Out of Africa (1985)

7.0 Overall Score
Story: 6/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Good cast, great scenery

Dull story

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Out of Africa

Studio:  Mirage Enterprises

Genre(s):  Drama

Release Date(s):  December 18, 1985

MPAA Rating:  PG


I blessed the rains down in Africa!

A marriage of convenience between Karen Dinesen (Meryl Streep) and Baron Bror Blixen (Klaus Maria Brandauer) to save their financial fortunes leads to adventure when they travel to Africa.  Attempting to raise coffee in an untested climate, Karen finds herself in a world she’s never experienced and fighting for her rights as an independent woman in the wilderness.  There she discovers friendship and real love with a big-game hunter named Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford) who sees the land for what it is and desires to see it before it is transformed by the changing environment.  Life in Africa is hard and falling in love with Hatton and the land is something that Karen never expected.


I love shooting nature with my gun

Directed by Sydney Pollack, Out of Africa loosely adapts the 1937 autobiographical book of the same title by Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke (originally published under the pen name of Isak Dinesen).  The story had been in development hell for years with people like Orson Welles and David Lean wanting to take it on.  The reception from critics was somewhat mixed but the film won Academy Awards for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Art Direction, Best Cinematography, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Original Score, and Best Sound with nominations for Best Actress (Streep), Supporting Actor (Brandauer), Costume Design, and Film Editing.

Out of Africa is widely considered one of the worst Best Pictures.  I find a lot of the Academy Award winners of the ’80s either bad choices or the best of weak years.  Out of Africa has a few moments, but at two and a half hours, you are really rooting for Streep to finally get out just to end the movie.


Now if you could give me a pedicure

The story takes aspects of Blixen’s story and puts them into a narrative.  The story meanders along with the characters struggling with the environment and their emotions but at a snail’s pace.  The characters generally are emotionally repressed and it takes so much to rouse them into the occasional “blow-up” and even the blow-ups are quite weak.  An exciting trek across the harsh lands by Blixen provides one of the more exciting moments of the story, but even it occurs relatively early in the movie.  I believe the love story between Streep and Redford, but it feels like the whole story could have been shorn up to make it more real.

I really can’t fault the acting.  Streep like always is stellar and does the best she can with the source material.  Redford is his usual dashing self and a charmer, but his thunder is stolen by the much more subdued role by Klaus Maria Brandauer as Streep’s husband of convenience who can’t quite decide how he wants to be in her life.


Who’s a good kitty?

The setting of the movie is possibly the only thing that saves Out of Africa.  The lush and empty plains do look appealing and you do want to travel there.  Despite the grand nature of the film, it sometimes feels that it could be even bigger and better.  I will say that the lion scenes really do have some tension and are well shot…part of the only exciting moments in the film.

Out of Africa is a very forgettable Best Picture.  The movie does have some beauty to it from the setting, but the love story is tired and slow.  I see a lot of similarities between The English Patient and Out of Africa in themes and story though I do favor The English Patient…but both have a long, deep somewhat forbidden romances that teeters on tedious.  The style of the film feels like the epic that had been largely forgotten in the ’80s, but now the epic is back and Out of Africa just doesn’t hold up.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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