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Out of Africa
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,Out Of Africa

Out of Africa

Out of Africa (1985), starring Meryl Streep and Robert Redford, is based on the 1937 book by Danish writer Isak Dinesen. The film tells the autobiographical tale of Baroness Karen Blixen (Dinesen's true name), portrayed by Streep, and her time spent on a coffee plantation in East Africa in the early twentieth century. Blixen, in the film, marries Baron Bror Blixen-Finecke (Klaus Maria Brandauer) and moves with him to Africa. The marriage is most unsatisfactory as he is a womanizer who eventually leaves her to take care of the plantation on her own. The Baroness meets a hunter named Denys (Redford), and the two begin an idyllic love affair.

The idea of adapting the Dinesen's memoirs to the screen had been thrown around for decades before the project was finally picked up by Universal Studios. Orson Welles and David Lean had both considered making the film, and Nicholas Roeg thought about making the film with Julie Christie starring as Karen. Sydney Pollack was the one to produce the film in the 1980s, along with directing it. Out of Africa was shot on location in Africa; the city of Nairobi was recreated by local workers as it had appeared in the early 1900s. The production was not without its share of problems. The country was in the middle of a drought during filming, and the crew had to consider moving to a different location; the rains came just as they were attempting to decide where to relocate. Many crew members contracted malaria, and filming animals in the bush posed its own special problems. It is illegal to touch or maneuver wild animals, so the crew had to camp out for hours while they waited for the animals to come into just the right spot for each shot. Despite the difficulties encountered, many would say it was well worth it, because the film was nominated for a total of eleven Academy Awards, winning seven of them.

The Oscars Out of Africa was nominated for but did not win are: Best Actress (Streep), Best Supporting Actor (Brandauer), Best Film Editing, and Best Costume Design. The categories in which the film took home the statues are Best Picture, Best Director, Best Screenplay Based on Material from Another Medium, Best Cinematography, Best Art Direction-Set Decoration, Best Sound, and Best Original Score. Streep's nomination for Best Actress marked her sixth nomination, and though she did not win (the Oscar went to Geraldine Page for The Trip to Bountiful), her role in this film is still considered to be one of her best.

Producer/Director: Sydney Pollack
Screenplay: Isak Dinesen (memoirs), Kurt Luedtke
Production Design: Stephen Grimes
Cinematography: David Watkin
Costume Design: Milena Canonero
Film Editing: Pembroke Herring, Sheldon Kahn, Fredric Steinkamp, William Steinkamp
Original Music: John Barry
Principal Cast: Meryl Streep (Karen), Robert Redford (Denys), Klaus Maria Brandauer (Bror), Michael Kitchen (Berkeley), Joseph Thiaka (Kamante), Michael Gough (Delamere), Stephen Kinyanjui (Kinanjui), Suzanna Hamilton (Felicity).
C-161m. Letterboxed. Closed captioning.

by Sarah Heiman

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