Liberal arts students know that Joseph Conrad's famous novella, Heart of Darkness, was well ahead of its time, since it addresses issues that we face in today’s society. Originally published in 1899 as a three-part story in Blackwood's Magazine, and later as a book in 1902, Heart of Darkness tells the tale of Charles Marlow as he journeys to find the infamous ivory trader Mr. Kurtz along the Congo River.
When Heart of Darkness was published in 1902, it had a political impact and was frequently cited by the Congo Reform Movement. The novella brings up important questions about socio-economic class, racism, and imperialism. By 1998, Heart of Darkness was ranked 67th on the Modern Library's list of the 100 best novels in English of the twentieth century.
If you have recently started a liberal arts program, you will likely read Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, or at least see one of its modern adaptations. Read on to discover a few of the many works inspired by Conrad’s novel.
Modern Film Adaptations of the Classic Novel
One film adaptation recognized among many great books college students is Francis Ford Coppola's film Apocalypse Now, which is based on the Vietnam War. Filmed in 1979, the movie stars Martin Sheen, who plays US Army Captain Benjamin R. Willard. Willard receives orders to travel up-river and terminate the command of Colonel Walter E. Kurtz. Kurtz is played by Marlon Brando, and this is considered to be one of his most famous roles.
A documentary titled Hearts of Darkness: A Filmmaker's Apocalypse was released in 1991. It was filmed to depict how the difficulties that Coppola and his film crew faced while making Apocalypse Now mirrored several themes found in the original book.
In 1993, another film adaptation was released starring Tim Roth as Marlow and John Malkovitch as Kurtz. The film bore the same name as Joseph Conrad’s novel and originally aired on TNT.
The Classic Work Adapted for Radio and Stage Plays
While pursuing a liberal arts education, you will learn that some of the earliest adaptations of Conrad's novel were created for radio and stage performance. In fact, similar productions have been made in recent years as well. Some of these include:
- Orson Welles made and starred in an adaptation of Heart of Darkness for a CBS Radio broadcast in 1938
- Australian playwright Larry Buttrose wrote and staged a theatrical version of the book titled Kurtz in 1991
- Tarik O'Regan composed an operatic adaptation of Heart of Darkness in 2011, at London's Royal Opera House
Other Adaptations that Liberal Arts Students Might be Familiar with
Within the past decade, Heart of Darkness made its way into playable media through video games. Game adaptations for various consoles and PC platforms that depict the storyline from the book include; Far Cry 2 (2008), Spec Ops: the Line (2012), and Victoria II: Heart of Darkness expansion pack (2013).