To emphasize this theme of darkness from the beginning, Conrad’s narration took place in the Thames tidal estuary. Marlow recounted that London in ancient times was itself a dark place from the point of view of the Romans. This theme of darkness lurking beneath the surface would appear often as Conrad described the character of Kurtz and through his narrator with his passing sense of understanding with the Africans. In a paragraph, for instance, Marlow said:
I tried to break the spell [Marlow says] – the heavy, mute spell of the wilderness – that seemed to draw him to its pitiless breast by the awakening of forgotten and brutal instincts, by the memory of gratified and monstrous passions. This alone I was convinced, had driven him out of the edge of the forest, to the bush, toward the gleam of fires, the throb of drums, the drone of weird incantations… He had kicked himself loose of the earth… His soul was mad. (p. 183)
The darkness theme can also be found in other themes in the novella such as the naiveté of Europeans regarding the various forms of darkness in Congo, the European colonialists’ abuse and exploitation of the Africans and the human nature’s tendency of duplicity.
The Heart of Darkness has at least 10 film or television adaptations after its publication.. A problem in regard to adapting this work of fiction is how to translate the first person narrative first, in the radio adaption; and, second, in film adaptations later on. Marguerite Rippy cited the approach of substituting the eye of the camera for “I” of Conrad’s narrator. (p. 30) Here, the camera would become Marlow, whose voice would be heard offscreen. This has been implemented in Orson Welles’ adaptation of the novella. He successfully adapted the material in 1938 and that he was eager to reproduce the material on film.
Film adaptations of the Heart of Darkness have focused on different interpretations. For example,