Out of Africa
Release year: 1985
Director: Sydney Pollack
Screenwriters: Kurt Luedtke, (based on the book by Judith Thurman and Errol Trzebinski)
Starring: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer, Michael Kitchen, Malick Bowens, Michael Cough, Suzanna Hamilton
Ratings: 7 Oscars: Best Picture, Best Director, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction, Best Sound, Best Original Score. 4 Oscar nominations: Best Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Supporting Actor (Klaus Maria Brandauer), Best Costume Design, Best Film Editing. 3 Golden Globes: Best Supporting Actor (Klaus Maria Brandauer), Best original Score, Best Picture – Drama. 3 Golden Globe Nominations: Best Director, Best Actress (Meryl Streep), Best Screenplay.
After marrying Baron Bror Blixen (Brandauer) out of convenience, Karen (Streep) moves with him to Africa to establish a plantation founded by her fortune. Here she meets the love of her life in Denys (Redford).
Based loosely on Karen Blixen’s autobiographical novel by the same name, Pollack’s (Tootsie, 1982) epic romance is a visual treat as well as one of the many movies that sees leading lady Streep (The Devil Wears Prada, 2006) shine in one of her many, many Oscar nominated performances. Her take on the famous Danish author Karen Blixen is marvelous. At first the distinctive accent is distracting but once you let the story grip you, her character becomes real, a stunning combination of vulnerability and strength. While Redford (Butch Cassidy and the Kid, 1969) is terrific as Denys, as sun-kissed and charming as necessary, and Brandbauer (Mephisto, 1981) excellent as her cheating husband, this movie very much belongs to Streep. Even though Pollack often pushes his cast in the background and let us marvel at the beautiful nature shot with stunning cinematography and accompanied by a great score, Streep is always present in every scene. This is Blixen’s Africa and this is Streep’s Blixen. The only downside is that the story isn’t quite capable of carrying the long running time.
Early in the film, Baroness Karen Blixen is introduced to her servants. Although the scene is inter-cut with close-ups and other inserts in the film, the first take was filmed as one long shot that required Streep to meet and exchange dialogue with several other characters. As soon as director Sydney Pollack yelled “Cut,” Streep, wearing a high-collared shirt and snug jacket, yelled “get this thing off of me!” and ripped open her jacket. A large beetle had crawled down the front of the jacket moments after the camera rolled, yet she continued filming the scene, Much of it remains in the final film.
Picture Copyright: UIP
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