As Marlow approaches, what are Kurtz’s final words?
“The horror! The horror!”
Kurtz is a central fictional character in Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness.
A trader of ivory in Africa and commander of a trading post, he monopolises his position as a demigod among native Africans. Kurtz meets with the novella’s protagonist, Charles Marlow, who returns him to the coast via steamboat. Kurtz, whose reputation precedes him, impresses Marlow strongly, and during the return journey Marlow is witness to Kurtz’s final moments.
Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam War film Apocalypse Now (1979) centers on the protagonist’s mission to find and kill the renegade Colonel Kurtz (played by Marlon Brando), based on Conrad’s character, who has gone rogue far up a river, deep in the Southeast Asian jungle. The script acknowledges Heart of Darkness as a source of information, and the last words of Colonel Kurtz, “The horror! The horror!”, echo those of his namesake in the novel.