Peter Cornwell Lands Adaptation of 'Heart of Darkness' Set in Space

June 30, 2011

Heart of Darkness

After helming the generic supernatural horror flick The Haunting in Connecticut, director Peter Cornwell is heading into space. Variety reports the filmmaker is behind an adaptation of Joseph Conrad's 1902 novella Heart of Darkness. However, this take on the classic story, called Into the Darkness, will turn it into a sci-fi film set in space. Though the novella has been around for over 100 years, after reading the synopsis, it's not hard to see how it can be adapted for a space setting. In short, it follows a ferryboat captain named Charles Marlow as he attempts to return an ivory trader names Kurtz back to civilization.

Here's a more detailed synopsis of the classic story:

The story tells of Charles Marlow, an Englishman who took a foreign assignment from a Belgian trading company as a ferry-boat captain in Africa. Heart of Darkness exposes the myth behind colonization while exploring the three levels of darkness that the protagonist, Marlow, encounters--the darkness of the Congo wilderness, the darkness of the European's cruel treatment of the natives, and the unfathomable darkness within every human being for committing heinous acts of evil. Although Conrad does not give the name of the river, at the time of writing the Congo Free State, the location of the large and important Congo River, was a private colony of Belgium's King Leopold II. Marlow is employed to transport ivory downriver. However, his more pressing assignment is to return Kurtz, another ivory trader, to civilization, in a cover-up. Kurtz has a reputation throughout the region. This symbolic story is a story within a story or frame narrative. It follows Marlow as he recounts from dusk through to late night, to a group of men aboard a ship anchored in the Thames Estuary his Congolese adventure. The passage of time and the darkening sky during the fictitious narrative-within-the-narrative parallel the atmosphere of the story.

Clearly the different levels of darkness could easily be different planets in outer space, and should make for an interesting adaptation. This isn't the first loose adaptation of the material as Francis Ford Coppola's iconic film Apocalypse Now was based on the novella as well. That explains why the documentary about the near doomed making of the film was called Hearts of Darkness. I'm not entirely confident in Cornwell's after The Haunting in Connecticut, and writer Tony Giglio (who has scripted Death Race 2) scripting doesn't help matters any. Anyway, the concept at least has me interested, so maybe this could turn out all right.

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"Reading the synopsis..." Waitaminute. Have you not read this book? It's required.

Anonymous on Jun 30, 2011


Such a great book! but i bet this adaptation will not be good.

happy camper on Jun 30, 2011


Yeah that book is pretty amazing, it was addictive reading.

Crapola on Jun 30, 2011


Honestly, I don't know how the horrors King Leopold unleashed on the Congolese can be credibly transferred to a space movie.

CinemaNostalgia on Jun 30, 2011


Hey, it's possible...I mean, it was transferred to Vietnam...remember APOCALYPSE NOW? And even ALIEN had a few Conrad refs--I mean, the name of the ship was the Nostromo, which is the title of one of Conrad's novels!

Anonymous on Jul 1, 2011


I don't particularly mind that they are doing another adaptation, but I can't imagine it will come anywhere near close to Apocalypse Now. That movie is flawless, and is film making on a level that very few people in Hollywood these days could even come close too. And don't give me that "its just entertainment" excuse, because Conrad's novel is a complex and brutal thing, and to adapt it any other way would be a disservice. Also, Death Race 2.

Lebowski on Jul 1, 2011


Agreed about AN, Lebowski, but don't forget that it was also hammered by critics when it came out. I remember in an English class in high school we read HEART OF DARKNESS and then watched AN afterwards to compare and contrast the two.  Of course, this was before they had made the film version of HOD (or it was probably a miniseries for TNT, I think).

Anonymous on Jul 1, 2011

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