Staff Review – Out Of Africa

     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

     

Staff Book Review

 

   I thought for August it might be fun to air my opinion on what is considered great literature.  George Eliot is one of the giants of Victorian Literature.  Her novels are as giant as her reputation, and in my opinion as  dull and ponderous with a few exceptions.  The novel, Romola, is a delight.  It takes place in Renaissance Florence at a time when Intellectual and artistic ability were open to many, and Social standing and Political power were fluid.  This is the world in which we are introduced to the charming character of Tito Melema.  He begins from nothing.  He marries the most perfect woman in Florence, beautiful, kind and boring.  He has political ambitions. He is always at the right plays at the right time.  He always knows the right thing to say.  He excels at oratory.  He is modest when it serves his purpose, and likewise he is kind and handsome.  One cannot read his conversations and his perspectives on the world and not be fond of him despite his flaws.  Even when you discover he has a secret peasant wife with beautiful children whom he adores, the reader still loves him.  There are a lot of characters, and a lot happens, as in any book by George Eliot.  Much of it is interesting, but for me, one of the most fascinating and appealing characters of all times in the cannon of great literature is without a doubt Tito Melema.  Because of him, you’ll wish a very long book was longer.

-Tom