Follows the life of Karen Blixen, who establishes a plantation in Africa. Her life is Complicated by a husband of convenience (Bror Blixen), a true love (Denys), troubles on the plantation, schooling of the natives, war, and catching VD from her husband.Written by
Tony Bridges <email@example.com>
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.
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