Apocalypse Now is a film that is steeped in references to other works of literary significance – it is directly inspired by Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, borrowing much of its subject matter and character names from it. However, I couldn’t help but be reminded of the work of Fyodor Dostoyevsky while watching, which is ironic because Conrad apparently quite disliked Dostoyevsky himself as well as his work (Wood, 2005). The Idiot’s exploration of what happens to a man who is good and moral to a literal fault contains a sense of forbearing and a dark atmosphere throughout, precipitated by Dostoyevsky’s style of writing that is eerily similar to the directorial direction of Apocalypse Now. At one point in The Idiot, Hippolyte states that “It is better to be unhappy and know the worst, than to be happy in a fool’s paradise!”. This almost perfectly describes that character of Walter Kurtz as, unhappy and knowing the worst, he has built himself his own fool’s paradise that ultimate comes crashing down around him. It is fascinating how works of such different time, character and platform can contain such similar sentiments. So much literature is interwoven, even tangentially, that meaningful comparisons can be found in the most unexpected of places.
Wood, James. “Warning Notes from Underground.” The Guardian. N.p., 26 Feb. 2005. Web. 16 Jan. 2016. .