Recently, I was lucky enough to see ‘Out of Africa’ for the second time. The first time I saw it was many years ago. I was slightly apprehensive about seeing it for a second time, mainly because I have invited my partner to go see it with me. I hate recommending movies to people and then you feel anxious wondering if they liked it or not. ‘Out of Africa’ takes on more anxiety because it goes for a whopping 161 minutes (a quick calculation tells me that we are looking at almost three hours of movie).
Anyhow, off we trekked to USQ for Friday Night Flicks. Friday Night at the Flicks is advertised as ‘Toowoomba’s very own arthouse film night!’ and I would like to take this opportunity to thank the organisers of this great event. Over the last few years, we have had the opportunity to see some great films. Yes, we could watch them on Netflix or a similar service, but there is something about coming together with a group of people who love movies that makes this event quite special. I am yet to stay for the drinks and chat afterwards (being the notorious introvert that I am), but I appreciate this service to the Toowoomba community. The organisers always try and pick movies that will both entertain and challenge. When looking up this event because I was hoping to find the names of the guys who created this occasion; I came across this snippet of trivia on their website about the movie – Meryl Streep wasn’t the first pick to play the lead role of Karen Blixen, the role was originally offered to Audrey Hepburn as the director didn’t think Streep was ‘sexy’ enough. If you’ve seen the movie, you will know that Meryl Streep embodied Karen Blixen (particularly the Danish accent).
Out of Africa is the story of Karen Blixen, the Danish writer who was later to publish under the name of Isak Dineson. Blixen shares her story of when she lived in British East Africa, now Kenya, where she ran a large coffee plantation. It is also the story of her love affair with big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton played by Robert Redford. But the real character of this epic story is Africa.
David Watkin’s romantic and graceful cinematography and John Barry’s lavish score indeed provides us with a feast for both the eyes and the ears. Sydney Pollack (director) made a beautiful film and the way he showcased Africa’s beauty is masterful. Even if you don’t enjoy the storyline, David Watkin’s photography is incredible – the landscapes, the shots of animal life. Finch Hatton’s biplane and the spectacular scenery will take your breath away. I am sure many who watched this movie fell in love with Kenya and were planning a trip to this majestic place.
There have been many criticisms of this movie since its release. Most criticisms were levelled at its length at almost three hours long and that it was boring and suffered from hostile pacing. Personally, I didn’t find the movie too long. This is a movie that is a visual masterpiece and I soaked up every image that was presented to me on the screen.
The direction of the movie was gentle and sensitive. There is a scene in the movie where Robert Redford can appear to be narcissistic, but with the careful handling of director Sydney Pollack, as an audience, we are sympathetic to him AND to Meryl Streep’s character who wants so much more from him.
Out of Africa is a movie with the audacity to be about complex, sweeping emotions and Sydney Pollack doesn’t shy away from using his stars and their star power to his advantage and without apology. This is a movie that owns it stars – Streep, Redford and Africa.