This Universal 100th Anniversary Edition release of Out Of Africa arrives at blu ray with MPEG-4 AVC 1080p 1.85:1 encode. Universal's ground-up restoration and subsequent transfer represents a significant improvement over its previously released BD in 2010. Colours have been fine-tuned and primed to perfection. Skin tones are natural. Black levels are rich. Detail is reasonably refined and generally filmic. (4/5)
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track remains the same as the 2010 release. And it is still excellent. It provides some wonderfully rich and satisfying recreations of the African soundworld: from the quietest buzzing of insects to the thundering roar of a devastating fire. Dialogue is uniformly front and centre, quite clear. John Barry's soundtrack is also very enjoyable. (4.5/5)
In 1986, Out of Africa won 7 Academy Awards, including Best Picture and Director for Sidney Pollack, Best Cinematography for David Watkin. Best Original Score (John Barry), Best Sound, Best Art Direction and Best Screenplay.
COMPARISON BETWEEN 2010 AND 2012 RELEASE:
I bought the 2010 release because I could not resist the sale of less than $10. That 2010 release actually houses both the blu ray and DVD versions of this movie on ONE disc! How cheap can one be. The new 2012 release has one BD-50 blu ray disc plus a separate disc for DVD.
As noted above, the video of the latest release is vastly superior to the 2010 one, but does it worth to double dip? Read on...
UNIVERSAL REPLACEMENT PROGRAM:
For those of you who has bought the lousy 2010 blu ray disc, I have good news for you. Universal has started a Replacement Program, applicable for consumers with U.S. and Canadian mailing addresses only.
You have to email them first to request a replacement: [...]
Universal's reply was actually quite prompt and will instruct you the steps to get your free replacement. You have to mail the disc only (without packaging) to the address stated in the email at your own expense, with all the information requested, plus a copy of the email. Hopefully, you will receive the Universal 100th Anniversary Edition version as a replacement. Good luck.
If you have not bought the 2010 blu ray version, this latest release is highly recommended. As usual, Amazon.ca has put in the reviews for the standard DVD version in the blu ray section. Please be careful and check the date of the review before wasting valuable time reading outdated materials.
I hope the review and the above tip are helpful to you.
on April 30, 2010
Film: ***** | Blu-Ray: ** What a travesty! "Out Of Africa" is such a beautiful film, in so many ways. It has been eagerly awaited by fans of the film, who have looked forward to enjoying it in high definition. Now, unfortunately, it has arrived on one of the detested Universal Studios "flipper" discs (DVD on one side, Blu-Ray on the other, no label art). The results could not be more disappointing.
The image is cleaner, sharper and "better" than the past DVD versions. But that is due entirely to the vastly better bandwidth, 1080p resolution and improved codecs used for Blu-Ray. There is unfortunately excessive edge sharpening, and overwhelming contrast boost. In fact, the over intense contrast levels accentuate the excessive sharpening, calling attention to ringing and halo effects. Surface detail and skin tones frequently have a smeared and over DNRed quality.
The only other major film that has proved as disappointing on Blu-Ray, and for the same reasons (too much sharpening, too much DNR, too much contrast boost), is the much vilified release of "Gladiator". This has led to a rumored re-release and remasterring of "Gladiator". We can only hope that Universal will wake up and do the same with "Out Of Africa".
Universal ought to be ashamed of themselves for not taking more care with the Blu-Ray release of such a major catalog title. It really needed to be remastered for Blu-Ray. But if they were going to use the old transfer then someone should have at least done some adjustments. As it is, it looks like they just pulled the file off the shelf and shoved it out the door, and in a plain case with cheesy looking artwork, no booklet, etc. Shame on you Universal!
on April 25, 2004
He often tries to distill his movies' themes into a single word, Sydney Pollack explains on "Out of Africa"'s DVD. Here, that word is "Possession:" The possessiveness of the colonialists trying to make Africa theirs; to rule her with their law, settle on the local tribes' land, dress their African servants in European outfits (complete with a house boy's white gloves), import prized belongings like crystal to maintain the comforts of European civilization, and teach African children to read, to remove their "ignorance." And the possessiveness of human relationships; the claim of exclusivity arising from a wedding license, the encroachment on personal freedom resulting if such a claim is raised by even one partner - regardless whether based on a legal document - and the implications of desire, jealousy, want and need.
