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Moreover, while Marlow and Willard each travel up a primeval river to fulfill their respective assignments, each speculates about the character of the man he is seeking, with the help of the information each has pieced together about him.In addition, the last stop for both Marlow and Willard is their soul-altering confrontation with Kurtz.In the spring of 1975 Coppola told comparing and contrasting apocalypse now and heart of darkness interviewer that his next film would deal with the Vietnam War.
As Coppola describes this ending, Kurtz, a battlemad commander, wearing two bands of machine gun bullets across his chest, takes Willard by the hand and leads him into battle against the North Vietnamese.
Yet although the settings and backgrounds of novella and film are quite different, the manner in which the story is narrated in each instance is very well similar.
While it is true that the central character remains on the screen more than anyone else in the movie, and his comments are often there on the sound track, the viewer still does not see others completely from his point of view, as the reader does in the novel.
Hence, Apocalypse Now is robbed of some of the emotional intensity that one feels when one reads Heart of Darkness.
The screenplay may try to retain the subjective dimension of these memories by having the voice of the character who is recalling the event in question surface on the sound track occasionally to give his subjective reflections on the flashback as it unfolds on the screen, as is the case in the present film.
But the viewer still does not have the sense that Willard is seeing the flashback from the point of view of the character who is retelling the event.One cannot tell a story from the single point of view of one character in a film as one can in a novel.Also, one cannot look through the eyes of one character in a film.This is simply because in the novel, the narrator often communicates his subjective reaction to the episodes from the past he is narrating to the reader.In identifying so strongly with Kurtz, Coppola alters the issue of power and upsets the delicate balance between the subject of Vietnam and the Conrad story.For one, a film, as a product of the commercial cinema, must appeal to a mass audience, whereas a novel appeals only to a segment of the population.In addition, filmgoers watch a movie for about two hours on the average, whereas it is unlikely to finish reading a novel in two hours.Willard is mandated to journey up the Mekong River in a navy patrol boat to find Col.Kurtz, who has recruited his own renegade army to fight the Vietcong.Marlow is dispatched to steam up the Congo in order to find Mr.Kurtz, an ivory trader who disappeared into the interior and never returned.