Sunday, August 19, 2012

Out of Africa - Sidney Pollack

The Economist recently reported that Out of Africa is Angela Merkel's favorite movie. After watching it, I offer three possible explanations of Frau Merkel's taste for this movie:

1. Merkel identifies herself with Karen Dinesen (Meryl Streep), a tireless woman who is able to do a Safari on her own, run successfully a coffee plantation, and have a love story with a hunter.

2. A coffee plantation in Africa run by a white womAn who teaches Africans to read and have European manners is a simile for Merkel's vision of Europe when and if it overcomes the current financial crisis: she and the Germans would be able to finance their socialist state with the rents they would extract from the GIPSI countries as a result of successive rounds of rescue. In return, Frau Merkel and other law-abiding serious Germans would teach citizens from the GIPSI countries to become hardworking people (not Germans, but something close to it).

3. Merkel simply likes the love story between Karen Dinesen and Denys Finch (Robert Redford)

With its 2 hours and 40 minutes of duration, Out of Africa is also the testimony of a bygone era of film making. At the time of its release (1985) relatively long movies were not uncommon.  Competition with other media was not an issue back in the day, so studios could invest in long movies and directors could develop their stories fully, especially if a movie was based on a book.  Dances with Wolves took these two concepts to the extreme with its 4 hours of duration. Home theater, DVDs, HBO and Netflix changed that radically: complex histories are now told in series, and movies are usually 2 hours shots of superficial stories for wide audiences.

For some reason, youtube has the full movie online. I embed the video right below:

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