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Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh Audiobook

Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh

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Audible Editor Reviews

"The horror! The horror!" In this brooding and justly celebrated novella of 1902, seaman Charles Marlow is cruising quietly down the Thames at dusk with some friends. As night begins to fall, he tells them of his harrowing journey down an African river in search of the unscrupulous and near-legendary ivory trader named Kurtz, a quest deep into inky spiritual and symbolic darkness. Acclaimed Irish actor/director Kenneth Branagh impersonates Marlow in this recording. Admirably, while fully playing the drama, he never goes overboard. He plays the tale for the great yarn that it is. But had he taken more cognizance of its trajectory and subtleties, he would have made the listening experience far richer than he has.

Publisher's Summary

Prose that demands to be read aloud requires a special kind of narrator. For the Audible Signature Classics edition of Joseph Conrad’s atmospheric masterpiece, Heart of Darkness, we called upon four-time Academy Award nominee Kenneth Branagh.

Branagh’s performance is riveting because he reads as though he’s telling a ghost story by a campfire, capturing the story’s sense of claustrophobia, while hinting at the storyteller Marlow’s own creeping madness. Heart of Darkness follows Captain Marlow into the colonial Congo where he searches for a mysterious ivory trader, Kurtz, and discovers an evil that will haunt him forever.

With this landmark work, Conrad is credited with bringing the novel into the twentieth century; we think Branagh brings it into the twenty-first.

Stay tuned for more one-of-a-kind performances from actors David Hyde Pierce, Leelee Sobieski, Tim Curry, and more, only from Audible Signature Classics.

Listen to more Audible Signature Classics.

Public Domain (P)2010 Audible, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Acclaimed Irish actor/director Kenneth Branagh impersonates Marlow in this recording. Admirably, while fully playing the drama, he never goes overboard. He plays the tale for the great yarn that it is." (AudioFile)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    David A. Heckman 01-29-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Entertaining"

    Loved the story and how Kenneth Brannagh brought life to the story. A must read and you will be thoroughly pleased.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Lyn Neilans Loudon, TN United States 01-22-15
    Lyn Neilans Loudon, TN United States 01-22-15 Member Since 2011

    Marilyn Smith Neilans

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    "riveting"

    The narrator is perfect for the work. good reason why this is a classic. I could hardly wait for each new chapter.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Stocks 01-21-15 Member Since 2016
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    "Great Narration. Boring Story."

    The narrator was good but the story was terribly boring. It was only 4 hours but felt like an eternity.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    R. Hays Atlanta, GA USA 01-16-15
    R. Hays Atlanta, GA USA 01-16-15

    bibliomaniac

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    "Conrad and Branagh are both without parallel."

    I've always loved Joseph Conrad's stories. For a boy, a young man, a man of any age, they are a necessary element on the bookcase.

    But who would have thought you could get more than mediocre entertainment from having such a work of fiction "read" to you? It's not just any reader who can send chills with a whisper and laughter with a roar! But Branagh is one of the consummate entertainers of our time. If he is performing, you know it will come close to perfection!

    And this Audible book, combining two matters of their arts, comes as close to perfection as any book I've heard from Audible.com yet!

    Bravo, Mr. Branagh! And thank you!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    GanjaPlanta 01-16-15
    GanjaPlanta 01-16-15
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    "'heart of english blandness'"
    If you could sum up Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh in three words, what would they be?

    deep interesting adventure


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh?

    when the main character discovers a beautiful amazonian woman in the rainforest


    Which character – as performed by Kenneth Branagh – was your favorite?

    kurtz


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    when the news of kurtz's death reaches marlow, he does not stop eating dinner.


    Any additional comments?

    very cool book, steeped in adventure, but written in a monotone way that seems dry and boring at times

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    4onthefloor 10-30-14
    4onthefloor 10-30-14
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    "Branagh shines, Conrad sputters"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    No. The story is what it is.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Probably something a bit more uplifting, just to even things out.


    What about Kenneth Branagh’s performance did you like?

    Usually great pacing and appropriate levels of intensity. Branagh saved this book for me.


    Did Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh inspire you to do anything?

    Probably to seek out more of his readings (assuming the subject matter is something I'd like more than this).