As such, the movie's story of Danish writer Karen Blixen's (Isak Dinesen's) experience in Kenya is inextricably intertwined with her love for free-spirited hunter/adventurer Denys Finch Hatton. Just as she spends years trying to wrangle coffee beans from ground patently unfit for their plantation and create a dam where water that, her servants tell her, "lives in Mombassa" needs to flow freely, only to see her efforts fail at last, so also her romance with Finch Hatton blossoms only as long as she is still (pro forma) married, and thus cannot fully claim him. As soon as the basis of their relationship changes, Finch Hatton withdraws - and is killed in a plane crash shortly thereafter, his death thus cementing a development already underway with terrible finality. In her eulogy Karen asks God to take back his soul with its freedom intact: "He was not ours - he was not mine." Yet, both Kenya and Finch Hatton leave such a mark on her that, forced to return to Denmark, she literally writes them back into her life; again becoming the "mental traveler" she had been before first setting foot on African soil, using her exceptional storytelling powers to resurrect the world and the man she lost, and be united with them in spirit where a more tenable union is no longer possible.
While "Out of Africa" is an adaptation of Blixen's like-named ode to Kenya, several of her other works also informed the screenplay; as did Judith Thurman's Blixen biography. And it's this combination which in screenwriter Carl Luedtke' and director Sydney Pollack's hands turns into gold where prior attempts have failed; because Blixen's book is primarily, as Pollack explains, "a pastorale, a beautifully formed memoir [relying] on her prose style, her sense of poetry and her ability to discover large truths in very small ... details" but lacking "much narrative drive" and thus, "difficult to translate to film." In addition, Blixen was largely silent about her relationship with Finch Hatton, which however was an essential element of the story, thus dooming any attempt to produce a movie without extensive prior research into this area.
Meryl Streep was not Sydney Pollack's first choice for the role of Karen, for which luminaries including Greta Garbo and Audrey Hepburn had previously been considered. Looking back in the DVD's documentary, Streep and Pollack recount how his change of mind came about (and ladies, I just know her version will make you laugh out loud). But while unfortunately neither her Oscar- nor her Golden-Globe-nomination turned into one of the movie's multiple awards (on Oscar night alone, Best Movie, Best Director and Best Cinematography, Art Direction, Music and Sound), she was indeed the perfect choice. Few contemporary actresses have her range of talent and sensitivity; and listening to tapes of Blixen reading her own works allowed her not only to develop a Danish accent but to become the story's narrative voice in the completest sense, from Blixen's persona to her perceptions and penmanship.
Much has been made of the fact that as Finch Hatton no British actor was cast but Robert Redford, with whom Pollack had previously collaborated in five successful movies, including the mid-1970s' "The Way We Were" and "Three Days of the Condor." But as Pollack points out, Finch Hatton, although a real enough person in Karen Blixen's life, in the movie's context stands for the universal type of the charming, ever-unpossessable, mysterious male; and there simply is no living actor whose image matches that type as closely as Redford's. Indeed, in this respect his character in "Out of Africa" epitomizes his "Redfordness" more intensely than *any* of his other roles. Moreover, all references to Finch Hatton's nationality are deleted here; so this isn't Robert Redford trying to portray a member of the English upper class, this is Redford portraying Redford (or at least, his public image) - and therefore, it is only proper that he didn't adopt a British accent, either.
Praise for this movie wouldn't be complete without mentioning the splendid, Golden-Globe-winning performance of Klaus-Maria Brandauer, one of today's best German-speaking actors, in the role of Karen's philandering husband Bror. (And if you think he's duplicitous here, rent such gems as "Mephisto" and "Hanussen" - or, for that matter, "James Bond: Never Say Never Again" - and you'll see what creepy and demonic really is when it's grown up). And of course, "Out of Africa" wouldn't be what it is without its superb African cast members; particularly Malick Bowens as Karen's faithful major domus Farah and Joseph Thiaka in his only known screen appearance as Kamante, Karen's indomitable cook. Several fine British actors complete the cast, providing enough British colonial feel even for those quibbling with Redford's casting; to name but a few, Michael Kitchen as Finch Hatton's friend Berkeley Cole, Michael Gough as Lord "Dee" Delamere and Suzanna Hamilton as Felicity (whose character is based on Blixen's friend and rival for Finch Hatton's attentions, Beryl Markham).
