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 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!
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.
When "Out of Africa" was released in 1985, I never really thought much of it. Give a break already; I was only nine years old when it was released. I was more interested in G.I. action figures and Saturday morning cartoons. This is a romantic period piece that starred Meryl Streep and Robert Redford and was directed by the late Sydney Pollack. As a frisky kid I thought my mother was crazy sitting there for two hours and half watching this movie. I was bit questionable as to why deserved the accolades it got including being nominated for seven Academy Awards. I often times walked out of overlong mundane movies, but I thought that if my mother could sit thought it; I might as well give it a chance. I found myself as an adult to have not only faithfully stayed on my seat for the duration I also felt that this movie is intriguing.
"Out of Africa" has a script by Kurt Luedtke based on the many works of well-known Danish author Karen Blixen (under the moniker Isak Dinesen) after she went home after living for many years in Africa in the 1930's. During her stay in Africa, Blixen (Streep) is faced with a loveless marriage to an unfaithful aristocratic cousin (Klaus Maria Brandauer), had a coffee plantation that never blossomed and while WWI was in effect, she encounters the many changes that materializes as a result behind the devastation. In the novel, she never fully explains much about her relationship with Denys (Robert Redford), except that he was living with her for awhile and was a big game hunter and flew a plane. Her relationship with Denys was more emphasized in other novels that she penned.
Meryl Streep turns in an excellent performance and Sydney Pollack's direction was handled with well enough care, giving us a believable interpretation of the Africa that was depicted from Miss Blixen's novel. Robert Redford is great in a supporting performance, but his English accent cannot do him any justice and there is not enough depth as to what makes him the way he is. The film itself is not only a one-note romantic drama, but an in depth look at Africa in all its glory and seen through the eyes of Miss Blixen. And we see Africa as a great continent with wonderful people and its diversity, the beautiful animals that feed off the lands and the gorgeous plantation thanks mainly to the brilliant cinematography by David Watkin.
I just wished there was more exploration of the African people, but I guess Luedtke decided to focus more on the main plot which was the romantic build-up between Denys and Karen. But I just sat and watched the film with a free mind as I watched Karen and the men she had in her life. By the time the film ended I had a better understanding of who Karen Blixen really is. She is a person that anyone could relate to. I also understood why this movie was a box office success. It led me to an era that's virtually obsolete. After years of having a metaphoric blind eye, I turned a new leaf on this story as "Out of Africa" is a very solid movie that I would recommend to anyone to watch. I may have looked away from it for decades, but now at 37 years old I enjoyed it immensely and can understand why it was two hours and forty-five minutes long.
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 manor.
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.
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 beloved Africa.
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.
Before 1985, Karen Blixen was not a widely known figure in the English- speaking world, even though she was an English-language writer as well as a Danish-language one. Indeed, she was best known as "Isak Dinesen", having oddly adopted a male pseudonym, even though it was quite obvious that the author of the autobiographical "Out of Africa" was a woman. After the film came out, new editions of Blixen's novels were on the shelves of all the bookshops, generally credited to "Karen Blixen (Isak Dinesen)". The cultural influence of Hollywood can be positive as well as negative.
The film is based on Blixen's best-known book, telling the story of her life in Kenya, to which she and her husband Bror had moved to take up farming, between 1913 and the early 1930s. The book also tells of Karen's relationship with the large white settler community in the colony, her divorce from Bror and her love affair with the big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton.
Although the real Finch Hatton was an English aristocrat, Robert Redford here plays him with an American accent, although he is never referred to as an American in the film and the audience is probably supposed to accept him as British; he takes part in British military operations in 1914, at a time when America was still neutral. Apparently Redford wanted to play the part with an English accent but this was vetoed by director Sydney Pollack, who found Redford's accent unconvincing. This piece of miscasting was much criticised in Britain. It is certainly received wisdom that no film can do well at the American box-office without at least one major Hollywood star in the cast, but this film already had such a star in the shape of Meryl Streep. Pollack probably just wanted to do a good turn to an old friend; he and Redford had previously worked together on several films.
