19 December 2007

25. Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad

Joseph Conrad's classic that was turned into a great movie, although mediocre version of this story.

In the story Marlow and his pals are sitting around on the deck of the cruising yawl Nellie, waiting for the tide to shift and the sun to go down. To pass the time Marlow decides to tell a story of the time he was a freshwater sailor and had to taken a steamer up a river in the Congo. He had gotten a position with an ivory trading company through the influence of an aunt and as his first job he was tasked with taking a station manager up the river to retrieve Kurtz.

Now Kurtz is a trader who has gone nuts with his own unlimited power over the natives. His followers are not willing to let him go and attack the steamer as it draws closer to the clearing where he has set up camp. Marlow and the station manager dock the boat and meet up with Kurtz, who, it turns out is quite sick and near death. He resents the fact that he is being called back. After all, he's gotten so much ivory for the Company that it's piled up at camp.

The end of the movie is not exactly the same as the book, so I'll stop here.

There is some really great writing here.


dsgran said...

Oh, i *loved* HoD, but I loved Apocalypse Now as well- I'd have to disagree with any assessment of it as mediocre! The book and movie are entirely different - its one of those rare cases (the only one i can think of offhand) where both stand up as works of art in themselves and aren't overshadowed by the other in any way.

Its been a *long time* but I thought Lord Jim was excellent as well...

Jarrett said...

A great movie, but a mediocre translation - just that the movie was not a faithful representation of the letter of the text.

And in a funny footnote of the copy I had they called Brando and overacter and that Coppolla misread the novel.

dsgran said...

thats an interesting distinction - a great movie but mediocre translation- would it have been a better movie if it was a more faithful translation?

My guess is that it wouldn't have been. The original was too good to be copied more faithfully in my opinion.

How did the book suggest that Coppola misread it?