Romance epics aren’t something we get a lot of in the modern filmmaking scene. It’s really hard to pinpoint exactly why the genre isn’t popular anymore, but it does have to do with other genres of films being heavily saturated. Though, before the turn of the century, Romantic epics were incredibly popular and would be some of the most respected films in Hollywood. Out of Africa is an example of the heights that some of the well-produced, directed, and acted Romantic epics could reach. However, unfortunately for Out of Africa, it was carried simply by the performance of the actors, and the intimacy they brought to the screen.
How to Stream or Download Out of Africa
You can stream it or you can download the film from a digital store. Click on the Download button located below this review. If you like Meryl Streep, check her out also in Into the Woods, Mamma Mia!, and Don’t Look Up. Robert Redford fans, on the other hand, should watch Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Pete’s Dragon.
The Movie Review
The massive, almost 3-hour long run time of Out of Africa chronicles the tale of a chance meeting and the immeasurable attraction that follows right after. Kaen von Blixen, a Danish Baroness is residing in South Africa in hopes to establish her coffee plantation and make as much profit as she can. Though, while things seem to be going simple in the beginning, upon chance she stumbles into Denys Hatton.
Hatton is a local big game hunter, who is very well known among the people and has a decent reputation. Their relationship starts out with him showcasing how Africa works to her, and eventually how infatuation takes over the two lonely people.
Directed by Sydney Pollock, this film was bound to be much larger in scale than it should have been from the start. His films are usually very long, often reaching higher than the 2-and-a-half-hour mark and they suffer because of this. Out of Africa has way too much runtime and not enough substance that actually matters. You could remove a decent chunk of this film and it would remain exactly the same film, perhaps even better and without any pacing issues due to unnecessary scenes.
The airtight script here is incredibly written, thanks in part to the Out of Africa novel it was adapted from. The dialogue feels seamless and realistic, the conversations don’t feel forced due to the writing quality. It also is one of the more faithful film adaptations of a literary classic.
You would think that Sydney Pollack does this in a more reserved way, as films cannot keep showcasing the mindset or feelings of the characters. You would be wrong, because this film is tremendously acted, and you can genuinely feel the emotions of the characters through the portrayals.
The highly popular hair washing scene between Robert Redford and Meryl Streep as their characters – Denys Hatton and Karen von Blixen is perhaps the perfect example of their chemistry. They act without saying a word, their body language, and their glances toward one another tell you the whole story.
There is a painful and broken-hearted way in which Meryl portrays her character, meanwhile, Redford is as soft and somber as you could expect him to be for a role such as Denys Hatton. The actors are thoroughly the carrying force behind this film, and they should be commended for it.
David Watkin’s cinematography is a massive influencer on this film’s grand design. Don’t get me wrong, there are shots that look extremely basic here. However, the shots that are well thought out have been some of the absolute best cinematography of the year. Though I wouldn’t say it had the best cinematography of 1985, it did have some of the most iconic shots of the entire year. The use of natural lighting in a lot of the sequences is quite wonderful in Out of Africa, they work in showcasing the natural chemistry between the two leads.
The Bottom Line
In conclusion, Sydney Pollack’s 1985 adaptation of Out of Africa is perhaps one of the most well-recognized movies. It might not be the most well-paced, or the most unique film due to its accuracy to the novel counterpart. However, it features two actors who are completely and wholly in character, melting into one another during the film’s run time.
There are rarely many actors who blend together so incredibly well during a film, and Out of Africa does the best job of showcasing how beautiful relationships can look on screen if they are well-acted.
- Incredible acting, wonderful chemistry between the actors.
- Natural and organic dialogue.
- Accurate to the book.
- Fantastic cinematography, full of iconic shots.
- Inconsistent pacing due to unnecessary scenes.
- Overly long run-time; could be cut short in half.