In all, "Out of Africa" is a grand, lavishly produced tribute to Africa, nature, freedom, adventure and love: Karen Blixen's "Song of Africa" brought to the big screen - and one of the profoundest love stories ever written by life itself.
on October 5, 2015
Another of Meryl Streep's brilliant performances from early in her career. The film is epic in scope and the production values are very high. If you don't want to see Africa after watching this movie, it's not the film for you. Here is a love story that features 4 leads, rather than just two. While Robert Redford is billed ABOVE Streep in the opening credits, and while their relationship is a fascinating one to watch slowly unfold over the span of the movie, it is Klaus Maria Brandaur who often mesmerizes with his charisma as the philandering, yet likeable husband. As well, the character of Streep's manservant played by African actor, Malick Bowens (sp?) is especially poignant. The screenplay is full of memorable dialogue, including an exchange between Redford and Brandaur, wherein Brandaur makes the comment to Redford (after Redford is known to have been intimate with Brandaur's wife): "You might have asked, Denis," to which Denis (Redford) replies, "I did. She said yes." A beautiful film.
on April 4, 2004
This is a movie like "The English Patient" that successfully mingles sweeping vistas and larger-than-life events with the small and human things that we can relate to personally. If we find ourselves in a sympathetic vibration with a character in a story, we can be thrilled by feeling closer to the bigger events which might not otherwise rock our personal worlds. These epic events also give a story a yardstick, something by which to measure the mettle of the characters.
Everyone knows something of love, of the joys and difficulties of marriage and the discovery--good and bad--of another person with whom we are intimately involved. This is our entry into the world of this movie. But how many of us have had the chance to, or have succeeded in, living life on our own terms and without compromise as Karen Blixen does? That she is a woman at the turn of the century is only icing on a cake of universal appeal.
This story (I will not detail the plot which others have already eloquently done) lets us watch an extraordinary person being placed in a fantastic, sometimes awkward but ultimately rewarding series of events and trials, and we are able to watch her rise to these occasions and meet life with the bit between her teeth. The backdrop is an entire continent, a setting so sweeping and vast that we can observe whole food chains or witness entire weather systems plying their trade. Karen Blixen is a character that appeals to something in all of us, and she does us proud as a representative of the human race in the continent's dramas.
I have always found Robert Redford thoughtful and engaging, and he does an excellent job here playing maybe the one person who truly understands our heroine and can meet her on her own terms and not be intimidated by her. But the real performance is Karen Blixen herself, played with such perfection, with such a wizard's breath of true life by Meryl Streep. I have never seen an actress more completely inhabit a character than Streep does here, and her virtuosity is breathtaking to watch.
I finish this movie each time feeling a bit worn out. After the roller coaster of exultation and abject loss, of intense love and apopleptic rage, of a woman young and naive grown old and frail, I am able to sleep soundly feeling I have not failed to glimpse ALL of life's secrets.
on July 3, 2003
This is indeed a beautiful movie. I saw it for the first time last night and its comparable to 'The English Patient' in more ways than one. Undeniably, it is Meryl Streep who holds the film together, as the supporting cast does her no favors. The direction is superb and the background score is very captivating. Universals' DVD presentation of the film is commendable, complete with an hour long documentary called 'The Song of Africa' which documents the crews' travails in the dark continent and also gives one some insights on how the film made it from page to screen.
However, Robert Redford ruins most of the film with his dull uninspired take as a British expatriate living and trekking in South Africa. I have never particularly liked any of this mans' performances, and his role here only serves to reiterate that he is one of the most overrated American actors of all time. I can even imagine Tim Curry or Danny DeVito doing a better job here than he does. His character is supposed to be British. Why on earth does he then sound as if he just stepped off a trailer in Mobile, Alabama? Did Mr. Redford do no research on this part? This is truly unpardonable and one of the reasons why I have to ultimately give this film only three stars. And they all belong to Meryl.
on June 9, 2003
This review refers to the Universal Widescreen "Collector's Edition" DVD of "Out Of Africa".....
