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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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  •  
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 02-14-15
    Julie W. Capell Milwaukee, WI USA 02-14-15 Member Since 2007

    The audio books I get tend to be either 1) scifi or 2) things for my husband and me to listen to on long road trips--humor or history

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    "Undeserving time-honored classic"

    I found this novella mostly incomprehensible. Oh, there is clearly a critique of imperialism, as many reviewers point out. But it seems to me, the critique is not that the colonizers (in this case, Belgians) are raping Africa of its natural resources (ivory) and enslaving its people. Rather, the book seems to be lamenting that good, white Europeans become tainted upon encountering Africa. The Africans are all depicted as sub-human, and the continent as a malevolent entity. I understand that attitudes were far different when Conrad wrote this in 1898 than they are today. Reading novels from other time periods allows one to better understand how thinking has changed . . . or not changed. However, I fail to understand the attention this novella has attracted . . . most of what happens just makes no sense at all. Reviews from readers who appear to be deeper thinkers than myself indicate that Kurtz is somehow the embodiment of Evil, but whatever it is he did is never explained. Characters go on and on about how eloquent he is, how smart he is, how he has a Grand Plan . . . but we are never shown any evidence that these things are the case. The viewpoint character, Marlow, alternates between admiration of the evil Kurtz, and abhorrence of . . . whatever horrible unnamed thing Kurtz has done. The most overrated 200 pages I have ever read. The only thing that made me finish it was the fact that I was listening to it as an audiobook performed by Kenneth Branagh, and I just didn’t want to turn off his fabulous voice.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    M.S. Valdez FORT COLLINS, CO, United States 02-07-15
    M.S. Valdez FORT COLLINS, CO, United States 02-07-15 Member Since 2012

    Avid reader all of my life! Favorite author: Stephen King. Favorite book: Hyperion.

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    "Proclaiming darkness does not make darkness."

    I realize that this book is considered a classic and that it is the inspiration behind the great war film: Apocalypse Now. However, I must have zoned out in listening to this book as all I ever heard was "heart of darkness" many times over. Thus, the title of my review: simply saying "heart of darkness" several times does not provide an understanding of what it means to have a heart of darkness. The movie, Apocalypse Now, did a far better job of imbuing the character of Kurtz with a "heart of darkness" than this book did of imbuing its character Kurtz with the same. Perhaps my expectations of this tale were skewed as I had first viewed the movie before experiencing this tale.

    The narrator, Kenneth Branagh, is excellent, a very distinct voice. I'm also glad that I got this book at steep discount as I cannot consider it worth the list price. It's also advantageous that it's a short tale as I'd rather spend my time on other books.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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    David 02-02-15
    David 02-02-15
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    "Excellent performance, excellent book!"

    Just the right tone of dark brooding for this classic piece. Highly recommended
    If you appreciate the movie Apocalypse Now.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jo 01-30-15
    Jo 01-30-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Fantastisk!"

    Boken i seg selv er veldig godt skrevet - både atmosfære, personer og omgivelsene kommer snikende ut av øreproppene og bretter seg ut i hodet. Kenneth Branagh hever opplevelsen ytterligere et par hakk!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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
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    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

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