The horror of death: A Foucauldian reading of power relations in Heart of Darkness and Apocalypse Now
(2022) Philologica Canariensia, 28, pp. 55-70.
Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness (1899) addresses the brutality underlying Europe’s colonisation of Africa. Its film adaptation, Apocalypse Now (1979), shows the US Army’s radical practices in the Vietnam War. A comparative study of power relations on both works will help understand the workings of power in extreme sociopolitical circumstances devoid of a democratic environment. This article analyses both cultural products under the theoretical framework of Michel Foucault’s writings on power. Three conceptual nuclei where power relations emanate are scrutinised independently: imperialism and the resulting local resistance; internal hierarchies in colonial organisations; and the role of gender. The analysis shows that absolute power is intolerable, death its ultimate limit, and confession its main liberating mechanism. © 2022 Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria. All rights reserved.
Apocalypse Now; film adaptation; Foucault; Heart of Darkness; power