Huge African landscape, tiny white people!
Screenplay By: Kurt Luedtke
Directed By: Sydney Pollack
I find myself almost at a loss for anything to say about Out Of Africa. It’s a film that didn’t touch me in a bad or good way. I wasn’t swept away by anything positive or negative. Those types of movies are always the hardest to write about because much like the film my thoughts seem fairly bland and rarely worth typing out. While most of my thoughts aren’t worth typing out, as this blog proves, it’s especially troublesome when a movie leaves me with very little to talk about.
If I had to sum up my two biggest problems with Out Of Africa, it would be the way the love story felt so removed from reality and the juxtaposition of the panoramic visuals. Meryl Streep does give a good performance, annoying accent aside, and Robert Redford is serviceable as an English aristocrat. But good and serviceable aren’t the calling cards of a great romantic movie. They had chemistry between them, so it wasn’t that aspect. I was never drawn into their relationship because it was came across like such a fantasy in a movie that otherwise appeared to be striving for some sort of realism. It’s hard to put into words, but I found myself not completely buying into Redford and Streep’s love because I didn’t buy into that relationship existing.
The other problem I mentioned was the juxtaposition of the visuals. The reason I liked Out Of Africa was because of the craft that went into creating the panoramic view of the film. The plains of Africa look splendid, much better than the earlier badly photo shopped Denmark scenes. But, for as technically great looking as Out Of Africa is I can’t help but feel a lack of connection between what the visuals are expressing and the movie is espousing. The characters are all about control of the land, and the direction and writing of the film are all about the romance, wanting the visuals to be a mere backdrop. But, the visuals override all, they take all the attention away from the romance while at the same time spiting in the face of the idea of being controlled by these tiny white people. The visuals make it near impossible to get into the romance, because what does a puny romance matter against such expanse and true grandeur?
I realize my words were more in the negative than positive, but I didn’t hate Out Of Africa, I want to make that clear. It is a technically well crafted film, with very impressive cinematography. It is well acted and I can see others being taken by the romance whereas I was left cold. Out Of Africa didn’t deserve to be considered the best picture of the year in 1985, but isn’t that often the case with the movie the Academy chooses? Out Of Africa is a great looking picture that is well made, but suffers from thematic problems and a disparity in the beauty of the visuals and the reality of the story. Out Of Africa is fairly uneven, in most ways it is what one can expect from a big Hollywood epic.