RARA-AVIS: Conrad, Coppola, (cats)

From: William Hagen ( billha47@hotmail.com)
Date: 03 May 2002

Sorry to come in so late on the Apocalypse Now thread, but I'd like to toss in some thoughts and random bits of info.

Marlow turns out not to be very hard-boiled in saving Kurtz' lady from the truth. He is an old style gentleman who believes that the ladies are out of it, even while they are necessary to the spiritual ideals of civilization. So he tells her that Kurtz' last words were her name. Course if we assume that "your name" also means "the horror," well...

I won't get into the "which is better" argument between Heart and Apocalypse, except to say they are both masterpieces, each in its own way. Conrad's short novel is more about a moral awakening to darkness at the heart of Europe; Coppola is focusing on something similar in the American effort, though he's much more ambivalent, since the film both endorses pyrotechnic destruction and questions its purpose.

No one has mentioned that John Milius wrote the original script, which was strongly action oriented. It opened with an American soldier preparing to scalp a VC; it ended with Willard joining Kurtz to fire at the copters which have come to pick him up. Milius was thinking of Heart of Darkness, but he spliced it with the Odyssey. The French Plantation sequence was the Lotus Eaters; the second Playboy bunnies' sequence was the Sirens; Do Lung Bridge, I guess, the underworld visit.

Noir ironies?
>>Conrad was not mentioned as a writer in the credits of the movie.
>>If "The Hollow Men" was one of Col. Kurtz' books, he was reading about
>>Conrad's Kurtz; the epitaph of that poem is "Mistah Kurtz, he dead."
>>Anyone thinking of Eliot and cats is probably thinking of his many cat
>>poems, or maybe the musical based on the poems--Cats.

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