Monday, October 10, 2016

Movie Memories: Out of Africa

One of the things I try not to do is to fall down the internet rabbit hole. I failed when I started thinking about various movie memories I've had over the years which were connected with a previous post. Once I became hopelessly lost on YouTube, I decided that I would change focus for a series of new blog posts. Instead of remembering incidences that had occurred during some of my favorite films, I would share some of my favorite actual scenes.

This time around, I thought I would share a scene that's probably #1 on my list. I fell in love with "Out of Africa" when it opened in theaters, and I went back faithfully once a week until it was no longer being shown. I don't know about you, but for me to fall in love with a movie, it has to be with the total package: the story, the actors, the cinematography, and the music. If all of those factors combine in just the right way, it's magic.

"Out of Africa" had that perfect package for me. The story: a slice of history done up by Hollywood about a writer-- a strong, adventurous woman in Africa; her life there and her love affair with a British hunter/adventurer. I already knew Meryl Streep was phenomenal. I also knew that Robert Redford was being panned for portraying an accentless upper-class Englishman. Guess what? His lack of an accent didn't bother me at all. Spiritually he was right for the part. And be completely, totally honest with yourself. If you were in a movie sharing almost all of your scenes with Accent Master Meryl Streep, how do you think you'd come off in the resulting duel? I don't know about you, but I'd be a dud. Redford knew he would be, too. He also knew that he was in a no-win predicament.

But to get back on track, my favorite scene in this movie is when Denys Finch Hatton takes Karen Blixen up in that black and yellow bi-plane for-- as she describes it-- "a glimpse of the world through God's eye."

This scene gives me goosebumps. It gives me chills. My eyes fill with tears. It is an absolutely perfect blend of music and cinematography. It is an example of The Perfect Gift. When all Streep can do to acknowledge how profound this gift is is to reach back to hold Redford's hand, I understand. There could not possibly be words that came close to describing her depth of feeling.

Here's the scene: 

I don't think I've ever told you before, but I once had a large collection of movie soundtracks. John Barry, the composer of the music for "Out of Africa," is one of my favorites, and his lush, romantic music is the perfect accompaniment to David Watkin's cinematography.
This scene (and the entire movie) also led me to read many books on that time period in Africa. It is a fascinating era filled with some larger-than-life people, including Beryl Markham who was a championship trainer of race horses, the first woman to fly solo west across the Atlantic, and the writer of one of my favorite books, West With the Night. (Hollywood may not always get it right, but that doesn't mean we can't do our own research, does it?)
I think one of the things that struck me hardest about the scene above is knowing how wonderful it would be to have another human being know me well enough to give me a gift like that. I never thought it would happen.
But it did. 
And when the hot air balloon took me high over the early morning desert, I heard John Barry's music. When I saw critters out and about to find something for breakfast (and completely unaware of the humans in the silent balloon above them), I thought to myself, "This is even better, Karen. You should've tried a hot air balloon."
When the balloon came gently to earth and we all clambered out of the basket, all I could do was wrap my very own Denis in a hug, bury my face in the side of his neck, and try not to cry. So... does this movie scene mean anything to me at all?  Naaaaaaaaaaaah!
Do any of you have favorite scenes in movies that affect you in much the same way? Please share!


  1. What a stunning scene, Cathy! I had forgotten how wonderful it is until you shared it here, so I'm so glad you did. I can see why it affected you the way it did, too. And that moment when she holds his hand is a perfect example of showing an emotion you could never describe in words. A great scene!

    1. I'm going to be hard-pressed to find another to match it. YouTube is proving to be a bit difficult at the moment!

  2. Oh, this film. I love it so but had forgotten this scene. I guess I need to rewatch it. Thanks for sharing, Cathy.

    1. You're welcome! All I had to see was the title of this post in my inbox, and the music started playing in my head. LOL


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