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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.
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.
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
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!!
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.
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!
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.
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.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I love this movie and, contrary to other comments....I loved the book upon
which this film was based. Dinesen wrote almost poetic prose describing her
The love story is/was secondary to her love of Africa. I've read her biographies and I believe that the loss of her farm was much more dear to her than the loss of Denis.
If you're looking for a well told story translated onto film, this movie is a must. Watch Streep's wonderful man-servant. He will break your heart when he says, "Your name is Karin, Sabu," at the end of the film. Such loyalty.
Enjoy this love letter to Africa.
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