Streep's own accent ("I haad a faarm in Aafrika....") has been criticised for sounding insufficiently Danish and also praised, Leaving that controversy aside, however, her performance here, for which she received an Oscar nomination, is well up to her usual standards. It seems odd that Pollack originally did not want to use her on the grounds that she "did not have enough sex appeal", as there is no reason why Karen Blixen needs to be played as a sexy glamour girl. She was, however, evidently a woman of intelligence and humanity, and these are qualities which Streep is well able to convey. Klaus Maria Brandauer is generally better acting in his native German, but this is one of his better English-language performances, making Bror seem a likable rogue even when we learn just how badly he has treated his wife.
Pollack was able to direct films in several different styles, and "Out of Africa" is very different in terms of its pacing and visual style to his earlier films like "This Property is Condemned", "The Electric Horseman" and "Tootsie". It was made as a grand, sweeping epic, similar in style to works by British directors like David Lean and Richard Attenborough whose "Gandhi" had come a couple of years before. It was perhaps a brave move on Pollock's part to make a film of this nature. Lean had come rather unstuck the previous year when he attempted to use this style for "A Passage for India", an intimate story of human relations rather than of the great political or military events which had formed the backdrop to his earlier epics.
"Out of Africa" tells, if anything, an even more intimate story than Lean's film, the story of a woman and the two men she loved. And yet, for me, it works in a way in which "A Passage to India" does not. I think that the reason is that, whereas the likes of "Gandhi" and "Dr Zhivago" are great historical epics, "Out of Africa" is a great geographical epic. In this it is comparable to some of the great American Westerns, such as Wyler's "The Big Country", or Luhrmann's more recent "Australia". Although there are some big historical set pieces, such as the victory celebration at the end of World War One, the film is really as much about the African continent and its landscapes, wildlife and indigenous people- Karen befriends the local Kikuyu people who are patronised or neglected by the other Europeans- as it is about colonialism or about the story of Karen and Denys.
Streep did not win "Best Actress"- she lost out to Geraldine Page- but the film received seven Academy Awards including "Best Picture", "Best Director" for Pollack and "Best Cinematography". The photography, particularly the scenes of the East African plains, is certainly magnificent, a kaleidoscope of the greens and yellows of the bush and the blues of the skies. The aviation scenes- Finch Hatton was a keen airman- evoke something of the same exhilaration as John Gillespie Magee's poem "High Flight". ("Oh, I have slipped the surly bonds of earth......). Another well deserved Oscar went to John Barry for "Best Original Score"; his famous theme tune sounds like the noble slow movement of some great romantic symphony and beautifully complements the mood of the film.
"Out of Africa" has a reputation in some circles as a "controversial", even "undeserved" Best Picture winner. It would not, perhaps, be my own personal choice as "best film of 1985"- that would probably be Peter Weir's "Witness"- but even so I cannot regard it as an unworthy choice by the Academy. It may be slow-moving by Hollywood standards- the most commonly-made criticism- yet its pace is appropriate to the story and to the lyrical style of Blixen's writing. The casting of Redford may have been a mistake, but overall this is a grand, stirring and often moving piece of film-making. 8/10
Watching Meryl Streep in 2011's The Iron Lady and in 1985s Out of Africa gave me two different results. While in both of them, Meryl gave her best shot, the director's approach towards the actress is very different. In Out of Africa, Meryl's character Karen is a hardworking, independent, strong-willed young baroness/plantation worker later author, while in The Iron Lady, she oscillates between an eighty year old dementia-suffering Thatcher and a middle-aged Thatcher, both authoritative.
