Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Out of Africa

Just saw "Out of Africa" for the first time. It's a stunning film. This has something to do with the combination of Meryl Streep's slow, quiet voice and the expansive, serene vistas of Africa.

Yes, it's also to do with the attacks of lions and with Robert Redford's slow, quiet looks that hide a soul afraid of being caged in. And of course Karen and Dennis's argument before the fireplace cuts to the dilemmas of the 'plot' of the movie: trust, independence, freedom, dependability. Those are the human problems the film presents. Very nice and interesting to talk about, but not what makes the movie so perplexing.

The film's achievement is the lasting impression of peace it gives us despite the incredible disruptions at the end of its narrative. The answers to those human question are presented not by the unfolding plot but by those vistas, by that voice. The serenity of green and the roll of Karen's slightly labored lilt are what make you close your eyes after the movie ends and keep imagining it is still going on. Karen has gone out of Africa, but Africa has not left her, nor us.

From our greatest losses--the film tells us, reminds us, enacts for us--something, an overwhelming something, lasts.

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