From: Mark Sullivan (
Date: 25 Jul 2003

miker wrote:

"My only complaint about HEART OF DARKNESS is the ending. It fizzled. I preferred the ending in Apocalypse Now. It plays closer to the fisher king myth."

Although Coppola clearly explored that myth, was that really Conrad's intention to do so? I think he was far more concerned with exposing the colonialism inherent in the White Man's Burden.

And for that reason Kurtz had to be exposed as a little man, unlike Brando's big man. As such I found Conrad's ending far better realized than Coppola's. I think it is quite evident that Coppola never figured out how to end the damn thing, so much so that he initially released it with two slightly different endings, one on the 35 mm print, one on the 70 mm print. Don't get me wrong, I love the movie. I think it's a flawed masterpiece (although I firmly believe that The Conversation is Coppola's real, flawless masterpiece) and always use it as my example of how a film that tries for too much but fails can be a far better film than one that perfectly realizes its more modest goals -- not that there's anything wrong with those, either.

Damn, it's been a long time since I've read HoD. Time to pull it out again.


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