Winner of seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture, Out of Africa seems to have slipped more readily from public memory than other comparably lauded films. Yet Sidney Pollack's panoramic treatment of Karen Blixen's novel has retained its atmosphere and slow-burning emotion, and deserves reassessment. Meryl Streep is in her possibly most involving starring role as Baroness Karen Blixen, Danish free spirit whose ill-fated venture at the beginning of World War One to run a coffee plantation in Kenya is overlaid by her intimate yet distant relationship with adventurer and idealist Denys Finch Hatton, unselfconsciously portrayed by Robert Redford. Klaus Maria Brandauer puts in a rare and convincing English-language appearance as the amoral but charming womaniser Baron Bror Blixen. The film is tellingly held together by Kurt Luedke's finely honed screenplay, and John Barry's sumptuously expressive score. On the DVD: The anamorphic 1.85:1 widescreen format reproduces superbly, as does the 4.1 discrete audio. 18 access points are provided, with printed and aural subtitles in English only. Pollack's feature commentary is amusing enough on a single run-through, but an on-location documentary would have been preferable. Production notes and biographies are very adequate, though the theatrical trailer reproduction is notably inferior. No matter, this is a major film, well worth the transfer to DVD.--Richard Whitehouse
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