Heart of Darkness
Digital Video
105 minutes 13 seconds
Colour, stereo, 25 fps, PAL
2000
Edition 5

 

This project features Nicolas Roeg’s 1993 film adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart of Darkness filmed through a kaleidoscope with the original audio left intact. Heart of Darkness was first published in 1902, while Nicolas Roeg’s film adaptation was released in 1993. Conrad’s novel enjoys considerable academic and popular interest in the West and has been credited by leading literary scholars to be “amoung the half dozen greatest short novels in the English language”. [1] But outside this framework the appeal is considerably less:

"I am talking about a book which parades in the most vulgar fashion prejudices and insults from which a section of mankind has suffered untold agonies and atrocities in the past and continues to do so in many ways and many places today. I am talking about a story in which the very humanity of black people is called in question." [2]

By retaining the film’s original audio, the narrative of Conrad’s story (from which the screenplay was created) is kept intact. The kaleidoscope lens however reduces Roeg’s visuals to an ever evolving and shifting colourful pattern, reminiscent of the vague, generic ‘ethnic’ fabric prints popular in tourist markets. The vital visual component of the film has been interrupted for the purpose of questioning Roeg’s decision to shoot a film about colonial Africa on location in Belize in South America. What were the motives behind choosing to make a film in 1993 based on Heart of Darkness and to then decide to film it on the wrong continent?

[1] Gerard, J.; Introduction to Heart fo Darkness; New American Library; New York; 1950; p.9

[2] Achebe, C.; An Image of Africa: Conrad’s Heart of Darkness; in Moore-Gilbert, B.; Stanton, G. and Maley, W. (Editors); Postcolonial Criticism; Longman; New York; 1997; p. 121