This is one of those DVDs that’s been sitting at my home for ages, yet I had never watched it. And of course, now I cannot understand why! Out of Africa is a movie released in 1985, based on the novel of the same name by Isak Dinesen (aka Karen Blxen), which recounts her story. Directed by Sydney Pollack, the movie stars Robert Redford and Meryl Streep, and won 7 Oscars.
At the beginning of the 20th century, Karen (Streep) is a young, wealthy woman from Denmark who enters into a marriage of convenience with Baron Bror Blixen (Klaus Maria Brandauer) – he gets the money, she gets the title. They move to Kenya where they plan on running a coffee farm. Karen meets Denys Finch Hatton, a free-spirited game hunter. Rapidly, Karen and Bror break up, due to its excessive extra-marital activities, and Karen and Denys start an affair.
Ok, so this is a short version of the story…. I did not read the book so I cannot really say whether the adaptation is accurate. I’ll focus on the choices of actors. Brandauer, who won an Oscar for his supporting role, is simply brilliant. And, to some extent, handsome, although not with the same charisma as Redford. His character is perfectly portrayed, and to an extent he, as opposed to Karen, meets his end of the bargain: je marries her out of convenience but never promised love:
Baron Bror Blixen: You're not going to fall in love are you?
Karen Blixen: Not with someone who's always leaving.
Later, when Karen has started her affair with Denys, the exchange between Redford and Brandenauer perfectly paints the two characters:
Baron Bror Blixen: You could have asked, Denys.
Denys: I did. She said yes.
Redford, on an other hand, is not just a moderately handsome man with nothing really extraordinary like Bror, he is a free spirit, that nothing can tie to a home. He loves Karen but still needs to feel free, as their argument about marriage highlights. His character can be summarized by what his friend says to Karen:
Berkeley Cole: He likes giving gifts... but not at Christmas.
As for Karen, well, she was obviously an extraordinary woman – of course, remember that the movie is adapted from a book written by her J… She obviously has more guts than Bror, who must probably feel inadequate, has a lot of dignity, and turns out to be a match for Denys, who is brave and fearless, and is quite impressed by her – together they form a fantastic team – the scene where they shoot one charging lion each (she first!) is simply incredible. She is a very strong woman who got through terrible times. Together with Redford, they show an incredible chemistry.
Her story is sometimes interrupted by her voice over, repeating over and over again “I had a farm in Africa” which, from the start, suggests to the viewer that whatever happened did not last…. But that’s all I’ll tell you!
Overall, a great moment, highly recommended.