"Out Of Africa" not only takes my breath away, but for 2 hours and 40 minutes I am transported to another time and place. A beautiful story in a wonderous setting will have you mesmerized as well. No matter how many times I view this film, I never tire of the gorgeous cinematography,the lulling music, the compelling story and of course the superb acting all brought together by the wonderful direction of Sydney Pollack.
Based on a true story, it depicts the life of Karen Blixen(who wrote under the name of Isak Dinesen) She marries a philandering Baron, and gains a title but discovers he has squandered her money on a coffee plantation in Kenya. Left to run it on her own, she befriends the local residents "The Kikuyu", offers them education and medical help, survives on her own strong willed nature and falls in love with the country, the people and local hunter Denis Finch Hatton.
The story is told in narrative by Karen, as she is now an old woman, thinking back to this time of love, passion, adventure and loss. Meryl Streep, Robert Redford and Klaus Maria Brandauer are masters of their craft as they bring these characters to life. The film was honored with several academy awards including Best Picture(1985),a well deserved Best Director for Pollack, Best Screenplay by Kurt Luedtke, Orginal Score for the genuis of John Barry, and one for the gorgeous Cinematography among others. I loved the music so much, which includes many works by Mozart, I just ordered the soundtrack!
The DVD transfer by Universal is outstanding. All the colors and sounds of Africa, seem to come alive right there in your living room. The growl of a lion, the texture of the landscape, the music all magnificent. The picture is presented in anamorphic widescreen(1.85:1), and the dolby digital 4.1 surround sound is perfect!. The extras include commentary with Sydney
Pollack production notes, cast bios,captioning, and a not to be missed documentary "Song of Africa" where you will find interviews with Pollack, Streep, and John Barry discussing the film and the music. This a great DVD buy at a great price.
Enjoy this very romantic film over and over again.....Laurie
on May 26, 2003
This Sydney Pollack film is a work of sumptuous beauty, the colors of the vast land that is Africa a backdrop to an equally gorgeous romance that itself is tied to a continent. This is Karen Blixen's true story of her time in Kenya and her romance with a mecurial hunter who lives with Africa, rather than in it. Karen would leave her spirit and her soul on the wide open plains of this beautiful land, which is the real star of this lush and most romantic of films. Robert Redford and Meryl Streep are both marvelous in this elegant banquet of love and beauty.
Karen embarks on a journey to Africa after a marriage of convenience to an old friend, which will turn sour shortly after their arrival to their coffee plantation, payed for with her money. His unfaithfulness will bring about an illness that will force her to return home for treatment, or go insane. She has met Dennis already, however, and fallen in love with a land and its people, and knows she must come back.
The romance of Karen and the enigmatic Dennis is languid, like the plains, and their differences vast, like the orange evening skyline. She starts a school to teach the tribal children english and feels ties to her coffee farm, but he has been in Africa a long time, and knows all those there are just passing through. He roams the plains and knows no ownership, at least not the kind Karen needs.
A flight over Kenya set to John Barry's beautiful Oscar winning score is one of those magical moments in film never to be forgotten. Karen, who would later write of these things under the name, Isak Dinesen, would describe it as "A glimpse of the World from God's eye." This majestic offering has a breathtaking scope only a handful of films can compare to. It is a visual feast for the eyes, and the answer for the hearts of all those wondering where romance has gone.
on April 4, 2003
Can a prudish countess find passion and heartache amidst the wild safaris of Africa? Meryl Streep and Robert Redford illustrate in "Out of Africa" a sweeping love story set against the backdrop of colonialist turmoil and civil unrest. This is one of those big, BIG character driven melodramas that, for some inexplicable reason, Hollywood has stopped producing. Based on a true story - "Out of Africa" follows the exploits of Karen Blixen (Streep), a headstrong woman who is determined to find adventure and meaning in her life. She allows herself to be swept under by the passion of a notorious womanizer, Baron Finecke (Klaus Maria Brandauer). However, once in Africa, and infected with syphilis by her philandering husband, Karen is left to fend for herself against the violent backdrop of tribal unrest and British colonization. Enter Denys Finch Hadden (Redford), a game hunter with a penchant and a passion for all the things that Karen has dreamed of. The two begin a passionate affair that culminates in tragedy and despair. This is a film of surreal and genuinely haunting beauty coupled with a story that will surely enthrall.