While I do understand Phyllida's attempt to have Meryl foreshadow others to show Thatcher's dominance, the movie itself became a one-woman show that barely gave a s*** about the supporting cast. While in Out of Africa, Pollock never resorts to showy camera work to highlight Meryl. The camera moves through the picturesque Africa and the beautiful Meryl so naturally as if the cameraman was lost in the beauty of the entire place. While Meryl is a marvel, Pollock himself is a wise man who gave the picture an independent existence. The Iron Lady will always remain Meryl's Iron Lady.
Based on a true story, Out of Africa shows Karen Blixen's life as she adjusts to the African lifestyle while romancing Denys (Redford) and divorcing Bror (Klaus). The opening itself talks of the farm at the foot of the Ngong Hills and is voiced by Streep in a very distinctive accent. Many of her performances, especially the ones where she uses accents, are slightly difficult to accept first but shine later, even though she does sound like Sly Stallone at times, especially when she says in one scene "I want you to COME HOME". Karen marries Bror to retain her title of baroness and moves to Africa. Bror uses her money against her wishes and doesn't take care of her properly. Karen meets Denys and another guy, and invites them to her home. Both the guys are attracted to her but things go awry for one. Denys and Karen fall in love but Denys lives a very different life, independent like Karen but in a nomadic way. Karen runs the entire farm, opens up a school and acquaints and adjusts herself with the Africans.
Pollack has handled the movie tactfully, and the film is enriched by fine performances. The green verdant lands of Africa with the pastoral huts of the Africans on one hand and the lavishness of the Britishers on the other can be seen. There is this lovely scene where the tribe chief tells Karen that only tall children will go to school. When Karen tells him that sending kids would be very wise of him, the African replies that the Britishers have learned to read, but it has not helped them in any way. Still, the farmers hold respect for Karen's caring nature.
Clocking at 2 hours and 40 minutes, Out of Africa is like a landscape of a beautiful bird on its mighty flight over the flowing rivers and the dense forests. My Rating: 8 out of 10
Wonderful film. Great in every detail. Director Sydney Pollack captures every nuance of time and place, and the cast is perfection. Meryl Streep is a total wonder as the Danish woman who goes to Africa to find a life but learns about love instead. Robert Redford was much maligned when this film was released in 1985 but now seems quite fine. Michael Kitchen, Rachel Kempson, Suzanna Hamilton, and Michael Gough are all good. John Barry's beautiful score is among the best in film history: a perfect melding of times past and wistfulness and love. Gorgeous African vistas serve as a backdrop for the love story between Streep and Redford, playing real-life characters Isaak Dineson and Dennis Finch-Hatton. But this is not just a movie romance. It's a story about loss: the loss of love, the loss on innocence, the loss beauty. And it's all symbolized by the loss of Africa. War, mechanization, imperialism, westernization, progress are the evils of the early 19th century just as they are today. But the heart of this film is Meryl Streep's flawless performance. She is a wonder.
Out of Africa is based on the true story of Danish writer Karen Blixen (Streep), a gritty and fiercely determined woman who thrusts herself into the heart of the Serengeti to hammer out a new life for herself as a baroness in the untamed heart of Africa. Even as she struggles against floods, drought, and labor difficulties to launch her coffee plantation, her newly married husband, Baron Bror Blixen, soon fades from her life, reappearing from his philandering adventures only occasionally to take money from Blixen's already dwindling wealth. In the shadow of her husband's cold neglect, an enigmatic African hunter (Redford) soon enters her life, and the two are swept into an emotionally-charged romance that parallels the rugged, epic beauty of the African plains. Blixen's story ultimately ends in crushing defeat as her entire plantation is burned to the ground in the year of her most bountiful harvest. In a heart-wrenching display of love and devotion, Baroness Blixen falls to her knees before the governor to beg that the Kikuyu be protected. Blixen never again returns to Africa.
