Out of Africa – 25th Anniversary Edition, Blu-ray (1985/2010)

by | May 7, 2010 | DVD & Blu-ray Video Reviews | 0 comments

Out of Africa – 25th Anniversary Edition, Blu-ray (1985/2010)

Starring: Meryl Streep, Robert Redford, Klaus Maria Brandauer
Director: Sydney Pollack
Music: John Barry, Mozart
Studio: Universal 61112355 [4/27/10]
Video: 1.85:1 for 16:9 1080p HD
Audio: English DTS-HD MA 5.1, French DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH
Extras: “Song of Africa” full-length documentary on making of the film, Deleted scenes, Feature commentary by Sydney Pollack, BD Live!, more
Length: 2 hours 41 minutes
Rating: *****

Out of Africa won seven Academy Awards and deserved them. It is an epic tale taking place in the almost too-romantic scenery of the Kenya area in Africa around the time of the First World War – a story of love, loss and self-discovery.

The film is based on a true story of the Danish writer who went by the (male) name Isak Dinesen. She wanted to get out of Denmark because she was at the age when marriage was expected of her, but her lover was killed in a plane crash. She also wanted companionship and offered her money to exchange for marriage to her lover’s brother, a German. They had planned to start a dairy farm in Kenya but he started a risky venture growing coffee instead. He spent most of his time hunting and didn’t run the plantation. He also gave his wife Karen syphilis, from which she recovers. In addition to disease, she has to also fight floods, fire, war, lions, you name it.  After she and her husband part and she is running the plantation, she slowly becomes closer to another big game hunter, Denys, played by Redford. Her ability to improvise long verbal tales impresses him greatly. Their romantic relationship is portrayed in depth and the two really seem to have chemistry for one another. Streep looks more ravishing than I recall ever seeing, but then of course 25 years have passed since the film was shot… Her slight Danish accent was just right, but then of course Streep always gets accents perfect.

The hunting scenes were a bit disturbing, as well as the wealth and attitudes of the colonists contrasted with the poverty of the natives, but considering the era Karen was a very progressive, independent and and fair woman who among other things started a free school for the native children after she found she could have no children. All the sounds and colorful qualities of Africa are beautifully portrayed and many of the scenic long shots are absolutely breathtaking. I will always remember a very long shot of a train steaming across a huge open area surrounded by mountains.  The transfer to Blu-ray looks terrific – this is certainly a film that benefits greatly from Blu-ray.  The many Mozart selections heard on Denys’ gramophone and the fine original score by John Barry add to this magnificent production.  The major documentary in the extras – "Song of Africa" – is almost as good as the movie itself, and highly recommended.  It includes great interviews with Streep, Pollack and Barry, and some scenes from the cutting room floor.

 — John Sunier

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