At Sea, In Port, Up the River: Orson Welles’s Conrad Adaptations


Conrad was more than a mere influence. He was also a direct source of story material. Welles considered himself “made for Conrad” and frequently returned to Conrad’s original stories. Adaptation often functioned as Welles’s most intensive process of reading – honouring, personalising, and arguing with – his favourite books. He directed Heart of Darkness twice for radio and narrated an abridged audiobook of “The Secret Sharer” shortly before his death. But in cinema his Conrad aspirations were frustrated. Declaring that “every Conrad story is a movie,” he always met obstacles in producing one himself….

A new article at Bright Lights Film Journal, based on archival research at the University of Michigan and the Museo Nazionale Del Cinema in Turin: At Sea, In Port, Up the River: Orson Welles’s Conrad Adaptations

See also a related interview with Ray Kelly at Wellesnet: Orson Welles’ fascination with the works of Joseph Conrad

Part of this work was presented at the Joseph Conrad Society conference in London in July 2019. See a report at Unproduced Orson Welles ‘Surinam’ script to be detailed by Matthew Asprey Gear at literary conference