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Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh | [Joseph Conrad]

Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh

A Signature Performance: Kenneth Branagh plays this like a campfire ghost story, told by a haunted, slightly insane Marlow.
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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

4.1 (2038 )
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Performance
Sort by:
  •  
    John Kenmore, WA, United States 06-19-12
    John Kenmore, WA, United States 06-19-12 Member Since 2003
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Intense absorption"
    What did you love best about Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh?

    Narrator brought a sense of presence to the story. Subtle but strong. Very much enjoyed the voice inflection and variation of character voices.


    Would you recommend Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh to your friends? Why or why not?

    Yes. Time well spent listening to this narration.


    What about Kenneth Branagh’s performance did you like?

    An adult speaking to adults. No kiddy voice or old person voice which is non-inteligible. Just a normal person speaking a story. Very enjoyable.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    Apocolypse Now.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    sam Anchorage, AK, United States 04-30-12
    sam Anchorage, AK, United States 04-30-12 Member Since 2006

    sjdickey

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    "Not sure what I expected but sure I got more"

    I purchased this book almost solely because of the reader Kenneth Branagh. It turned out a fine story, well written and a story line that totally sucked me into it. I could hear the mosquito's buzzing and hear the steam engines hiss.

    A well done story told in an interesting fashion by a narrator that makes you feel the story and slap at flies.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Panguitch, UT 04-21-12
    Amazon Customer Panguitch, UT 04-21-12 Member Since 2015

    Too long gone, two wrongs right, to a brighter day and Tupelo night . . .

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    "A Great Production"

    This is a good pairing of narrator to story. Kenneth Branagh does a great job with this Conrad classic. His pacing is comfortable while his characterizations come to life with appropriate drama without being over-done.

    This book is an easy (although sometimes horrifying) listen.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Janelle 03-26-12
    Janelle 03-26-12
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    8
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    "classic"
    What made the experience of listening to Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh the most enjoyable?

    Branagh is not just reading the words, but successfully tells Conrad's classic story. He doesn't over-inetrpret for the listener, but reads with intent and understanding.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Laila Leiden, Netherlands 03-16-12
    Laila Leiden, Netherlands 03-16-12
    ratings
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    6
    1
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    Performance
    Story
    "narrator disappointing"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    someone who can stand the narrator's dullness.


    Would you recommend Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh to your friends? Why or why not?

    no, the narrator does not become the charactar, just some fancy reading.


    Who would you have cast as narrator instead of Kenneth Branagh?

    simon vance


    You didn’t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

    not really


    Any additional comments?

    It's a shame you get the feeling you're listening to words being read instead of listening to a story.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    James Hoholulu, HI USA 03-16-12
    James Hoholulu, HI USA 03-16-12
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    "Incredibly well done."

    Incredible story unfolded in a sophisticated mannner. The speaker is superb. Requires undistracted listening. Reflects on various aspects of the human condition. The parallel them with the movie Apocalypse now is obvious. A great movie. A great book.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Clifford United States 03-12-12
    Clifford United States 03-12-12 Member Since 2015
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    "A dark tale told well"
    Where does Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    Heart of Darkness is not my favorite book, so I thought I'd listen to it...it is still not one of my favorites despite a flawless performance by KB.


    What did you like best about this story?

    Description of landscape as it matches the mind of its characters.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    The final scene.


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

    No


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Psorcon Annapolis, MD United States 03-12-12
    Psorcon Annapolis, MD United States 03-12-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Classic..."
    Would you consider the audio edition of Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh to be better than the print version?

    Well done performance of a great story with classic themes. I shortly afterwards viewed


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Amazon Customer Rochester, NY, United States 01-20-12
    Amazon Customer Rochester, NY, United States 01-20-12 Member Since 2014
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    "Mesmerizing interpretation of an old classic"

    I've read "Heart of Darkness" many times over the years, for the lushness of the writing and the profundity of the theme. However, hearing Branaugh read it expanded my comprehension and brought out all the nuances. I was on a real adventure with him. And I came away with a much better understanding of Marlowe, the corporate tool -- identifying with "the horror" and yet able to turn it into an entertaining tale shared with cronies on a quiet evening.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Angela Bangkok, Thailand 01-17-12
    Angela Bangkok, Thailand 01-17-12 Member Since 2011
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    "Branagh breathes life into a dark tale"

    Kenneth Branagh's performance in narrating "Heart of Darkness" is outstanding. This novella revolves around an experience in Africa related by one sailor (Marlow) to his fellow seaman while they are waiting for the tide to turn on the river Thames. Branagh takes on the role of the storyteller admirably and brings the tale, with all its fear, suspense and horror, to life. You feel as if you are one of the English seamen listening to Marlow's recount of his amazing adventure on the Congo River in the early years of European colonization.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
Sort by:
  • Amit
    Harrow, United Kingdom
    5/27/11
    Overall
    "Heart of Darkness - Read by Kenneth Branagh"

    I must confess I was initially put off by the "celebrity" author tag, but I am very glad I did get the audiobook. Branagh's reading verged on the lyrical in places - and he makes full use of his theatrical skills.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  • Anthony
    Sydney, Australia
    1/19/13
    Overall
    "Superb narration of a timeless classic"

    "The horror, the horror" ... timeless classic novel about colonial exploitation and oppression. Beautifully written, full of foreboding from the start. Difficult to switch off; probably best read/heard one uncluttered day from beginning to end as if you were sitting with Marlowe and listening to his tale via Conrad.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  • alesdair
    BALLYMENA, United Kingdom
    10/15/13
    Overall
    Performance
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    "Just great"
    Would you listen to Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh again? Why?

