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5.0 out of 5 stars Out of Africa - Film review
If you're a Sydney Pollack fan you'll sure enjoy this film. Out of Africa, besides the excellent performances of Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, will certainly get your attention with the astonishing landscapes of Africa.
The story is about the life of Karen Blixen, who gets married for convenience and moves to Africa where she starts running a plantation. Things...
Published on June 3 2004 by Marta Carvalho

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3.0 out of 5 stars An Epic with blemishes
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,...
Published on July 3 2003 by Marc Cabir Davis


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5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond this place there be dragons, 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.
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5.0 out of 5 stars An epic romance classic, March 2 2003
Out of Africa is simply a masterpiece of cinematic art. This film does an exceptional job of delving into each of the characters and creating an understanding of what it is that makes all lovers and humanity itself such a difficult and complex chain of events. Meryl Streep proves once again what an acting legend she is by playing Karen Blixen, a Danish "immigrant" to Eastern Africa and how she learned to fall in love with the land, the people, and of a British hunter named Denys, played by a very American Robert Redford. Their relationship is unique and genuinely romantic, certainly one of the great epic romances of all time. Their love is a play between what your heart needs and what your head tells you what you should do with your life. In the end, their love is not of this world, it is not ours. It is a lesson in learning that nothing is forever, nothing is owned by us, not even the love we create for ourselves and then discard. This earth, represented so well by Africa, owns everything we think we have, and ultimately, like Denys, we all go back to whence we come. Out of Africa is a gorgeously filmed movie, with some of the most spectacular scenery ever recorded on film. The flying over Africa scene is romance and adventure next to none. The film score by John Barry is certainly one of the best of all time, and it perfectly captures the romantic grandeur of Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, and their glorious attempt at forever possessing each other's heart, only to learn that their love is not to remain constant, just like the beauty of the African savannah is not to be consistent. A romantic, visual, musical, and historical masterpiece, Not to be missed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great, adult romance. Beautiful DVD., Feb. 19 2003
This movie puts Isak Dinesen's "Out of Africa" up on the screen, and for my money it is the finest filmed version of a book ever done. The reasons for this do not come from Sydney Pollack's vision of the book being "faithful" exactly (although it is pretty faithful). It is more that he perfectly captured the feel of Dinesen's Africa. The characters in the movie are all based on real people, primarily Isak Denisen (real name Karen Blixen), her husband Bror Blixen, and Denys Finch Hatton. Suffice to say that Meryl Streep, Klaus Maria Brandauer, and Robert Redford all give great performances. In real life both Hatton and Blixen were great white hunters who, despite sleeping with one another's wives and acquaintances, (including aviator Beryl Markham) somehow remained good friends. For me, despite great, intelligent acting from Streep and Brandauer, this is a Robert Redford film. Redford's intense, understated style was never put to better use (Pollack always seemed to know the best use for this actor) and it is a pleasure to watch the way he says so little, but you can see a rich, internal life happening all the time. Plus, it is a kind of kick to see Redford, a staunch conservationist and liberal, playing a great, white hunter in end-of-Empire Africa. Finally, if you own this film on VHS, it is worth going for the DVD. It is simply beautiful looking.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Life In Kenya, Jan. 8 2003
Sydney Pollack's 1985 film Out of Africa is a beautifully filmed epic of the true-life story of Karen Blixen-Finecke. Blixen moves from her native Denmark to Kenya to marry and live with the Baron Blixen-Finecke. At first she is wary and unhappy with her new home, but eventually, she comes to love the land and its people. Along the way she must deal with her unfaithful and she herself starts a relationship with a dashing Englishman, Denys Finch Hatton. The romantic relationships are just minor subplots to the film's overall theme of Blixen finding her own place in the world and one that would lead her to become a writer (the film is based on her own book of the same name). Meryl Streep is winning as Blixen and shows why she is such a great actress. She is a true chameleon as she adopts a completely credible Danish accent and tone. No one can mold their voice like Ms. Streep can. On the flipside, Robert Redford plays Hatton with an English accent that fades in and out. It's tough to believe him as an Englishmen because he has the quintessential All-American look. Klaus Maria Brandauer is excellent as the smarmy Baron. The movie is lushly filmed and the cinematography is in places, breathtaking. Mr. Pollack uses the grand African Plains to perfection and this helps as the film tends to drag in places. The movie swept the 1985 Academy Awards, winning seven Oscars including Best Director, Best Cinematography and Best Picture.
