In the 1910s, Karen (Meryl Streep) marries a Danish nobleman (Klaus Maria Brandauer) and they move to British East Africa to start a farm; she also befriends a handsome big-game hunter (Robert Redford)… Certainly not one of the year’s best movies, but it’s easy to see why it picked up so many Oscars – a beautiful epic with gorgeous views of Africa that are made all the more stunning thanks to John Barry’s music. The story of how the woman who became an influential writer matured in a different culture is romantic, sometimes dramatic, but moves very slowly. Still, worth a look if you have the patience; Streep and Redford (as an Englishman without the accent!) make an irresistible couple.
1985-U.S. 161 min. Color. Produced and directed by Sydney Pollack. Screenplay: Kurt Luedtke. Books: Karen Blixen, Judith Thurman (“Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Story Teller”), Errol Trzebinski (“Silence Will Speak”). Cinematography: David Watkin. Music: John Barry. Cast: Meryl Streep (Karen Blixen), Robert Redford (Denys Finch Hatton), Klaus Maria Brandauer (Bror Blixen), Michael Kitchen, Malick Bowens, Joseph Thiaka… Michael Gough.
Trivia: Audrey Hepburn was allegedly considered for the lead role.
Oscars: Best Picture, Director, Adapted Screenplay, Cinematography, Original Score, Art Direction-Set Decoration, Sound. Golden Globes: Best Motion Picture (Drama), Supporting Actor (Brandauer), Original Score. BAFTA: Best Screenplay, Cinematography, Sound.
Last word: “[Luedtke] did a first draft, and in the course of doing it we lucked out when a book was published by a woman named Judith Thurman called ‘Isak Dinesen: The Life of a Storyteller’. That book really had the material that permitted us to make a story out of it. The book ‘Out of Africa’ gives you the sense of a woman, but no real detail out of which you could build a narrative. So Kurt and I worked on for a year together after his first draft, and then I committed to do it. It was the character of that woman that attracted me. There was something very touching about her courage. I was also drawn to her whole African experience and how she’d been able to take all the tragedy in her life and digest it and use it in her writing. It transformed her into a real artist, and there was something very moving about that.” (Pollack, The Hollywood Interview)