Blixen is a deep and thorny character masterfully portrayed by veteran actress Meryl Streep. Robert Redford delivers an equally stunning performance, sparking a chemistry between he and Streep that engenders one of the most endearing love stories in cinema history. Though neither Streep or Redford took home an Oscar, Out of Africa featured a cacophony of talent, masterful storytelling, and stunning cinematography that when combined brought home a deserved Academy Award for Best Picture.
A rare combination of vulnerability, feminism, and disappointment, Out of Africa dares to appeal to the subtle but powerful strength of human emotion.
This is one of those movies the more you watch, the more you see. Having watched this movie dozens of time it never ceases to amaze me how much there is in it...beauty, character, music, a way of life. While others say the story is weak, I find it to be a meditation.
Few movies ever increased in my ratings as much as this one did from first viewing to the last one - the fourth, about 5-8 years ago. I guess I am due to see this again soon.
Early on, after seeing this on widescreen, my rating of it began to increase dramatically. I hadn't realized on those first two early viewings on formatted-to-TV VHS just how beautiful this movie was shot. The accompanying music score also is outstanding. The main score, the theme song of the movie, if you will, still ranks as perhaps the prettiest I have ever heard on ANY film. (For the full version of the music, stay with the ending credits.)
In addition to a greater appreciation of the visuals and soundtrack, I enjoyed the story much more by the third time and Meryl Streep's Danish accent as "Karen Blixen" went from annoying to acceptable. It is a romance story and there isn't much action, and parts of it can drag a bit, but not for long. I even found I could enjoy this 161-minute film broken up into several viewings.
One credibility problem, the other main character: " Denys," played by Robert Redford, was supposed to be British but had a 100 percent American accent. He didn't even try to fake it! His character also was a little too secular-humanistic for me to root for him, anyway. He didn't have much a moral base ("marriage is just a sheet of paper"-type beliefs). Streep's character wasn't all that hot, either, and I'm wondering if the real Karen Blixen was more Christian-like than shown in this movie. It wouldn't surprise me. Character-wise, I liked Blixen's husband, played by Klaus Maria Brandauer, probably best in this movie.
This is such a classy-looking film that I can overlook a few flaws and too-secular main characters and enjoy what the rest has to offer: mainly the magnificent African scenery, mellow story and rich music.
This film is brilliant. I've read a lot by & about Karen von Blixen. Michael Kitchen is wonderful in his role, especially at the end when he reveals something about his life that was then taboo. The film is elegant. I advise Everyone to see it! Buy it! My former brother-in-law, Lars-Eric Lindblad, was a great Adventurer. He wanted to set up tent camps for photo safaris on the Tanganyka/Kenya border. He was an animal lover, member of World Wildlife. He did not want his tours to bother animals. He asked me to talk with a rep'of the T. travel bureau. I was a young, attractive & talkative American, tall, with red hair (like a Maasai, ha). Within 3 days, I learned that tent camps set up there would bother Silverback Gorillas as they migrated North. So Lars didn't set up tours in that area. Instead, he let me travel around Kenya for 3 months (1977). My in-laws were living in the Von Blixen home (for 5 years). I stayed in that home for a week, dreaming of Karen & writing poetry. Older native people remembered "Missi Karen." I found it strange that the native people treated me like a Queen. It is a joy to know that Karen did so much for the tribals during a time when it was common to see them as not quite people. I had learned Swahili (Baya Sana "no good" Santi Sana "bless you" or "good") because it disgusts me when people go into a country without one word of the language. When "Out of Africa" came to movie theaters, my father told me, "Dixie, This is your life!" I was then married to a cheating, mean husband who philandered all over the world. 20 years after my own "Out of Africa," I married a guy who looks like Redford & is as intelligent as Kitchen (Foyle). I shall take him to Kenya, to show him where Karen & I once lived. Go to Waa for our 25th anniversary. Please watch this film, rewind to catch the nuances of acting (esp. Michael Kitchen). Absorb the story of Kenya as it grew from a colony until just before it came into its own, the Indepence Jomo Kenyatta dreamed into reality.
