Saturday, June 30, 2012

Out of Africa (1985).

Out of Africa (1985). The story based on the autobiographical book Out of Africa written by Isak Dinesen (the pseudonym of the author Karen Blixen), which was published in 1937, Dinesen's book Shadows on the Grass. This film received 28 film awards, including seven Academy Awards. The book is from the 1914 to 1931, the story is about the European settlers and the native people of Kenya. The setting spans from Mombasa up to Nairobi and from Mount Kenya to Kilimanjaro.

Directed by Sydney Pollack. Cast: Meryl Streep as the Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke; Robert Redford as Denys Finch Hatton; and Klaus Maria Brandauer(as Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke).

The film opens as an older Karen Blixen is remembering back to a hunting expedition in Denmark, when she lived in Africa. Denys Finch Hatton, a big-game hunter whom she met when she first arrived in Africa. She was looking forward to helping her new husband Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke, start a dairy farm. Things do not go as she planned, Baron used her money to buy a coffee plantation. She struggles to maintain a coffee farm on her own, through all her struggles and many disasters, she wants to improve relations with the natives. Karen does fall in love with the the Baron over time and is heartbroken when she learns of his extramarital affairs. Karen contracts syphilis from her husband, which at the time was a very dangerous disease. She returned to Denmark for a cure using experimental medicine Salvarsan. This was before the discovery of penicillin. After she recovers she returns to Africa, a relationship between her and Denys begins to develop. She soon realizes that Denys can not settle down. She decides to open a school to teach reading, writing, and arithmetic, and also some European customs to the natives.

What a very emotional movie. With the breathtaking cinematography and the beautiful musical score, makes the movie worth viewing, especially, when Denys Finch Hatton, gives Karen Blixen her first airplane ride.


Audrey Hepburn was originally offered the role of Karen.

The film was shot on location in Africa, but local laws prohibited the use of wild animals in film. Trained lions were imported from California.

The story was originally planned as a project for Greta Garbo. At various times, Orson Welles, David Lean and Nicolas Roeg had tried to make a film about Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen).

Meryl Streep developed her accent by listening to actual recordings of Isak Dinesen (Karen Blixen) reading her works.

The pilot in the scene where the flamingos take flight was Sir Henry Dalrymple-White, a British Baronet and former WW2 pilot who moved in Kenya in the 1940s. He flew until he was 80.

During filming In one scene, Karen Blixen, travels across dangerous terrain to bring supply wagons to her husband's regiment. During the night, a lion attacks one of the oxen and Karen tries to fight it off with a whip. Streep was assured that the lion would be tethered by one of its back legs so he couldn't get too close. When the scene was shot, the lion had no restraint. The lion got closer than Streep anticipated; the fear on her face is real.

Isak Dinesen and Karen Blixen, lived in East Africa for twenty years making a living on their coffee plantation. Out of Africa, is a memoir of her life on the plantation and the people. The way Blixen writes you become swept up in the words and imagery. It is obvilious that Blixen loved Africa.


  1. Isak Dineson was the subject of at least one major biography not too long before "Out of Africa" was made and I happened to read it. Then I read her short stories and "Out of Africa" and other works. A fascinating woman who lived an enviable life. I think Truman Capote wrote about meeting her in one of his later books. "Out of Africa," the film, is quite the sweeping romance and Meryl Streep certainly seemed to capture the woman I imagined Dineson/Blixen might be. I do think, though, that Robert was too far past his prime and too American for his role.

  2. We absolutely LOVE this film. We've seen it dozens of times and am glad to see it's made ur list.

    Nice Review

  3. I have always wanted to read all biographies written on Karen Blixen, what an amazing life she must have lead. Meryl Streep, in my book is one of the best actresses of our time and certainly seemed to capture whom ever she played.

    Liam and Pearl, I also love this film.. I may add it to my ever growing DVD collection.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.