    Branagh is a cut above any other reader I have listened to before


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

    If you are a fan of Apocalypse now then you will particularly enjoy understanding where the source material was drawn from.
    No doubt a tale of its time but listened to in that context, massively enjoyable.


    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Ros
    Marlborough, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "Brilliant rendition!"

    Conrad's prose in Branagh's voice is a wonderful combination. The power of this novel is enhanced by the actor's sensitive handling of mood and tone. I have found myself listening more than once to some passages, where the author's emotive descriptions reward further attention. The narrative is fast paced and gripping and the creation of atmosphere superb.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Tom
    Rickmansworth, Herts, United Kingdom
    4/13/11
    Overall
    "An Old Master Brought to Life"

    This is the story of a young man who takes on the role of ferry boat captain on an African river when Africa was both unexplored and a mystery to the civilised world. As a book it is both compelling and shocking. It has really been brought to life by Kenneth Branagh whose wonderful narration keeps the pace going and brings the personalities of people to life. It satisfies on multiple levels, firstly as a good story, then in the sense that it made me realise how the world had changed since this was written and actually I was listening to a social commentary on the time when Great Britain had an Empire and knowledge of the world was limited. Finally it is a book which variously amused me, made me angry and has left a mark on me unlike many books that are so easily forgettable.
    I will listen again and indeed seek out others from this genre. Well done Audible, good call.

    13 of 15 people found this review helpful
  • Wras
    Kildonan
    3/6/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "A reminder to question the conceits of culture"

    This is a story laden with history and the shame of that history , also a story that has metamorphosed into Apocalypse Now and Hearts of Darkness: A Film-makers Apocalypse A documentary of the making of the film that resembles some of the struggles in the book. This makes it hard to judge or criticize without those influences prejudicing the commentary.
    It is still a poignant story of the worst of colonial Africa, and the attitudes of the period. but at the beginning the narrator comments about how in the more distant past of Britain they had been the savages of the Roman empire giving us a glimpse that power and abuse are timeless.
    If you have ever wonder why so many animals are nearly extinct this book and its language is a very good example, the companies main interest is ivory but the one word never mention in the book is elephant and all that this men do is collect ivory. The casual and institutionalised abuse of the locals is I am sure described in a very sanitized way, I suspect that the HORROR was much larger. Conrad also describes and inefficient colonial force and wonder why the people of this lands never just wiped them out, it is ponder many writers have made about other conflicts the best reasoning and perhaps the saddest was by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn in The Gulag Archipelago “ you surrender because you think “It’s a mistake! They will set things right!” but they is just you, the other "they" are not there to set things right but to implement the new regime and so it goes.
    Mr kurtz is not a truly well drawn character and the devotion felt by others seems strange to the modern reader; unlike Kurtz in Apocalypse Now who is charismatic and mad with modern Horror.
    A good book to look back and not forget the unlimited inhumanity of man in the pursuit of profit. A reminder to question the conceits of culture and ideology.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Mr
    Gloucester, United Kingdom
    12/23/12
    Overall
    "A treat for the senses"

    Ever since I first read this novella as part of my studies for A Level English Literature, Conrad's prose transported me to a radically different world where colonial Africa became an arena where mankind itself battled to remain uncorrupted and unaffected by the darker side of humanity. Branagh, as we would expect from a master actor of his calibre, captures this conflict for man's soul excellently as he assumes the character of Marlow and takes us through his journey to Africa, up the snake-like river and into the very heart of darkness.

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • Howler
    HYDE, United Kingdom
    4/7/12
    Overall
    "Five stars!"

    Superb narration by Kenneth Branagh - he injects such realism into the narrative. He must be my favourite male narrator of all time!

    2 of 2 people found this review helpful
  • LorLor
    1/27/15
    Overall
    Performance
    Story
    "Unforgettable!"

    Not my usual choice of book, but I was gripped from the beginning. Kenneth Brannagh really brought it to life

    1 of 1 people found this review helpful
  • John
    Lisbellaw, United Kingdom
    4/13/13
    Overall
    "There's Methody in the Madness"

    Terrific performance by Sir KB (an alumnus of Methodist college, Belfast: AKA Methody). Felt dramatic and emotional as apprpriate. The novel is a retelling of a tale and mostly in the storytelling style, hence the appropriateness of the presnetational style.



    The story itself is an interesting story. The film Apocolypse Now, closely follows the story with phrases and even names reused. It clearly is an homage to the book.



    Whilst far from uplifting the story is a good study of morality and mental balance. It length is perfect if you have a long journey and can complete it in one day. It dropped a star because of the style of language of the book. This is unfair as it was written for a contemporary audience, I guess, and language has moved on since then.

    3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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