Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now .
Joseph Conrad once wrote, "the individual consciousness was destined to be in total contradiction to its physical and moral environment" (Conrad-1897); the validity of his statement is reflected in the physiological and psychological changes that the characters in both his Heart of Darkness and Coppola's Apocalypse Now undergo as they travel up their respective rivers, the Congo and the Nung. Each journey up the tropical river is symbolic of a voyage of discovery into the dark heart of man, and an encounter with his capacity for evil. In such a voyage the characters regress to their basic instincts as they assimilate themselves into an alien world with its primeval dangers. When the characters are unable to withstand the various temptations along this passage, they helplessly sell their souls to corruption. In both the book and the movie, the various events along each individual journey help illustrate not only the physical deterioration of the environment and the characters" health but also the psychological degradation of the characters" conscience and consciousness. .
In both Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now, the various dramatic shifts in the environment from the onset of the river journeys delineate an increasing barbarity and savagery as the characters penetrate deeper and deeper into the heart of darkness. The directions of both journeys are formally established as a movement from "open and boundless to narrow and restricted spaces" (66), from the light of the sun into the darkness. This narrowing of space symbolically represents that these men are trapped within this valley, with no chance of escaping from the many horrors they face. .
In addition to these numerous shifts in the ambiance, the events that occur along the respective river journeys also illustrate their advancing into the "heart of an impenetrable darkness" (50).