Out of Africa is another nearly 3 hour epic romance with a beautiful backdrop. This time the focus is on Africa, but I don’t think it’s the African set female focused 1985 film that should’ve won Best Picture. That honor should’ve gone to The Color Purple, but the Academy made the safe choice. Both movies were nominated for 11 Oscars, but The Color Purple won nothing while Out of Africa won 7. Including Best Picture, Best Director Sydney Pollack, Adapted Screenplay, Art Direction, Cinematography, Original Score, and Sound. Africa is truly breathtaking and the John Barry score helps to romanticize it. It’s just the story that feels like a minor step back. Out of Africa centers around English colonialism in Africa, but it’s not handled the same as Gandhi.
The original book is a memoir by the Danish aristocratic Karen Blixen who spent most of her time in British East Africa (or modern day Kenya). She marries Swedish nobleman Baron Bror Blixen who takes part in big-game hunts and buys them a coffee farm. Karen falls in love with Africa and its people while providing schools, medicine, and work for the local villagers. Though she does keep wealthy friends like Felicity and Berkeley. As I expected, the pace is incredibly slow and the movie didn’t really get interesting for me until the second half. Out of Africa is a little like Doctor Zhivago in how it slowly develops a romance over time. Since Bror is unfaithful, Karen starts to fall for fellow big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton.
He saves her from a lioness and they bond over their mutual love of stories. Though they’re separated by class and views of marriage, nothing can keep them apart. Not even the First World War led by colonist Lord Delamere. Their most romantic scenes are when Denys shampoos Karen’s hair and they ride over Africa in his biplane. Meryl Streep is unsurprisingly committed to her Danish accent and strong-willed Oscar nominated performance. Although English in real life, Robert Redford strangely remains American, but is equally committed to the rugged hunter. Though it was Klaus Maria Brandauer who was nominated as the husband in the middle of their love affair. Out of Africa isn’t exactly timeless, but it does make effective use of its setting.