Between Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, I find Heart of Darkness infinitely more disturbing than Apocalypse Now. The reason is simple. Apocalypse Now is a movie about war, or perhaps in the words of Coppola himself: “It is war.” War is horrible, that is a universal fact. When we think of war, we expect to find gruesome murders, horrific deeds, and utter madness. There is no surprise when we see that in the movie, after all, what do you expect in war?
Heart of Darkness on the other hand, shows the horror of human nature without war. Sure, the worst of mankind is brought out by war, however, even in times of peace, and prosperity, humans are capable of terrible things. Heart of Darkness shows us that we cannot just attribute our horrible deeds to war, it is ultimately humans that orchestrates all the terrors of war. Humans are terrible, not war. This revelation is exactly what I admire in Heart of Darkness, it forces us to gaze inside our heart and see the immense darkness that shrouds it. It shows us the consequences of Kurtz’s exposure to this darkness–insanity. Insanity for Kurtz is an escape, he cannot face the horror of the realization of his own nature, so he chose to run away from it into the realm of insanity. Insanity relieves us of all morals, all judgements, and all ego, so we can act out the most cruel and horrible part of our nature without guilt. Heart of Darkness is a great novel which explores the worst of mankind, and the effect it can have on us when we witness it. It puts into question the so called progress made by Europeans. To Conrad, the civilization of Europe is only a flicker in the darkness, and by no means the light which his contemporaries saw Europe as. No matter how civilized Europe or the entire mankind gets, the inner longing for the primeval ages will never fade, and the brutality and cruelty of human nature will persist.