Sunday, February 12, 2012

A Perfect Movie to Watch with Your Valentine

If I know a song of Africa,
of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back,
of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers,
does Africa know a song of me? 
Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on,
or the children invent a game in which my name is,
or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me, or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?

Karen Blixen - from the movie Out of Africa

google image
In my opinion, there’s no more romantic movie than Out of Africa (1985). It tells the story Danish author Karen Blixen's, pen name Isak Dinesen (1885-1962) nostalgic life as a settler on a coffee plantation in British East Africa, now Kenya.

The movie presents a lyrical depiction of life on a colonial farm, with deaths, drought and disappointments--as well as great and tragic friendships.

It’s the grand love story between Blixen (Meryl Streep) and Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford). The two met in 1918, after Karen’s marriage to the reckless Swedish Baron Bror Blixen had ended. 
Finch Hatton (1887-1931), was an English aristocrat and army officer and also a trader and safari leader in East Africa. Blixen and Finch Hatton's meeting led to the start of a long love affair.

Who can forget two highly sensual scene when they go on safari?

Redford shampoos Streep’s hair:

or their waltz under the stars, with Mozart on the gramophone? 

 Music, candlelight, white linen, crystal: what a way to go on safari!
Karen's house in the film previously belonged to the widow of the first Prime Minister and President of Kenya.
Meryl Streep and Robert Redford having breakfast on the veranda.
Karen's dreamy bedroom with mosquito netting.
Pictures and interesting information about the making of the movie.
Poetry in Out of Africa
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge

As Redford shampoos Streep's hair during their Safari, he recites to her lines at the end of the poem, 

 He prayeth well, who loveth well
Both man and bird and beast.

 These words also appear on a simple brass plaque marker at his tomb in the Ngong Hills.

In the flyleaf of the copy of the poem owned by Karen Blixen, Denys drew a picture of a rhinoceros.

This drawing is reproduced in Isak Dinesen's Letters from Africa.

With Rue My Heart is Laden
by A.E. Housman

With rue my heart is laden
For golden friends I had,
For many a rose-lipt maiden
 And many a lightfoot lad.

By brooks too broad for leaping
The lightfoot boys are laid;
The rose-lipt girls are sleeping
In fields where roses fade.

Toward the end of the film, Streep accepts a drink from the exclusive all men's club in Nairobi, before her final departure from Africa. She offers a toast with the phrase rose-lipped maidens lightfoot lads.

 The toast also is repeated before the seduction scene on safari.


A Stropshire Lad: XIX to an Athlete Dying Young
by A. E. Housman
(Karen reads the poem at Finch Hatton's burial) 
 The time you won your town the race
We chaired you through the market-place;
Man and boy stood cheering by,

And home we brought you shoulder-high.
Smart lad, to slip betimes away

From fields where glory does not stay
And early though the laurel grows
It withers quicker than the rose.
Now you will not swell the rout

Of lads that wore their honours out,

Runners whom renown outran

And the name died before the man.

Around that early-laurelled head

Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,

And find unwithered on its curls

The garland briefer than a girl's.

 Streep adds these words:
Now take back the soul of Denys George Finch Hatton, whom You have shared with us. He brought us joy...we loved him well. He was not ours. He was not mine.

More photos
Karen Blixen and Denys Finch Hatton in Africa
Happy Valentine Day to You and Yours


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. That black and white photo of Karen holding hands with a man to her right is NOT her husband Bror. It is her brother: Thomas Dinesen. Thomas and Karen were fairly close and Thomas lived for a time in a house on the African farm owned by Bror & Karen. Please go look up Thomas Dinesen and you will see that he is NOT Karen's husband. That same photo is also wrongly labelled on Pinterest. Thank you. --A Blixen scholar.


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