This essay has been submitted by a student. This is not an example of the work written by professional essay writers.

Transition from Nomos to Physics for "Apocalypse Now"

downloadDownload printPrint

Pssst… we can write an original essay just for you.

Any subject. Any type of essay.

We’ll even meet a 3-hour deadline.

Get your price

121 writers online

Download PDF

Apocalypse Now is loosely based on Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness. In the novel, the main character, Marlow, is taking a trip up the Congo River in Africa to meet the ivory hunter, Mr. Kurtz. Coppola’s movie is pretty faithful to the source material except in the portrayal of the character Willard, played by Martin Sheen. In the novel at the end of his ordeal in Africa, Marlow becomes embittered with society as a whole, where once he was a conforming member of it. As the movie begins, Willard is already at that stage in his story arc, but has a few vestiges of civilization left. Willard sinks even further when he meets and assassinates Kurtz, “With extreme prejudice.” The film is a metaphor for a journey into the self and shows how the self, in the face of war, darkens beyond recognition. As they move upriver, Willard and the PBR crew become more agitated and separated from reality. Each experiences his own kind of mental breakdown.

The first scene being when ‘Chef’ leaves the boat enters the jungle in search of ingredients, has a run-in with a tiger, and is no longer the same—his temper becomes shorter, and he withdraws further into drugs. Upon returning to the boat, the rule of ‘Never leave the boat’ is sealed. ‘Lance’ turns to drugs too, but he also camouflages his face, signaling a changed self. ‘Clean’ represents the young men who fought in Vietnam who is just seventeen year old—those who were still kids and didn’t know anything about war. He is basically cannon fodder, like many of the troops drafted into the war. Clean whiles away the time on the boat dancing to music and annoying Willard. He becomes momentarily unhinged during the sampan scene. When Clean is killed, ‘Chief’ breaks down emotionally and becomes a changed man. ‘Willard’, already broken from his first tour in Vietnam, becomes obsessed with his target.

Masks are used at key points throughout the film to symbolize the anti-self—the new identity each character assumes in order to deal with the war, an act that requires a symbolic killing of the old self. Willard’s smashing of his reflection in the first scene suggests such an act of self-destruction. By the end of the movie, numerous characters have donned masks or painted their faces with camouflage, signs that they are no longer themselves. When Lance seems finally to reach his breaking point, he drops acid and hides his face in camouflage paint. In the photojournalist’s eyes, Kurtz can do no wrong. The photojournalist has been indoctrinated into Kurtz’s philosophy and acts as a connecting character to bring Willard and Kurtz together. He is the fool to Kurtz’s king and provides comic relief during the film’s dark final scenes. Kurtz’s face is often obscured by shadow or darkness, and when Kurtz throws Chef’s severed head into Willard’s bamboo cage, he does so wearing face paint. Finally, when Willard prepares to kill Kurtz, he covers his face in mud. These masks underscore the dramatic transformation of the human self during wartime.

infoRemember: This is just a sample from a fellow student.

Your time is important. Let us write you an essay from scratch

100% plagiarism-free

Sources and citations are provided

Find Free Essays

We provide you with original essay samples, perfect formatting and styling

Cite this Essay

To export a reference to this article please select a referencing style below:

Transition from Nomos to Physics for “Apocalypse Now”. (2019, February 27). GradesFixer. Retrieved August 6, 2021, from
“Transition from Nomos to Physics for “Apocalypse Now”.” GradesFixer, 27 Feb. 2019,
Transition from Nomos to Physics for “Apocalypse Now”. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 Aug. 2021].
Transition from Nomos to Physics for “Apocalypse Now” [Internet]. GradesFixer. 2019 Feb 27 [cited 2021 Aug 6]. Available from:
copy to clipboard

Sorry, copying is not allowed on our website. If you’d like this or any other sample, we’ll happily email it to you.

    By clicking “Send”, you agree to our Terms of service and Privacy statement. We will occasionally send you account related emails.


    Attention! This essay is not unique. You can get a 100% Plagiarism-FREE one in 30 sec

    Receive a 100% plagiarism-free essay on your email just for $4.99
    get unique paper
    *Public papers are open and may contain not unique content
    download public sample

    Sorry, we could not paraphrase this essay. Our professional writers can rewrite it and get you a unique paper.



    Your essay sample has been sent.

    Want us to write one just for you? We can custom edit this essay into an original, 100% plagiarism free essay.

    thanks-icon Order now

    Hi there!

    Are you interested in getting a customized paper?

    Check it out!
    Having trouble finding the perfect essay? We’ve got you covered. Hire a writer

    Haven't found the right essay?

    Get an expert to write you the one you need!


    Professional writers and researchers


    Sources and citation are provided


    3 hour delivery