Universal Pictures has given us an adequate print of the movie, considerably cleaned up and remastered for DVD. However, there are several occasions where pixelization, edge enhancement and aliasing problems genuinely distract. Colors can seem a bit muddy at times. The cinematography is breathtaking and quite often presented with exceptional clarity and depth. However, there are cases where a soft haze seems to intrude. Black levels are generally solid though here too, occasionally there is an excessive amount of film grain noticed. The soundtrack is 2.0 surround and well represented for its age. Extras include a wonderful "making-of" and some snippets and interviews and a trailer.
on March 25, 2003
"Out of Africa" stands out as one of the most spectacular movies ever made. At the 1985 Academy Awards this movie won seven Oscars including Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Picture. It deserved all seven!
It is filled with romance, scenery, real-life struggles and the inevitability of fate. It is a journey into Africa and into love. The escape is in the hand of fate. This movie presents Africa as a paradise. The natural environment is harsh, yet unspoiled in this movie.
This is based on the true story of Danish writer Isak Dinesen/Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep) who left Denmark to marry German Klaus Maria Brandauer/Baron Bror Blixen (Klaus Maria Brandauer) and start a dairy in Kenya.
Some women do enjoy the security of a man looking after them, however Karen is different. She seems to desire companionship and offers her fortune in exchange for marriage. Her husband changes his mind about the dairy and instead they use her money on a risky venture to grow coffee. This is not a marriage based on an intense romance, in fact, Karen is marrying her lover's brother.
Soon after they arrive in Africa, it becomes apparent this is not a satisfying marriage for Karen. Not only is her husband unfaithful to her, he gives her syphilis. Disease is not the only threat, she also has to fight floods and fire. There are lions which apparently try to attack Karen and Denys although I thought that was pretty unlikely in the situation.
I didn't like the "hunter" aspects or when the two lions are killed, but if you watch at the end, I think even the lions forgive the hunter. When I've seen lions during the day they were normally napping in the shade. Apparently they had trouble getting the lions to act aggressive and there is information on the DVD explaining these details.
Karen finds acceptance in big game hunter Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford) who loves her ability to tell stories. He starts the stories and she completes them. I think he is impressed by her confidence and creativity. He sees who she really is. Her husband is obviously blind to this beautiful goddess he has taken to Africa.
She in turn is delighted by this interest and slowly allows him into her world. While Denys and Karen are a perfect match and as close to soul mates as possible, Denys is unsure of commitment and explains how a piece of paper won't make him love her more. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford have chemistry, chemistry and more chemistry in this movie! They mostly share a few kisses, yet their relationship is on such a deep level, I think it could survive if they just told each other stories.
What Karen seems to truly desire is a man who will sacrifice to be with her. She wants to be of value. Denys tells Karen she has confused "want" and "need." This is an excellent portrayal of the gender differences. Man wants to be free to come and go and woman wants security, love and commitment. She wants to be treated with respect.
Denys "wants" Karen and Karen seems to "need" Denys. The question is not whether he will realize this in time before he loses her, but whether or not fate will turn their lives into a tragedy or allow them to form a true relationship. As Karen says:
"When the gods want to punish you, they answer your prayers."
Karen seems the surrender to her fate and is able to experience a brief moment of ecstasy in her life even though she is wounded from the experience.
When you view this movie, there are various elements which hint at the ending, yet I didn't recognize them until viewing this the second time. This is a movie I watch every few years because I too once lived on a farm in Africa. It was not quite this romantic because I was still a child. This movie makes me terribly homesick because once we left Africa, we never went back. Africa seems a moment in time, maybe everyone should live there once. When I watch this movie I need a big box of tissues!
The best moment in the movie is when Farah asks Karen to build a very big fire so he will know where to find her. It is a moment so beautiful and poetic, I've not seen anything like it in any other movie. I appreciated this movie more now that I'm in my 30s and married than before when I was single and had just returned from Africa myself. This movie is contemplative and deals with complex issues.
Spectacular Scenery and Emotionally Satisfying.