My current Top 5

My current Top 5


Number 50: Out of Africa (Best Picture Ranking)

Out of Africa is one of those big epics that the Academy loves to honor – breathtaking shots of exotic landscapes, a sweeping score, a doomed love story. But: these types of movies usually only get attention from the Oscars if they are done well. And Out of Africa certainly is. Lead by Meryl Streep and her Danish accent, Out of Africa tells the story of writer Karen Blixen – a story of a farm in Africa, an uncaring husband and a tragic love affair.

Oscar-winner Sidney Pollack brought all this to life with a lush and sometimes a little overproduced movie that obviously enjoys its own length and opulence. Out of Africa does never really uses its screen time to explore the characters since the story itself is rather simple and the characters go through an unsurprising and expected arc but instead the movie uses every opportunity for long shots of the African landscapes, for a slow growth of a new love – to sum it up, Out of Africa takes time to develop more quiet and little moments, to show a love affair embedded in the African environment. That way it becomes the kind of movie that can easily bore a lot of viewers while captivating the others.

Meryl Streep gives a beautiful performance as the central character, a woman who finds herself in Africa. Out of Africa thankfully doesn’t focus on her love life completely but takes just as much time to show her own inner growth, her fight for her farm and her way of life. Robert Redford gives an adequate performance and he is nice to look at but never truly achieves a level of greatness but the chemistry between the two actors works just right. Interestingly enough, even though Out of Africa is usually remembered as a love story, the whole movie never truly feels like a typical romance – the love between Karen and Denys appears more intellectual than physical, their long talks or the famous hair-washing scene only underline that the attraction between those two seems to be both deeper but also more superficial at the same time than most other movie-love stories. On the one hand, there seems to be a deep spiritual connection between these two souls but for some reason they never truly seem to belong together. It’s a love that appears ‘meant to be’ but fleeting at the same time. Because of this, Out of Africa’s approach to this clichéd plot is rather refreshing and prevents the whole concept from becoming too schmaltzy and from dominating the movie in any way. The love between Karen and Denys never feels like the main reason for the movie’s existence but Out of Africa always lets Karen’s other feelings and determinations shine, too.
In the supporting role of Karen’s husband, Klaus Maria Brandauer gives an intriguing portrayal of an unlikable character.

Out of Africa truly manages to capture the feeling of an exotic and unknown country and keeps a nice balance between the plot and the characters on the one side and the technical values on the other. It also doesn’t concern itself with too serious topics – themes like war, the colonies, the supposed superiority of the Europeans over the natives are never truly touched which works well in the context of the way the film is presented.

Overall, it’s a beautiful and engaging picture that tells a simple story in an opulent way.


Malcolm said...

I certainly love this film. I can actually watch it any time. And I never felt bored watching it.

Oh, that killer music score!

I actually thought that The Color Purple was better, but this movie simply grows on repeated viewings.

Anonymous said...

Beautiful movie with a GREAT score.

Louis Morgan said...

This one I was mostly bored by.

joe burns said...

I've seen some parts of this one, but very brief ones.

Did you like it better then A Passage To India?

Fritz said...

No, I think I prefer A Passage to India.

Anthony said...

Fritz, I have been a faithful reader of your blog and your postings on Goldderby for some time so I am very familiar with your love for big sprawling epics....I usually detest them and this one is no different for me, but I think it is one I appreciate a lot of aspects of...such as the performances of Streep and Brandauer and also the beautiful score and cintematography.