‘Out of Africa’ is typical Oscar winning fare. It is a true romantic period epic with two major actors in the lead roles.
Based on the memoirs of Karen Blixen, a Danish woman living in Kenya in a loveless marriage, ‘Out of Africa’ stars Meryl Streep as Blixen with Robert Redford as her love interest with Klaus Maria Brandauer as her husband. It is a film that ought to be brilliant. Streep is one of my favourite actresses of all time and her ability to play any character always impresses me, and Robert Redford is also someone I would describe as consistently solid. The cinematography is stunning and the music is beautiful. But something does not quite elevate this film to lofty heights.
The story is fairly standard and not overly complex, which is fine, but it results in the film dragging for what seems like ever. Compared to films like ‘Gone with the Wind’ or ‘The English Patient’, which are also lengthy romantic epics, there is very little to really get involved in and nothing out of the ordinary to really recommend the narrative. It just plods along through three hours of Streep and Redford spending time together and time apart and them time together again, without ever really going anywhere.
Meryl Streep’s character is very Danish. She has the strongest Danish accent imaginable, which is fine. However, Redford is supposed to be British, but sounds as American as ever. I can’t quite understand why they did not select a British actor, or at least expect Redford to attempt the accent. It makes the film slightly less credible.
As mentioned before, the cinematography is extraordinary, and this is by far the best thing about the film. The sweeping African scenery lends itself to this and there are a couple of wonderful pieces in the film. The wonderful shots with the lion and the scene where they travel across the savannah in a plane, are the highlights of the film for me.
The addition of the Mozart based score is another plus, and the main score that runs throughout the film is beautiful.
I feel that ‘Out of Africa’ is a technical triumph. The filming of this epic is stunning, but it is all style and very little substance. It could have been better if they had focused on maybe one aspect of her life and culled the length by a good hour. It’s a pretty enough watch but the lack of content prevents this from being any higher up the list.