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This is one of those rare movies that has something for everybody and is
nearly perfect in many respects. Many of the negative comments about the
film here are one dimensional and fail to see the multiple levels on
the movie operates.
First, there's the political level: Colonial Africa before, during, and after World War II populated by all of Europe (and America), and Karen Blixen caught in the middle between Germany and England. Interestingly, the settlers are willing to die for their countries eventhough they have little idea why they are going to war, and communication between Kenya and Europe lags by months, not weeks.
There's the sociological level: White Europeans attempting to civilize and Westernize an essentially foreign land and people. I think the movie does a great job of intimating how the Kikuyus, the Somali, and Masai saw European settlers in their land - comical, enigmatic, and out of their element. Instead of fading into the background, the movie would fail without the simple wisdom of Farah who knows more than any of the white settlers in his land. ("This water must go to Mombasa". "God is great, Saboo"). Interestingly, Sikh Indians are brought to the English Gentlemen's club to act as servants and when Karen dares to enter the men's only den, it's the Sikh who is responsible for escorting her out; none of the English "gentlemen" have the balls or nerve to do it. An interesting observation on the English White man's view of the world before World War I.
Historically, the film portrays real people with some fidelity since all of the characters, even Farah and Kumante, were based on actual people; Kumante was even alive and consulted during the filming in 1982/3. The character of Felicity is based on Beryl Markham, a truly magnificent woman who wrote "West with the Night" which might even portray colonial Africa better than Isak Dineson did.
As a travel log, the movie works as well as any National Geographic since we see, (vicariously through Karen) as she watches a platoon of Masai warriers running through salt flats in full battle dress, as she learns about lions in wild, and how a herd of Elephants looks and sounds from a biplane.
Narratively, "Out of Africa" is not just a "chic flic" as someone posted, unless the poster thinks that all romances are essentially chic flics. I generally can't stand romances, but this operates not just as a romance between people (Karen and Blix, Karen and Dennis) but between people and place. The passion they felt for each other was matched or exceeded by their passion for Africa. When the movie was over, I too had fallen in love with Africa.
The movie can be watched simply for its Cinematography, editing, sound, and set design alone. What other movie integrates poetry by Coleridge and Houseman, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, and the writing of Isak Dineson so easily that you barely notice it? Many scenes translate into still works of art: A bottle of wine and peaches on the hunting table, a Victrola playing Mozart in the African bush, a rainbow over raging falls, lions surveying the land from the Ngong hills.
Such a great and beautiful movie. One that I will watch over and over again until an opportunity to see Victoria falls comes my way.
By the way. I agree that the weakest link in the movie is Robert Redford as Dennis Finch Hadden since his accent is non-existent, but then again I thought that as an American in colonial England (as Hemingway was at this same time), it plays much better.
My favorite movie of all time, hands down. I watched it for the first
time in the theatre. As it ended, the audience sat motionless and quiet
for several beats, then burst into loud applause as the ending credits
rolled. I'm not always so prophetic, but I was incredibly moved. I said
to my husband, "We've just seen the Academy Award winner." If I had no
other basis for recommendation, I would say the breathtaking
cinematography and transporting musical score would make a viewing
worthwhile (case in point: the main theme playing as Denys Finch Hatton
gives Karen Blixen her first airplane ride, and we what she sees, as
God must have seen it). But these are merely the window dressings.
There are two movie cuts floating around, which I tried to pursue through Universal, and then Disney. Forget it. Suffice to say there is a theatrical version and a Disney TV version, with little consequential difference to the plot except that the latter edits out a little of Karen's physical lovemaking with Denys and slightly expands her intellectual relationship with Farah; which to some degree helped buttress the development of his absolute devotion to her.
The screenplay resembles Isaak Dinesen's semi-autobiographical book very little; even so, she did not tell the whole truth in her book. You'll have to get over it, except that I think the character development suffered the loss of Blixen's deep involvement with the displaced Kikuyu tribe working her coffee plantation. Also, without an understanding of the historical times, it would be too easy to say simplistically that this is a woman trying to live within the terms of a marriage of convenience and then compensating with pursuit of a doomed passion.
What was crafted out of a mishmash of a more-or-less factual account and director Sydney Pollack's vision is still a beautiful love and adventure story in the midst of British colonial rule and an earlier, more racially and sexually biased era.
