Out of Africa (1985)

Out of Africa was a movie I would have probably avoided my entire life had it not been a Best Picture winner in 1985. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford star in this compelling drama about life in Africa before the First World War.

Karen Blixen (Streep) is a Danish girl who finds herself getting married and uprooting her life to build a farm in Nairobi, East Africa. Her husband is a liar and a cheater, so it was no surprise that this marriage dissolved quicker than you could print a train ticket out of the country.

One guy catches her attention, and that is Denys Finch Hatton (Redford), who is a hunter and has no plans to ever settle down in life. These two will end up together because opposites attract, and the dating options are limited in this part of the world for two white folks from Europe.

A laundry list of events happens to alter Karen’s life, some for the best and some absolutely gut-wrenching. She loses her farm and finds out she’ll never have kids. Meanwhile, her husband is never around, so his inconveniences are not a problem. She bonds with her plantation keepers and does everything she can to protect, educate, and care for them. Even when she loses everything, she puts their wants and desires before hers. It was admirable, but not enough for me to actually like her character.

Out of Africa is one of those long drawn out love affairs that end on a sad note. You don’t see it coming, but when it happens, you end up saying, ah, I knew it. I didn’t find the movie that entertaining or engaging. The highlight for me was when Denys purchases an airplane and takes Karen up to see the land. It is a pretty awesome sequence that was filmed with such beauty and elegance.

My wife enjoyed the costumes and the detail that went into the production design. I enjoyed the scenes where Redford’s character was a part of the story and lost a lot of interest when he was gone on the hunt.

This film is based on a book, so I’d say track it down if that interests you. Out of Africa still has critics divided to this day, some 30+ years later. I’ve read that it is considered one of the worse Best Picture winners of all-time, and then I’ve read how amazing it was. I’m on the lower side of the divide and wouldn’t spend three hours watching it again. 4/10


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