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Heart of Darkness (1993)

A trading company manager travels up an African river to find a missing outpost head and discovers the depth of evil in humanity's soul.

Director:

Nicolas Roeg

Writers:

Joseph Conrad (novel), Benedict Fitzgerald (teleplay)
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Nominated for 1 Golden Globe. Another 3 wins & 2 nominations. See more awards »

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Based on Joseph Conrad's novel, Marlow, captains a leaky steamboat up the River Congo in search of a mysterious figure named Kurtz who has carved out a brutal kingdom in which he has power of life and death over his native subjects.

Director: Gerald Conn
Stars: Matthew Rhys
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Tim Roth ... Marlow
John Malkovich ... Kurtz
Isaach De Bankolé ... Mfumu
James Fox ... Gosse
Morten Faldaas Morten Faldaas ... Harlequin
Patrick Ryecart ... De Griffe
Michael Fitzgerald Michael Fitzgerald ... Harou
Geoffrey Hutchings Geoffrey Hutchings ... Delcommune
Peter Vaughan ... Director
Phoebe Nicholls ... The Intended
Allan Corduner ... Verme
Jan Tríska ... White Agent
Alan Scarfe ... Captain Fenard
Michael Cronin Michael Cronin ... Louette
Iman ... Black Beauty
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Storyline

Marlow is an ambitious and adventurous sailor who is employed by an English trading company and sent to an African colony. There he travels up the river, visiting the trading stations who barters for ivory with the natives. On his journey he is told about a man named Kurtz whose station is the one furthest up the river, deep in the African jungle. Some talk of him in awe, others in admiration, but they all seem to fear him. As Marlow gets closer and closer to Kurtz he understands that the man has gone insane and is now doing the most horrible and blasphemous deeds. Based on Joseph Conrad's classic novel about greed and insanity. Written by Mattias Pettersson <seaman@sbbs.se>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

river | insanity | jungle | greed | ivory | See All (7) »

Genres:

Drama

Certificate:

See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | French

Release Date:

13 March 1994 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Heart of Darkness See more »

Filming Locations:

UK See more »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby SR

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Andrew Sinclair and Jeffrey Selenium, son of David, announced this in 1970 along with an adaptation of Dylan Thomas's " Under Milk. Wood ". Sinclair made " Under Milk Wood " in 1971, but its failure at the box office meant that this Conrad story never got off the ground. See more »

Goofs

The monkey in Kurtz' bungalow has a prehensile tail and is therefore not an African monkey, but a New World monkey. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Daria: Mart of Darkness (2000) See more »

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User Reviews

 
Extremely disappointing
4 July 2005 | by mfisher452See all my reviews

This is the first and as far as I can tell, the only completed production of "Heart of Darkness" ever released. Prior to starting on "Citizen Kane," Orson Welles shot some test footage for a version of "Heart of Darkness" that was to be filmed entirely in what would now be called "POV", where we would see everything from the point of view of the main character Charlie Marlow; he would be seen only fleetingly in mirrors, windows, water, etc. The film was never made. The "POV" technique was used, not too successfully, in 1947 in "The Lady in the Lake," with Robert Montgomery starring as Philip Marlowe. Presumably, the coincidence of the two "Marlow(e)" characters is just that. Of course, Francis Coppola's "Apocalypse Now" was based on "Heart of Darkness."

The short novel "Heart of Darkness" by the Polish-born British writer Joseph Conrad, first serialized in a British literary magazine in 1899, features one of his favorite alter egos, ship captain Charlie Marlow, who also narrates the short story "Youth" and indirectly tells the story of "Lord Jim." Marlow, temporarily out of work, decides to take a job captaining a river boat for a Belgian company involved in the brutal exploitation of the resources of King Leopold II's personal fiefdom, the cruelly misnamed Congo Free State. Marlow travels from London to Brussels, signs on with the company, and is told that his mission is to take a boat up the Congo River to a far inland station headed by one of the company's most productive agents in the colony, a German named Kurtz. Shipments of ivory, latex (for the production of rubber) and other products from Kurtz's station have ceased, and no word has come downriver from Kurtz for some time. There are rumors that he has "gone native." Marlow is to investigate, take any necessary action, and make a report on his return. He takes passage down the West African coast to the mouth of the Congo, is delayed for weeks while he is forced to repair his boat at the company station on the coast, and finally sets out upriver to find Kurtz's station. The river, the heat, the vegetation, the wildlife, the insects, the people, all take their toll on his endurance, his imagination, and his mental resources. He finds Kurtz ill, half-mad, and close to death. The final encounter and the death of Kurtz are almost an anticlimax, especially since Conrad is so obscure about what actually happens that we are left to puzzle it out for ourselves. This is a novel where you close the book vaguely dissatisfied with the ending but nevertheless treasuring the story for its amazing atmospherics.

This "Heart of Darkness" was filmed with Guyana in Central America standing in for West Africa. It is best where the novel is at its greatest disadvantage: Actually showing us First World urbanites what a boat trip up a tropical river would look like. But the rest of the film was forgettable. Tim Roth does his best as Marlow, but so much about the plot, characterizations, and character relationships has been altered beyond recognition that you wonder why they bothered. If the aim was to make Conrad's story for the screen, why didn't they leave it alone? It's unreasonable to expect that no compromises will be made when a book is made into a movie, but so many changes were made that to me had no cinematic justification that you wonder whether we are simply dealing with incompetent screenwriters and cinematographers. Most disappointing of all was John Malkovich as Kurtz. He was completely miscast and simply flubs the role. Everything about him is wrong: His looks, his acting style, his voice, his accent, everything. A vastly better choice would have been someone like Bruno Ganz (unlike Malkovich, an actual German, like the character).

This is a very disappointing production and I would recommend it only after you've read the book if you want to depend on more than your imagination to get a visual picture of a boat trip up the Congo River circa 1900.


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