Sunday, 4 March 2007

DVD: Out of Africa

Lowdown: A personal voyage through Africa.
Having seen Nowhere in Africa a while ago, and having liked it quite a lot, we thought we should be giving Out of Africa a second chance. I don't know if a "second chance" is the right way to describe it, given that I've only seen once and I don't remember much, but still - we had ourselves a motive.
Out of Africa tells the story of a Danish noble woman, accurately portrayed by Meryl Streep, who through the circumstances of the time - 100 years ago - finds herself going to Africa to be married to a convenient husband and establish a farm there.
Things don't really work according to plan, and a lot of things happen during the way. For a start, she has to go through a world war; then there is disease, and then there's a failed marriage. Salvation comes in the shape of Robert Redford, who seems to portray the character of what you and I might think if we were to be put in Africa some 100 years ago, at least as far as our respect for the locals and our respect for the wildlife would be. Between the Victorian like English and the simple Muslim African folk, Redford definitely stands out as a progressive character.
The film stretches over more than two and a half hours at a fairly slow pace. Too slow, if you were to ask me. Being that it starts with its own ending - Meryl Streep going back to Europe - we are sort of locked in a fatalistic loop, trying to see what it is that makes the inevitable happen. In this way you can sort of see Meryl Streep's coming of age story - how she came to Africa as a spoiled rich woman but matured with it and learns to respect it - serves as a metaphor for the way Africa is regarded in general. But that is a bit of a stretch: Out of Africa, while being a nice and epic story, failed to make an impression on me in any way other than the interesting memoir that it is.
At the end, Out of Africa was just an overly long, relatively boring yet well acted, epic story about cultures colliding in Africa.
Best scene: Streep gets down on her knees to beg the local governor not to remove the locals off their land, now owned by British banks.
Picture quality: Showing its age through a general lack of detail. Not too bad, though.
Sound quality: Very basic usage of the surrounds, no low frequency effects, and the sound shows its age through compression. The film is 20 years old, but much better efforts have been produced in the eighties.
Overall: Too boring - a disappointing 2 stars.

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