM, although I never made it all the way through that one.

My take on HEART OF DARKNESS is how close "civilization" is to barbarism. It didn't take much for Kurtz, a civilized European, to become a brutal warlord. Even though he's sick, and it's killing him, he still struggles to return to the jungle. And it's not just Kurtz; all the men on the boat with Marlowe shoot the natives for sport (until Marlowe blows the whistle, frightening them away).


One thing I haven't seen discussed is the ending to the book. Kurtz mumbles
"the horror, the horror" and expires, but then Marlowe returns to England and visit's Kurtz's fiance. She asks what his final words were, and Marlowe tells her that Kurtz spoke her name. Why did he do this? Kurtz had obviously forgotten all about anything that used to matter to him at home, but why did Marlowe spare her feelings? The best I can come up with is that it was the civilized thing to do.

The movie is as much about Vietnam as it is about the book. My favorite scene is where Willard visits the soldiers on the bridge and asks, "Where's your commanding officer?" and a soldier replies, "Ain't you?"


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