Study Guide compares the book Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad to the movie Heart of Darkness (1993 TV movie) This is the only movie of Heart of Darkness. The screenplay is fairly accurate until Kurtz is introduced. Some characters and plot points are added to the film and others from the book are omitted. The tone, settings, and main themes of the book remain intact, including racism, colonialism, moral corruption, and the question of who is more civilized – the European or the African?
THE MOVIE HEART OF DARKNESS
IS NOT LIKE THE BOOK by Joseph Conrad
RECOMMENDED MOVIE: Heart of Darkness (1993 TV movie) starring Tim Roth, John Malkovich and Iman. Directed by Nicolas Roeg. TNT Original Movie.
WHAT’S IN THE BOOK THAT’S NOT IN THE MOVIE?
Marlow’s friends on the Nellie, Marlow’s aunt, the knitting women, the rivets, the rotten hippo meat, the pilgrims, the wood with the note, the Russian’s harlequin rags, Kurtz’s escape from the steamer, the Inspector, Kurtz’s cousin, the journalist . . .
WHAT’S IN THE MOVIE THAT’S NOT IN THE BOOK?
White necklaces, stolen boys, photographs of Kurtz and King Leopold, dead elephant, dead monkey, naked portrait of the Intended, Marlow’s theft of Kurtz’s papers, the woman’s attack on Marlow, barge full of ivory, characters of Jaeger, Mifumu, Verme . . .
WHAT’S THE SAME?
The Nellie, the office in Belgium, the stations, the cannibals, the Accountant, the Manager, Kurtz’s painting, the beautiful native woman, Kurtz’s report, the Russian, the Intended . . .
THE MOVIE: SUMMARY
The following is a scene-by-scene comparison of the movie to the corresponding chapters in the book.
THE MOVIE: CHAPTER 1
Opening Scene: An elephant hide appears on screen as the credits run. (NOTE: The novel involves 19th century African ivory trade, but no elephants appear in the story) The voice of Marlow says that the story is about one of the dark places on the earth. (ACCURATE) The opening scene is on a yacht moored in the Thames River in London. (ACCURATE) A man named Jaeger from a European trading company demands that Marlow hand over Kurtz’s papers. (ERROR: Not in the book. In the book the Director of Companies on the yacht is Marlow’s friend. No character named Jaeger appears in the book) Jaeger says that the European exploitation of Africa is no different from the Roman exploitation of Britain. (ERROR: In the book Marlow says this) Marlow says that the trading company has been trying to get him to hand over Kurtz’s papers for eight years. (ERROR: Not in the book) The accountant has set up a game of dominoes but no one wants to play. (ACCURATE, but in the book the accountant is Marlow’s friend) The lawyer says nothing. (ACCURATE, but in the book the lawyer is Marlow’s friend) Jaeger’s argument is that Kurtz had knowledge of unexplored territory that is invaluable to science. (ERROR: In the book in Chapter 3 an Inspector from the trading company visits Marlow and uses this argument to no avail) Marlow refuses to surrender Kurtz’s papers to the company. (ACCURATE, but this occurs at the end of the book in Chapter 3) Marlow tells Jaeger that Kurtz did not give him the papers. (ERROR: In the book Kurtz entrusts his papers to Marlow for safe-keeping just before he dies)