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Dead Bodies, Dead Bodies, and More Dead Bodies

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Upon the arrival at Kurtz’s camp, a sense of intensity is established due to the rhythmic beat of the music. The sound mirrors that of a heartbeat and foreshadows disaster and doom. Willard hadn’t even stepped onto the land, and I already anticipated some cruel, vicious scene. The lack of sound also heightens the terror by putting silence in place of familiar sounds we like hearing. Noises make us feel more aware of our surroundings; however, silence does just the opposite. It creates a sense of anxiety by forcing us to expect something to break the terror. The use of contrast with loud beats followed by nothing emphasizes the apparent silence, making it more dramatic.

The setting of the clip was immediately overwhelming with smoke rising from the trees in the background and a huge group of bodies gazing upwards towards Willard. Willard (Marlow) takes in his surroundings cautiously yet curiously, turning around to view the entirety of this primitive land. However, he has some sense of superiority, initially, given his placement above the crowd. A triangular composition forms with Willard at the top, making him appear less vulnerable to the savages. As the clip continues with Willard (Marlow) stepping onto the land, the hierarchy is removed, and he is placed on the same level as the rest. This reveals that over time, Willard is more susceptible to the savagery of the camp and those within it. An interesting feature between the book and this clip was the casual use of dead bodies to reveal that the idea of death is not a foreign nor it is it a rarity amongst the men. As the scene progresses, bodies are shown, hanging above the ground, out in the open. Rather than hiding the terror of murder, the camp displays it. “Heart of Darkness” also makes several references to death by calling the native men “black shadows of disease and starvation (pg. 17)” and clearly points out that they are “dying slowly (pg. 17).” This happens throughout the book, revealing that death is accepted and typical on a primitive land like this.

The Harlequin and the Photojournalist were two characters that mirrored one another to the smallest details. When the photojournalist was introduced to the scene, a childlike, frenetic energy appeared that matched the Harlequin in “Heart of Darkness.”  The Photojournalist talked in such a rapid manner and was an overwhelming figure, much like the Harlequin. Both also dressed similarly, with old, worn out clothing that emphasize their youthful spirit. The Harlequin and the Photojournalist were very effusive in their opinions of Kurtz. Despite, the cruelty of Kurtz’s actions, the two treated him like some divine figure. The Photojournalist makes several claims of the positive impact of Kurtz by revealing how Kurtz had “enlarged him mind”  and that in comparison to Kurtz, he was the “little man.” The Harlequin also explicitly reveals the supremacy of Kurtz in his statement that “you can’t judge Mr. Kurtz as you would an ordinary man. (pg. 56)” The influence that Kurtz has over the men is terrifying, yet to them, it’s an honor to even know someone of such power.

The settings in both the clip in the book were very similar in their portrayal of the land as an underdeveloped place with figurative and literal images of death and barbarity. Both settings enhanced the story with vivid detail to hint at the lives of the native men and the characters that adore Kurtz to a horrifying level.

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