    Any additional comments?

    Any novelty of this piece being presented as a frame narrative is quickly eclipsed by the sometimes pleasing, though more often onerous, descriptions of river life. I appreciate being exposed to a snapshot of colonialism and racism, but the plot wasn't redeeming enough to make me truly enjoy this one. Branagh's reading was the bright spot.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Andrew FAIR OAKS, CA, United States 10-17-14
    Andrew FAIR OAKS, CA, United States 10-17-14 Member Since 2009

    I'm a web developer based out of Sacramento, I listen to books while I work, and love audible.

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    "Short, but Interesting"
    Any additional comments?

    This was an interesting book, that , but a bit short. It features the utter cruelness of the white colonials in Africa, where they felt they where better than the "savages", because they were the truly savage.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    thomas charlotte, NC, United States 09-22-14
    thomas charlotte, NC, United States 09-22-14 Member Since 2012

    I focus mainly on History, Endurance Sports and Science/Speculative Fiction books.

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    "I am Glad I Listened to It.."
    Would you listen to Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh again? Why?

    One of the great things about Audible is that we can get around to reading books we either ignored as younger people or glossed over in school This is a great example. I am glad I read it, and it was well done. I am not sure I would listen to it again, but I rarely do that with Audible titles, there are just so many new ones out there I want to get to...


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Well Kurtz is obviously the centerpiece of the story. An enigmatic figure who haunts everyone who meets him.


    What about Kenneth Branagh’s performance did you like?

    Great job, maybe the best I have heard on Audible (Tony Roberts was also great in Cat's Cradle). His reading showed a familiarity with the text that can only come with reading a classic book. This was evident in his performance.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    I rarely do that, but this is a very short book, and many readers might do that on a rainy day or on vacation.


    Any additional comments?

    British literature from this time period is very unique. Flowery language where symbolism and description trump the narrative and story line. The enigmatic Kurtz was fascinating, and has become archetypical for many other subsequent characters in literature and popular culture. Overall I highly recommend.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Brian Abel Ragen St. Louis, MO USA 09-04-14
    Brian Abel Ragen St. Louis, MO USA 09-04-14 Member Since 2009
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    "The Ideal Teller for This Tale"
    Where does Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    This is an excellent audiobook. Branagh realizes that the most important character in Heart of Darkness is not Mr. Kurtz, but Marlow, the narrator, He reads simply, but also shows that Marlow may understand more about the bizarre scenes he faces than he would ever say directly.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Marlow. Branagh makes you believe that men with better things to do would sit on a chilly deck for hours just to hear the rest of his story. And this is the first thing you have to believe if you are going to appreciate the story.


    What about Kenneth Branagh’s performance did you like?

    I liked it that he neither readi it like a Movie Star performing a novel nor left his acting skills at the door. He inhabited his role—which was that of the narrator who brings the other characters to life.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    I knew the text very well before I listened to this version. I don't recall that it make me laugh or cry, though it may have, but it did make the book completely fresh for me once again.


    Any additional comments?

    Narration is a special skill, and not all actors have it. Branagh does. I hope he can be persuaded to read more books. And if he an Alex Kingston could create an audio version of their Macbeth, that might be glorious.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Rick Kintigh Chicago, IL USA 08-20-14
    Rick Kintigh Chicago, IL USA 08-20-14 Member Since 2013
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    "Great prose, lacking in the Kurtz department."
    Any additional comments?

    Conrad's prose is gorgeous. It has a lyrical quality and is hugely satisfying, but other aspects range from uneven to inadequate. There is such an imbalance between Conrad's progressive views against colonialism and treatment of indigenous people to his blatant dismissal of women. Similarly the attention to describing the exact circumstances and intentions of the narrator, but poorly rendering Mr Kurtz. This last is the most troubling because the character (Kurtz) is absolutely revered by all the of others characters, literally idolized by several. The physically and mentally diminished Kurtz we interact with is a shadow of legend and the deeds are too thinly detailed to engender similar awe in the reader.

    Side note: The value of ivory has always escaped me and shades the reading with a gaudy, gory connotation. I wonder how my experience would have been altered if the precious resource was sapphires or similar precious stones which while still not personally valued would carry less baggage.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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