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5.0 out of 5 stars One Of The Best Romantic Movies Ever Made!, Aug. 5 2002
By 
Barron Laycock "Labradorman" (Temple, New Hampshire United States) - See all my reviews
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This is undoubtedly one of the finest movies made over the last twenty years or so. Both Meryl Streep and Robert Redford are absolutely terrific in playing star-crossed lovers who are also intellectual soul mates in what has to be one of the greatest and yet saddest of all movie love affairs. This is a dramatization culled from the memoirs written by Isak Dinesen about her fateful decision to leave her comfortable but boring life in Scandinavia behind in favor of a much more dangerous and adventurous try at a new life as a married woman in Africa. Blowing her inheritance trying to support her philandering new husband's ill-advised business ventures, she falls in love with the land, the people, and the times. Indeed, out of Africa comes the experience of a young lifetime.
In fact, the topography of Africa provides the perfect background and the most splendid of opportunities for her to live her life on her own terms, out of the long and suffocating shadow of family and social convention. And the journey taken by Karen Blixen is a long, joyous, and eventful one, a trip that literally takes her breath away with its rich, varied, and enriching experiences. Yet all this adventure has its cost in pain and suffering, and her growth into a woman of substance who eventually finds her way into a dreamy intellectual played so well by Redford also fates her to become a woman bereft of that that means most to her; her lover, her farm, and her place in Africa itself.
This is a lovely film, one that capitalizes by using the dramatic and primitive backdrop of wild Africa in painting a period piece that is unparalleled in its graphic portrayal of life on the very edges of civilization in an epochal time of Africa's evolution to modernity. The cinematography alone is worth the price of the DVD, for anyone who loves nature will recognize Redford's steady hand in influencing the way the fragile yet exquisite sub-Saharan environment is depicted. I have seen the movie a number of times, and each time come away with a renewed sense of how fragile and wondrous the ecology of this part of Africa is. This is a wonderful movie I can heartily recommend. Enjoy
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5.0 out of 5 stars My absolute favorite movie of all time !, June 18 2002
By 
"usamom" (Wichita Falls, TX USA) - See all my reviews
This story would touch your heart, even if it wasn't based on true life events. The breath taking scenery and beautiful music are rival to Dances With Wolves.
Meryl Streep gives another great performance in her role as Karen Blixen, a woman who just can't seem to get a break in life. Set in the early 1900's, she deservingly earns respect from the native and foreign citizens (including the men) - unheard of at that time.
Robert Redford is definitely the handsome leading man once again. Despite great resistence from Blixen, Denys finally wins her heart but refuses to "commit" the way she wants him to. This ultimately ends the romance but not the love affair.
Several years ago, I taped the "uncut, director's version" of Out of Africa. There are several important scenes I've been unable to find elsewhere, including the Collector's Edition DVD. They develop intricate relationships with several other main characters. If you ever see that version, you'll know what I mean.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Deserving of all seven Oscars!, May 11 2002
By 
Bert McCarthy "Mystic Road Warrior" (Santa Rosa, CA) - See all my reviews
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Several false starts over the years in attempting to put this challenging story on the screen finally led to Sydney Pollock's masterly production in 1985. Previously, screen-writers had great difficulty connecting the dots of this highly anecdotal and wide-ranging, subtle story.
If Pollock had done nothing else in his career, this great accomplishment alone would make him a towering figure in his field. The DVD features an extensive commentary wherein he provides us with a wealth of enriching material describing the full story of the production. This commentary alone is probably worth the price of the DVD. We learn of Pollack's collaboration with the great John Barry, resulting in what is undeniably one of the most lush and romantic soundtracks to date. We also learn of the difficulties of dealing with lions, hippos, water buffaloes -- and African microbes!
Pollack provides a fascinating and lengthy explanation of meeting the challenges of photography at high altitudes near the Equator, where the light is impossibly bright and therefore harsh. He speaks in detail about the wonderful sets and spectacular costumes.
He highlights the incredible courage and versatility of Meryl Streep (three "lion scenes" - no digital magic in 1985!) How is it possible that our greatest actress has only one Best Actress Oscar? Meryl provides commentary (as do John Barry and Karen Blixen's able biographer, Judith Thompson).
