Apocalypse Now Writing Assignment
After you have watched Apocalypse Now, come to class with two pages, typed, double-spaced on one of the following topics. Try to be as specific as you can. You will share your writing in a small
group for discussion before an all class discussion during the last part of the class period.
(1) In both cases, the protagonist (Marlow in Conrad’s novella, Captain Willard in Coppola’s film) are on a mission up a river in a “wild” place, looking for a man named Kurtz. But their missions
with respect to this man are quite different. How so? The personal histories leading up to these assignments are also different. How so? How do these differences (along with others you find
relevant to discuss) contribute to important differences in our conception of the kind of individual each is — their character (in the psychological & ethical sense of the term), their
personalities? How does each man and/or situation reflect Cohen’s Monster Theory Thesis 1—the monster is representative of the culture of the time?
(2) Each protagonist is in for a big surprise when he finally arrives where Kurtz is — a surprise that alters the nature of the fascination Kurtz holds for him. What is similar, and what different,
in the moral corruption that the respective Kurtzes have fallen into? Be sure to spell out in as much detail as you can the differences in the nature of this corruption, and in the factors we are
led to attribute this —think Cohen’s Thesis 5—the Monster polices the border of the possible. Have these Kurtzes crossed that line and joined or become the monster? Neither Kurtz wants to return
to civilization with the protagonist. But the outcome is different in each case. How so? How do the factors to which we attribute these outcomes affect our conception of the overall character of
these two individuals (Kurtz in the novella and Kurtz in Coppola’s film)?
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