Out of Africa (Universal’s 100th Anniversary) – Blu-ray Review

Second time is the charm for Sydney Pollock’s love story set against the beautiful yet harsh landscape of Africa.  You won’t find much new on this disc, but what you do find is certainly improved. 

In 1913, Karen (Meryl Streep) is being romanced by Hans Blixen (Klaus Maria Brandauer), but he’s just using her for a good time.  She realizes that marriage is the furthest thing from his mind so she makes a pact with his twin brother Bror (Brandauer again) to enter into a marriage of convenience.  On the way to her wedding in Africa, her train was stopped so that hunter Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford) could put some ivory on the train.

Bror had gone ahead to Africa to set up a dairy, but when Karen arrives she discovers that he’s actually bought a plantation to plant coffee upon and their marriage is in an hour.  Bror and Karen get married and she tries to make the best of the coffee plantation, even though the crop is not a recommended one for the land. 

Bror doesn’t seem interested in either the marriage or the plantation and wants to spend his time hunting big game.  That game is not all that he’s interested in as Karen discovers the unintended consequences of his dalliances.  This puts a permanent rift in their marriage and she turns to Denys for love. 

Out of Africa would win seven Oscars, including best picture, but it would put another loss in the tally for nominated Meryl Streep.  What cannot be denied is the romantic chemistry between Streep and Redford.  They’re both a pleasure to watch and it all unspools against the beautiful African landscape.  Brandauer, who also was nominated and lost, also portrays his character as one of flaws yet still enough personality that we don’t outright hate him (though we probably should as to the little gift he gives Streep’s character).

Out of Africa was put out on Blu-ray several years ago in a disc that had a Blu-ray on one side and a DVD on the other.  They weren’t embraced (flippers were so 90s) and this new version drops that decision and offers us two discs.  The special features will seem like déjà vu for owners of that disc though.  What Universal has done is gone back and re-mastered the film and improved it.

I found the colors popping this time around and if you’ve watched those preservation videos online or on the other discs you know that they’ve done away with some bobbing in one of the scenes with Streep and Redford. 

The high definition format isn’t so forgiving with some of the process shots (a projection scene with Streep and Brandauer at the beginning and she and Redford in the plane) but this transfer does seem to add definition and color to the film, yet little else new.  They don’t even add those featurettes that have been repeated on several of their other discs.  You’ll just need to decide if the new transfer is worth paying for and note the higher MSRP. 

Out of Africa is presented in a 1080p high definition transfer (1.85:1).  Special features are presented in standard definition and include a commentary from late director Sydney Pollack, the 72 minute “Song of Africa” about the real Blixen and the film, 15 minutes of deleted scenes, and the 2 minute trailer.  Disc two is a DVD copy of the film.  The case also features several pages of production notes and photographs. 

Out of Africa is a sweeping romance and features some glorious scenery as well as acting.  In my opinion the new transfer is improved but you’ll have to pay somewhat dearly for it.  The old blu-ray flipper disc is selling for roughly half of what Universal has priced this new one at (guess you have to pay for that restoration).  Fans certainly will want the upgrade. 

Visit the DVD database for more information.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.