And, yes, Robert Redford's "American accent" is discussed, and it is hoped that others' silly quibbles about this entirely trivial point can be laid to rest. Redford is magnificent, as usual. The supporting cast is superlative as well.
As is the case with "The English Patient," which is the obvious comparison film, "Out of Africa" is populated with characters that one would love to have over for dinner: they are very "real", unfailingly charming and intelligent.
The film is shot on location in Kenya, and, if one can take one's eyes off Streep and Redford, the vistas are unparalleled.
I must insist that this film is truly one of the Great Ones.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoy the movie, but learn the history, Jan. 14 2002
"Out of Africa" has lots to admire; clearly director Sydney Pollack knows what he's doing, and the acting of Meryl Streep, as Karen Blixen, and Klaus Maria Brandauer, as her husband, is excellent. The African landscape is beautifully rendered in David Watkin's cinematography and complimented by John Barry's music. Kenya's colonial past is well evoked in this production. However, on the other hand: Robert Redford is nowhere near believable. Remember he is supposed to be playing Denys Finch Hatton, someone who was born and raised in England and educated at Eton and Oxford. Compared to Streep's efforts Redford seems to be just walking through this role. As it becomes clear that Finch Hatton and Blixen have different ideas about what course their relationship should take, some of the dialogue between their characters is very hard to take, falling just short of laughably ridiculous. Finally, it's hard for a thinking person not to see "Out of Africa" as an apology for European colonization of Africa. Like the way the romance and nostalgia of "Gone with the Wind" quickly whither when you stop to think that it is the harsh reality of slavery that makes possible the good life at Tara, so it is with Blixen's farm in Africa, at the foot of the Ngong Hills. Her comforts come at the price of dispossessed Kikuyu, who work as laborers on land they once owned. True, Blixen gave "her" Kikuyu some medicine, and she gave "her" Kikuyu children a school (i.e., a shack that would fit between the couches in her living room), which is probably more than other European settlers did. But is it right that she should refer to any people as "her" Africans? It's impossible to get around the fact that in colonial times the Europeans took the Africans' land, crowded them into designated areas, and exploited their labor. Enjoy the movie, but make an effort to learn the history.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Abusive to Karen Blixen, Jan. 9 2002
By A Customer
This movie's opening scenes of colonial East Africa are lovely, but over the years when I try to watch this film again I never get past the middle. I've finally decided that the Robert Redford part of the story is boring. Redford plays the same character in every film. His character is perfect, and he spends the movie explaining to his female counterpart what is wrong with her and how she can become a better person.
I'm surprised that no academic has analyzed this film as abusive to Karen Blixen. She (never Redford) is made to look ridiculous in many scenes. Her fear of lions was invented for the movie; the real Karen Blixen was unafraid of lions, as her letters show. Starting a school for the Africans on her farm came as a request from the Governor of Kenya, yet she is mocked for this in the film. She is belittled for missing her husband when he goes hunting, she is fabricated as getting lost and needing Finch Hatton's compass, she is criticized for making a scene about getting land for "her Africans" (a misinterpretation of the language of her time), and she is made to look as if Finch Hatton gave her the idea to begin writing--a lie.
It seems to me that the men who made this movie fictionalized a true story as a vehicle for their prejudices.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Abusive to Karen Blixen, Jan. 9 2002
By A Customer
This movie's opening scenes of colonial East Africa are lovely, but over the years when I try to watch this film again I never get past the middle. I've finally decided that the Robert Redford part of the story is boring. Redford plays the same character in every film. His character is perfect, and he spends the movie explaining to his female counterpart what is wrong with her and how she can become a better person.
I'm surprised that no academic has analyzed this film as abusive to Karen Blixen as a woman. Karen Blixen (never Redford) is made to look ridiculous in many scenes. Her fear of lions was invented for the movie; the real Karen Blixen was unafraid of lions, as her letters show. Starting a school for the Africans on her farm came as a request from the Governor of Kenya, yet she is mocked for this in the film. She is belittled for missing her husband when he goes hunting, she is fabricated as getting lost and needing Finch Hatton's compass, she is criticized for making a scene about getting land for "her Africans" (a misinterpretation of the language of her time), and she is made to look as if Finch Hatton gave her the idea to begin writing--an annoying lie.
It seems to me that the men who made this movie fictionalized a true story as a vehicle for their prejudices.
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