Klaus Maria Brandauer as Baron Bror von Blixen (whew! - who called Karen "Tannen," adding to my initial confusion) perfectly portrays that fun man you like immensely but could never really trust with anything important like your feelings. He along with several of the key male figures and symbols in this movie will eventually bow in respect to the "man" Karen Blixen becomes despite his often shabby treatment and other travails, because she rises above it all and perseveres. Redford plays mostly Redford. His Finch Hatton's sense of independence is fragile and illusory and will ultimately cost him dearly.
There are a couple of continuity problems that bother me to this day, including the disappearing-reappearing champagne and the continually retracking parade marchers, but for the most part few expenses or attentions to detail were spared, especially in the lavish costuming. "Bare-breasted native women" will unfortunately also make their National Geographic appearance.
Even so, Out of Africa is a treasure with a half dozen or more perfect and unforgettable scenes; a movie as long as this review, but I hope you'll agree, worth your patience.
OUT OF AFRICA is based on the memoirs of Danish writer Karen Blixen (pen name, Isak Dinesen) in a coffee plantation in present day Kenya. It explains how this brave woman overcomes the stereotype of a dainty, colonial British lady by running the coffee farm while her husband Bror Blixen (Brandauer) led a life of hunting and infidelities. Meryl Streep is great as Karen Blixen. She manages to maintain the realistic Danish accent through the whole film. Redford is great as Denys Finch-Hatton, the Etonian hunter who keeps companion in her loneliest and hardest. But the real attraction of the film is he outstanding photography of the African landscape together with the sweeping John Barry soundtrack that is probably the most beautiful movie soundtrack of the 1980s. OUT OF AFRICA will be regarded as Sydney Pollack's asterpiece and a Classic of our times.
What a memorable gem of a movie!! I thought this film deserved every one of
its seven Academy Awards it got. After viewing this film again I'm just
stupefied why didn't Meryl Streep win Best Actress in this movie. The role
of Karen Blixen was very complex and she performed it beautifully. This is
probably right up there with "Sophie's Choice" and "Kramer vs. Kramer" both
Award winning performances for her and this is right there with "Bridges of
Madison County" and "A Cry in the Dark".
Syndey Pollock hit the nail right on the head with this classic beautiful cinematography. The acting is excellent by Streep, Redford, and Klaus Maria Brandeur. I liked the scene when Karen (Streep) wants her servant to address her by her name and he said "You are Karen, Sabu". I also loved the owl that she had in her room - it was a small one, but it was so cute and I loved it.
If you have a chance to rent this movie, please do - it is a classic. I love the beginning line "I had a farm in Africa" it was so moving!!
I had heard of this film quite alot but had never seen it. Today I did and was amazed. It is based on the life of a danish female author who moves to Africa. Meryl Streep is exellent as the lead role and keeps a believable danish accent all the way through the film. Robert Redford is also excellent as. But of course the best feature of this film is the beautiful African scnery. It captivates the viewer and I think even if the acting was poor the scenery would still make you like the film. I cannot think of any other film I have seen that has matched this one. I recommened it to anyone. This truly is a touching, marvellous film
This film is a masterpiece in all aspects. Of course, it's not for those looking for action or a fast-paced plot -- this film allows you to meet and get to know the characters with their virtues and foibles. The cinematography is incredible and John Barry's score is matchless; one of the very few scores which would diminish a film if absent. Meryl Streep was robbed of the Oscar; her meticulous German/Danish accent was first-rate. If I had to name the weakest attribute of the film, it's the casting of Robert Redford as Denys. He did a fine job, and it was understandable that he was cast in that role, due to his bankability, but in reality, Denys was not American. Redford is a bit too all-American for this role, but it's a minor detraction. This film is my next purchase on DVD -- I've seen it dozens of times and I never tire of it.
Fifty years ago I was living in the Kenya highlands, only a few miles from the old Blixen farm. Not a great deal had changed since the 1920s, the period of the movie, which manages a reasonable re-creation. However, the background is unlikely to mean much to Americans, only confirming unreal stereotypes of the colonial British. Meryl Steep, as we have come to expect, is superb in the part; and in 2003 she co-narrated a wonderful documentary on the remarkable Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen), to whom in fact she bears some physical resemblance. Robert Redford is badly miscast, and why the producers didn't get one of many superb English actors for the part I can't imagine. As a love story well told in what to most people will be an exotic setting, beautifully photographed, it should be highly rated, justifying its many awards.