It would be easy to "blame" it on Sidney Pollock, who, like George Cukor before him, seems to excel at making a "woman's picture," but unlike most of Cukor's work, this film is just dull, dull, dull.
Nevertheless, when it came out, the critics were unanimous in their praise. Meryl Streep was the darling of the film industry, Brandauer was the European star who every one wanted, and Redford was Redford. In truth, Streep's Dutch accent was nothing, if not annoying, and Brandauer looked as if he were on life support. Redford? The Englishman? This movie drove him out of acting and into directing. Name one important acting role he has had since this pretentious movie.
Sure, it was based on an autobiography, but the story, if there was one, was not compelling. If I had not been attending with my wife and another couple, I would have gotten up and walked out.
You see, handsome photography and an exotic locale, together with name stars, do not a great movie make. You have to care about the characters, and what happens to them. The stilted dialogue, the lack of action, Brandauer's indifference, Redford's wooden acting, the weak story line, the formulaic direction, and the excessive length of the picture trump what may have been an interesting autobiography written by a woman who moved to Kenya in the early 20th Century.
This film is a monument to excess, but the investors were rewarded handsomely. Commercially successful, the movie fails on all other levels.
A story that is difficult to translate into a film without being episodic and a little bit direction-less. How many fireside scenes, meaningful pauses and plaintive longing gazes do we need to sit through to get the romantic undertows? Lots of subtlety in the script and visual symbolism inadequately matched by Robert Redford's neutral performance giving the impression of a huge American film-star doing it by numbers, conspicuously super-imposed onto an otherwise convincing depiction of colonial Kenyan culture in the early twentieth century. Director Sydney Pollack believed Redford gave the historic character he was portraying an unobtainable quality that couldn't be offered by any high-profile British actor at the time of filming (1984). Once the British acting fraternity recovered from the shock of being so unfairly patronized, they might, if given the chance, have cried out, "Haven't you heard of Pierce Brosnan?" Indeed, Brosnan's age in the early 1980's would have been much closer than Redford's to that of the historic character being portrayed. In fairness to Redford, he was apparently prepared to equip his character, an English gentleman, with a suitably Etonian accent. Pollack allegedly felt however than an English accent from Redford would distract the film's viewers. Hmmm. Yes, Mr Pollack. An Englishman with an American accent is so much less distracting and so much more believable. It's Meryl Streep who does the lion's share (no pun intended) of the heavy-lifting with able support from Michael Kitchen and others. Lots of beautiful photography and sweeping themes from veteran composer, John Barry. As a keen photographer once said to me however, "Why is good photography allowed to be an excuse for a bad movie?" I don't agree it's a bad movie but I do believe less is more and that the film needs a lot of tidying up with a tauter narrative. The truth is, I find it a curiously interesting albeit flawed film and wouldn't be surprised if I find myself enjoying it more upon repeat viewings.
Pretty amazing that this movie won an oscar for best movie. But that's probably got more to do with the actors than the movie itself. Which was, btw, overlong, a bit pointless, and dare I say it, downright boring at times.
Street and Redford (though both great actors) have no real chemistry and one can't understand Brandauer's role in this one. It just won't get interesting. It may have some good scenery shots, but the story lacks big time on a real goal. I'm sure Dinesen's books are great though...
Out of Africa' is a film that struggles to impress. It is loosely based on the memoirs of Danish aristocrat Karen Dinesen (Meryl Streep), whose failed social endeavors at home drove her to a platonic marriage to a Baron (Klaus Maria Brandauer) and to an eighteen-year exile in colonial Kenya. The wide skies of Africa enlarged Dinesen's horizons, allowing her to explore the limits of her endurance through business venturing, friendship, and ultimately romance with wildlife hunter Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford).
