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Out of Africa (1985) Poster

(1985)

Trivia

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Early in the film, Baroness Karen Blixen is introduced to her servants. Although the scene is inter-cut with close-ups and other inserts in the film, the first take was filmed as one long shot. The prolonged take required Streep to meet and exchange dialogue with several other characters. As soon as director Sydney Pollack yelled "Cut," Streep, wearing a high-collared shirt and snug jacket, yelled "get this thing off of me!" and ripped open her jacket. A beetle the size of Streep's hand had crawled down the front of the jacket moments after the camera rolled, yet she continued filming the scene, Much of it remains in the final film.
In one scene, Karen Blixen, travels across dangerous terrain to bring supply wagons to her husband's regiment. During the night, a lion attacks one of the oxen and Karen tries to fight it off with a whip. Meryl Streep was assured that the lion would be tethered by one of its back legs so he couldn't get too close. When the scene was shot, the lion had no restraint. The lion got closer than Streep anticipated; the fear on her face is real.
Sydney Pollack initially never considered Meryl Streep for the role of Karen Blixen as he figured she wasn't sexy enough. Streep landed the part by showing up for her meeting with the director wearing a low-cut blouse and a push-up bra.
To this day (19 March 2007), Karen Blixen remains the only woman who has ever been invited to drink in the men's bar at the Muthaiga Country Club. Even though the club has relaxed certain rules, even allowing men without jacket and tie in certain parts of the club, the rule for men only remains. Another bar allows women.
Meryl Streep developed her accent by listening to actual recordings of Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) reading her works.
The film's production designers used a great deal of Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen's own furniture, which she never sent back to Denmark after departing Kenya.
Meryl Streep was extremely nervous throughout the hair-washing scene, which was shot close to some very territorial hippopotamus.
When Denys washes Karen Blixen's hair, he quotes from "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner" by Samuel Taylor Coleridge. One line, "He prayeth well, who loveth well both man and bird and beast," is inscribed on the real Denys Finch Hatton's gravestone.
The film was shot on location in Africa, but local laws prohibited the use of wild animals in film. Trained lions were imported from California.
Actual descendants of the Kikuyu tribe who were described in the book appeared in the film. It was also filmed near the actual Ngong Hills outside Nairobi in Kenya.
Robert Redford initially intended to play Denys Finch Hatton, as an Englishman. That was later nixed by director Sydney Pollack, who felt it would be too distracting for audiences. Redford had to overdub some of his lines from early takes, when he used a trace of English accent.
Audrey Hepburn was originally offered the role of Karen Blixen.
The story was originally planned as a project for Greta Garbo. At various times, Orson Welles, David Lean and Nicolas Roeg had tried to make a film about Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen).
Production designer Stephen B. Grimes spent a year building a replica of Nairobi circa 1913 and Karen Blixen's house. The film's sets were built not that far from where Blixen had once lived. In fact, that district now bears the name "Karen".
The scenes set in a wintry Denmark were actually filmed in Northern England.
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Released in 1985, the centenary of Karen Blixen's birth.
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About 70% of the movie was actually filmed in Africa.
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The pilot in the scene where the flamingos take flight was Sir Henry Dalrymple-White, a British Baronet and former WW2 pilot who moved in Kenya in the 1940s. He flew until he was 80.
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While he was editing the picture, director Sydney Pollack used musical selections from John Barry to act as his temp track. When it came the time to actually score the film, Barry seemed like the perfect choice.
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Klaus Maria Brandauer was always Sydney Pollack's first choice to play Bror Blixen. Pollack had been particularly taken by his performance in Never Say Never Again (1983).
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Felicity is modeled on Beryl Markham, another writer who lived in East Africa and was supposed to be another of Denys Finch Hatton lovers. Markham was also one of the first women to fly across the Atlantic. Sydney Pollack was fortunate enough to meet the elderly Markham early in pre-production.
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Industrial strength fire extinguishers were used to keep lions at bay.
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Leslie Phillips developed considerable kidney trouble, due to dehydration, during filming.
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Sydney Pollack shot the film in 1.85: 1 against his preference of anamorphic wide-screen because he was tired of having his films cropped off for TV presentations.
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Leslie Phillips's cameo role in this film won him the part of Mr. Maxted in Empire of the Sun (1987).
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It took director Sydney Pollack and writer Kurt Luedtke two years to find the spine of Karen Blixen's stories upon which they could hang the elements of the plot.
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David Rayfiel did an uncredited rewrite of the script.
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Spoilers 

The trivia items below may give away important plot points.

In reality, Karen and Denys' romance was slightly different. They met at a hunting club, not out on the plains. He disappeared for two years on military assignment in Egypt. He started flying and taking tourists on safaris after he moved in with Karen, not before. The film never mentions that Karen miscarried their baby. In reality, Karen Blixen learned of her lover's death from some friends in Nairobi.
At Finch Hatton's funeral, Karen Blixen reads from A.E. Housman's poem, "To an Athlete Dying Young." Her toast in the bar borrows from Housman's, "With Rue My Heart is Laden".
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Nicolas Roeg planned to direct the film in the early 70s, using a screenplay written by Judith Rascoe. The scene where Bror informs Karen Blixen of Finch Hatton's death is a leftover from that treatment.
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