Out Of Africa is a poetical rendition of an Africa that is slowly losing its
exotic appeal to the Western World.
Sydney Pollack directs this brilliant movie with skill, helped no doubt by a well-written script. The performances are above average, although Robert Redford might have lost his opportunity at an Oscar for refusing to play an Englishman.
Sometimes slow, and perhaps even boring, the sets nonetheless capture the viewer for their sheer beauty, and the score is just great to listen.
A small classic that hasn't lost its strenght over the years, and still entertains me after multiple viewings.
What makes a good film? It's funny I lent my DVD of this to a mate
recently and although she didn't hate it she didn't get it either.
Which surprised me because, to me, there has never been any doubt in my
mind about the beauty and quality of this film. Anyway I was surfing
IMDb and decided to look at this page. There is (or was) a thread on
the discussion board about whether this was a good or bad film, I
clicked on it. I have never (in my modest surfing of this site) seen
such a big thread. Surely a film that evokes that much passion (the
majority of which was positive and defencive) has achieved something.
I'm not saying that Out of Africa is the best film I've ever seen (I've yet to see that one!) but I think I can safely say that it has secured a place for itself both in cinematic history and the future of entertainment. You see at it heart it is a well made, timeless epic.
Yes there will always be the people who take exception to the accents, dislike the ending or believes it drags on for too long, but that's their lost, I can't help thinking they haven't been patient enough (and this annoys me).
You see the thing is in many ways the endless beauty of this film lies in its subtleties. Yes you have Meryl Streep and Redford flanked by the scenery and music, but for me it's the things like Pollock's direction, Michael Kitchen's performance and Karen's interaction with member's of the tribe that make the film.
Part of me wants to tie my mate to a chair and make her sit and watch this until she gets it. The other half is slightly relieved, because I feel that with her rejection this film is ever so slightly more exclusively mine, and I know that although I'm still only young I will always have time a space for it!
This is an overlong film derived from Isak Dinesen's memoirs of running
a coffee plantation in Kenya in the early years of the twentieth
century. The book is a different kettle of fish altogether, but I won't
go into that. Sydney Pollock does a fine job of directing here, but in
a way the movie is almost overproduced. There was, it seems, so much
time and money to play with that the film drags an awful lot. Kurt
Luedtke's script is laconic in the Hemingway manner, and very smart,
though some of the ultra-sophisticated one-liners began to irritate me
after a while. Pollock has a fine dramatic instinct and I wish that
there was more drama in this film for him to lavish his talent on. The
location shooting is superb, and the depiction of home and village life
in colonial Africa is nicely done. I find the romance between Dinesen
(called by her real name, Baroness Karen Blixen) and aviator-adventurer
Denis Finch-Hatton, less than compelling, partly because, as the
latter, Robert Redford refuses to use a British accent, which gives the
movie a Hollywood feel, not a bad thing in itself, but the film was
made in Africa, with a mostly British cast, and Meryl Streep as Blixen
uses an impeccable Danish accent, which makes Redford seem like a fish
out of water. This is bothersome because in many ways Redford is well
cast in the role, thus his American diction seems like sheer
willfulness on his part, which it probably was. Streep is fine in her
role, and is especially good in her grand dame moments, as lady of the
There are some worthwhile incidental pleasures in this film. John Barry's fine score is perfect for the material, and really soars near the end, appropriately I imagine since one of the two main characters is an aviator. In supporting roles, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Michael Kitchen, Suzanna Hamilton and Michael Gough work small wonders. The use of Mozart, while true to life, makes this post-Amadeus film seem already like a period piece; the period being the 1980's. Mozart was all the rage in those days. His great music is, however, non- if not anti-emotional, and it's odd that it was used so often in the movie. The effect of the music is somewhat intimidating in the context of the romance at the center of the film, as it doesn't suit at all what's happening on screen, which can't help but make the viewer think that perhaps he's missing something; or maybe the film is just too smart for him. This is, again, a very eighties sort of feeling, of the sort of one gets from watching Chariots Of Fire, or listening to the music David Byrne and Laurie Anderson.
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