The components of cinematic success are all there: erotic triangles, colonial Africa, exotic natives, even war, illness and bereavement. Paradoxically, after the first twenty minutes something goes terribly wrong, causing this over-ambitious film to evaporate into plain meaninglessness. The source of this unfortunate debacle is to be found in the substandard screenplay, which tends to revolve endlessly around itself, while stubbornly refusing to lift the story and the characters off the ground. Fine recitals by Streep (featuring a superb Nordic accent), and Michael Kitchen (as Berkeley) are not dynamic enough to conceal the film's fatal contradictions: Dinesen is a feminist spirit whose self-confidence is dependent on the men in her life; colonized Kenya is a sanitized paradise where noble savages' know their place; and where white colonialists are well-meaning philanthropists with imperfections that have hardly any impact outside of their narrow bwana' circle.
In conclusion, do not allow yourself to be deceived by the film's Academy Award credentials. This is mediocre cinema -the kind which pleases the eye, but is all empty calories. 4.7 stars out of 10.
This was a film that when it came out for some unknown reason I never saw. Over the years it has passed me by many, many times either in people's conversations or midnight wanderings with the remote but always I let it go by. Maybe it was the fact that it won such acclaim and attention and was talked about so much that I thought I knew the film, that I didn't need to see it. There was always another film to see. Well obviously my 'mistake' was rectified as I wouldn't be writing this now. I came home to find my girlfriend watching the very beginning, proceeded to read the day's newspaper but had one eye on the screen. She had seen it a few times and later on tiring went to bed. I'm not sure why this time was different but I continued to watch. Thank god I did. This is a magnificent, intelligent, moving film that on this night of 6th August 2007 means so much more to me than had I seen it in 1985. Of course now I realize why I've been so averse although unconsciously of seeing it. Going through a bloody divorce then not of my own choosing I don't think could have handled as Meryl so brilliantly did the strength that her character had with love and all it's attachment. This is human film that really seeps into your soul and I'm full of admiration for Sidney Pollack's brilliance and for putting together a team of people both in front and behind the camera that have created such a gem. All the Actors were superb with Meryl setting the pace like a long distance runner wanting to cross the line with everyone winning! This is a film with a strong heart!
I somehow managed not to see this film for 30 years so I was pleased to catch it on TV over the holiday period, albeit its spectacular panoramas were not best served by a TV screen - even a large high definition one.
I loved it. I loved the Africa backdrop which looked totally authentic. I loved the acting - especially a mesmerising performance from Meryl Streep who I couldn't look away from. I loved the script with its surprisingly sharp and sophisticated brevity: not once did I feel a scene or a dialogue went on for too long; and often I was taken aback and then delighted by the audacious and sudden full stops in fact, I was shocked to discover afterwards how long this film runs for because it felt so economical. For me, the camera work was honest and natural and the editing as sharp and clean as the dialogue.
Now that I see it cost $31m to make, 30 years ago when a dollar was worth a buck, I'm not surprised. I could see it all on the screen and I didn't notice any corners being cut in location, scenery, props, costumes or casting. The only scenes which jarred slightly were the cockpit closeups during the flying sequence which were obviously shot in the studio. But I assume it wasn't possible to get insurance for two of Hollywood's A list to cavort around the skies in a rickety open-top flying contraption. Overall though, this film was beautiful to look at.
I thought that this was the finest performance of Streep's long and glorious career. And the best direction of Sydney Pollack's fine career. The film as a whole is in my all-time Top Five.
Not really an all-time epic favorite. Nice photography, but every cinematographer who goes to Africa does well. Nice, unobtrusive direction. Robert Redford was fairly low-key, not necessarily mailing it in, but really just okay. I did enjoy the performance of Klaus Maria Brandauer, who was sufficiently oily to be dis-likable, but played it honestly enough to avoid being hate-able. Meryl Streep, as always, put in a fantastic performance, limited only by the script and director. I thought that this was an okay to pretty good movie, but have to agree that a Best Picture Oscar is not really warranted. It was a pretty light crop of nominees that year, though, so I suppose that explains it.