Out of Africa is one of those rare movies you can watch over the years and never tire of. Isak Dinesen is a superb story teller, and the cast includes Meryl Streep and Robert Redford as love interests. It certainly deserves the Oscars it won including Best Picture.
We love the main characters for their struggles. All of them have their faults, but they are all people we care about. Dennis Finchhatten, (Robert Redford), although he loves Karen (Meryl Streep), cannot help himself but disappear into the wild for days at a time. He also makes money selling elephant ivory. But at the same time he won’t shoot a lioness threatening Karen, unless it got “a bit” closer. And he has a tribesman friend who travels with him.
Karen is somewhat of a feminist. She inherits her family’s fortune only if she marries, which she does with a friend she doesn’t love. He leaves her, and she runs a coffee plantation in Africa using black labor that she ambiguously both expects hard work from, yet respects at the same time.
They have come as privileged guests who were not invited into someone else’s continent and tribe, in this case. Yet, they are not disrespectful, and they do love Africa.
In one memorable scene, Robert Redford brings a phonograph into the plains and plays Mozart. He says, “Just think, never a human sound in their life and then Mozart.”
I will not give away the ending except to say it is sad and beautiful. One sees that they loved Africa and each other and the African people, but they didn’t belong to each other or the continent. – Tom