August 16, 2011

Good Tues. Nice day here, sunny, with wind.

We watched Out of Africa over the weekend, the 1985 movie with Robert Redford and Meryl Streep recounting the story of the Danish Baroness Karen von Blixen-Finecke, known to the world as Isak Dinesen, whose books about Africa have sold millions of copies. Streep is outstanding, as usual, managing a convincing Danish-English accent throughout. Redford plays an American with the unlikely surname Finch-Hatton. The real Denys Finch Hatton was British, but the director thought Redford would be unconvincing with a Brit accent; considering Redford’s previous films (The Sting, All the President’s Men, Jeremiah Johnson, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, etc.), this was probably a good decision. Anyway, the scenery is great, the acting throughout is good (Redford) to excellent (Streep, and Klaus Maria Brandauer as the Baron), the sets/costumes convincing, and the whole thing transporting. Good wildlife shots. The charging lions are very impressive. The plot is somewhat complicated, but basically Blixen was down there to run a coffee plantation in Kenya. Her husband the baron was the brother of her lover, an arrangement the two of them entered into freely, and he was fairly unreliable, so she ended up running the plantation and dealing with the good old boy British colonial system with its ingrained racism and sexism. Redford is okay, but he seems to have modeled his character on Hemingway rather than Dinesen’s book. The film won 7 AAs, including director, music, script, and technical stuff. It runs 2 hrs 41 min but does not drag. Ebert loved it.

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