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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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  •  
    Alibyebye Essmob Calgary, Alberta 03-19-15
    Alibyebye Essmob Calgary, Alberta 03-19-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Fantastic performance of a classic"

    Branagh delivers the necessary dreamlike, nightmare qualities demanded by Conrad's dark classic. Highly recommended.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Zenjen 03-13-15
    Zenjen 03-13-15 Member Since 2014
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A favorite book, very nicely narrated."

    I wasn't sure Kenneth Branagh was going to do this justice - he can be a little over emphatic and lofty sometimes. I was wrong, he lowered his tempo and adopted a more common voice that fit the characters beautifully.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    perspective 03-08-15
    perspective 03-08-15 Member Since 2017
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Beautiful Darkness"
    Would you listen to Heart of Darkness: A Signature Performance by Kenneth Branagh again? Why?

    Yes, this text is definitely worth revisiting. It is a journey of man and exploration of his nature, along with the theme of obsession, it is a perfect novel. It is written with elevated language and is beautifully poetic yest aggressive in style.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Kurt is the character obsessed about and as the journey progresses the reader is as eager as the narrator to meet him.


    What does Kenneth Branagh bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Kenneth Branagh brings his acting skills to the fore with Kurt, he keeps within keeping of Marlin Brando's interpretation of Kurt in 'Apocalypse Now', the film adaptation from the 'Heart of Darkness.'


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

    A journey of dark dreams.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is worth studying and comparing at A level and IB level.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Elina Yelishevich 02-24-15
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    "classic that is absolutely modern"

    great book. very impressive performance. I read and listen simultaneously. Very rich experience.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    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
  •  
    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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  • 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.

    5 of 5 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!

    5 of 5 people found this review helpful
  • John Paul Jones
    5/20/16
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    "Too ambiguous to enjoy as a story"

    I found the story utterly lacking in detail and therefore ambiguous throughout.

    For example we're told that Kurtz is an astonishing man of near unsurpassed brilliance, but we're given no detail whatsoever as to why. Consequently I found myself unable to share the deep respect and interest that every other character in the book seems to have for this man, at all.

    Granted there may be a number of individual sentences or passages that have great value to the English language for their construction, but in my opinion this is no good if they don't also serve to provide the detail necessary to convey a compelling story, which they don't.

    The narrator whispered too much and was over dramatic in places for my taste.

    About me, for reference: I love classic fiction for two reasons: first is the originality of the stories which are usually compelling, and second is the vocabulary and construction of language, which is so much more eloquent and attractive to me than modern prose.

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • Mr J.
    4/20/15
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    "great narrator for a tedious classic"

    never have enjoyed this classic - well read but doesn't save the tedious prose but of you want to any version o recommend this one

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • LorLor
    1/27/15
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    "Unforgettable!"

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

    4 of 4 people found this review helpful
  • chris
    12/8/16
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    "Prepare to never be the same"

    A story that speaks to the hearts of all men. Branagh brings the dense and conversational prose of the old sailor and adventurer Marlow to fantastic and awful life in this excellent reading of Conrad's classic tale. Darkness is timeless, placeless, it is within us and those of us who have seen and felt it wear it like a veil, walk with it as a companion whose shadow stretches out around us and casts a horrible shade over us.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Emmanuel Zakebam
    Buenos Aires
    11/28/16
    Overall
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    "Unmissable!"

    A mellifluous romp through the darkest recesses of the human soul, beautiful and bitter in equal measure... Branagh's reading is unsurpassable and captures every subtlety of the text. Unmissable!

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Russell
    5/21/16
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    "Amazing!"

    Superb narration, having read the book myself I can't believe how Branagh's performance modernises the book. He also closes the gap between Apocalypse Now and the novel that inspired it. More signature performances please

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • dot_stockport
    5/20/16
    Overall
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    "interesting"

    as an artefact of the late nineteenth century this book, with its focus on a white mans fascination with another white man cannot do justice to collonialism. However, this is a fictionalised account of imperialism written by a witness and its not pretty. the prorangonist is a european who does not claim to understand the cultures that are being trampled over and from this position of disassociated ignorance there is no way that he can represent anything but his own view. but even from this problematic stance he starts to humanise a period in global history which by its very scale is apt to seem anonymous.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  • Fiona
    5/13/16
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    "Just bliss"

    Such a strange eerie story. So beautifully read - Kenneth Branagh has such a rich, expressive voice. Highly recommended.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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