In 20th century colonial Kenya, a Danish baroness/plantation owner has a passionate but ultimately doomed love affair with a free-sprited big-game hunter.
Release Year: 1985
Rating: 7.0/10 (25,598 voted)
Stars: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer
Follows the life of Karen Blixen, who establishes a plantation in Africa. Her life is Complicated by a husband of convenience (Bror Blixen), a true love (Denys), troubles on the plantation, schooling of the natives, war, and catching VD from her husband.
Writers: Karen Blixen, Judith Thurman
Klaus Maria Brandauer
Based on a true story.
Release Date: 18 December 1985
Filming Locations: England, UK
Box Office Details
Opening Weekend: $3,637,290
(22 December 1985)
Did You Know?
While he was editing the picture, director Sydney Pollack used musical selections from John Barry to act as his temp track. When it came the time to actually score the film, Barry seemed like the perfect choice.
Karen Blixen's champagne glass is empty when she slaps a rude man at the New Year's Eve party. Denys takes her arm and pulls her immediately onto the dance floor, but her glass has champagne in it again while they dance.
But I want to move.
Hits all the right notes, at multiple levels.
This is one of those rare movies that has something for everybody and is
nearly perfect in many respects. Many of the negative comments about the
film here are one dimensional and fail to see the multiple levels on
the movie operates.
First, there's the political level: Colonial Africa before, during, and
after World War II populated by all of Europe (and America), and Karen
Blixen caught in the middle between Germany and England. Interestingly,
settlers are willing to die for their countries eventhough they have
idea why they are going to war, and communication between Kenya and Europe
lags by months, not weeks.
There's the sociological level: White Europeans attempting to civilize and
Westernize an essentially foreign land and people. I think the movie does
great job of intimating how the Kikuyus, the Somali, and Masai saw
settlers in their land – comical, enigmatic, and out of their element.
Instead of fading into the background, the movie would fail without the
simple wisdom of Farah who knows more than any of the white settlers in
land. ("This water must go to Mombasa". "God is great, Saboo").
Interestingly, Sikh Indians are brought to the English Gentlemen's club to
act as servants and when Karen dares to enter the men's only den, it's the
Sikh who is responsible for escorting her out; none of the English
"gentlemen" have the balls or nerve to do it. An interesting observation
the English White man's view of the world before World War
Historically, the film portrays real people with some fidelity since all
the characters, even Farah and Kumante, were based on actual people;
was even alive and consulted during the filming in 1982/3. The character
Felicity is based on Beryl Markham, a truly magnificent woman who wrote
"West with the Night" which might even portray colonial Africa better than
Isak Dineson did.
As a travel log, the movie works as well as any National Geographic since
see, (vicariously through Karen) as she watches a platoon of Masai
running through salt flats in full battle dress, as she learns about lions
in wild, and how a herd of Elephants looks and sounds from a biplane.
Narratively, "Out of Africa" is not just a "chic flic" as someone posted,
unless the poster thinks that all romances are essentially chic flics. I
generally can't stand romances, but this operates not just as a romance
between people (Karen and Blix, Karen and Dennis) but between people and
place. The passion they felt for each other was matched or exceeded by
their passion for Africa. When the movie was over, I too had fallen in
The movie can be watched simply for its Cinematography, editing, sound,
set design alone. What other movie integrates poetry by Coleridge and
Houseman, Mozart's Clarinet Concerto, and the writing of Isak Dineson so
easily that you barely notice it? Many scenes translate into still works
art: A bottle of wine and peaches on the hunting table, a Victrola
Mozart in the African bush, a rainbow over raging falls, lions surveying
land from the Ngong hills.
Such a great and beautiful movie. One that I will watch over and over
until an opportunity to see Victoria falls comes my way.
By the way. I agree that the weakest link in the movie is Robert Redford
Dennis Finch Hadden since his accent is non-existent, but then again I
thought that as an American in colonial England (as Hemingway was at this
same time), it plays much better.