Out of Africa (1985)

 

 

 

Director: Sydney Pollack

Starring:  Meryl Streep (Karen Christence Dinesen Blixen), Robert Redford (Denys George Finch Hatton), Klaus Maria Brandauer (Baron Bror Blixen/Baron Hans Blixen), Michael Kitchen (Berkeley Cole), Malick Bowens (Farah), Joseph Thiaka (Kamante), Stephen Kinyanjui (Kinanjui), Michael Gough (Lord Delamere), Suzanna Hamilton (Felicity), Rachel Kempson (Lady Belfield), Graham Crowden (Lord Belfield), Leslie Phillips (Sir Joseph), Mike Bugara (Juma), Shane Rimmer (Belknap, farm manager), Job Seda (Kanuthia).

 

Good story and lovely landscape.  The Danish writer Karen Blixen (a.k.a., Isak Dinesen) with her husband on a coffee plantation in Kenya.  The story sticks pretty close to the real biography of the writer.  Her husband is a great philanderer and they separate. 

 

Patrick Louis Cooney, Ph. D.


Historical Background:    (also see Flame Tree of Thika for a brief history of Kenya)

 

Karen Blixen (penname Isak Dinesen) was a Danish author. 

1885  --  Karen von Blixen-Finecke born Dinesen.  Her father, Wilhelm Dinesen, was a writer and army officer.  She received an art education in Copenhagen, Paris and Rome. 

1895 --  east Africa claimed for the British crown; it lasted nearly a century.

1899  -- the Nairobi-Mombasa railway line completed. 

1905  --  the Norfolk Hotel was the usual destination of passengers on the Nairobi-Mobasa line.   It was the first hotel offering amenities for the aristocracy.  It offered fine dining with a French chef from the Waldorf Astoria in New York City.  So many aristocrats came to the Hotel that it became known as the House of Lords.  One of the great white hunters that came to the Norfolk Hotel was Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke.

1905  --  she published fiction in Danish periodicals.

1914   --  Karen Dinesen married her Swedish cousin, Baron Bror von Blixen-Finecke.  They lived in Kenya where they ran a coffee plantation. 

Her husband was not faithful and she contracted syphilis.

1918  -- she met English hunter Denys Finch Hatton.

1919  --  she goes back to Denmark for about a year and a half.

1921  --   the couple separated.  With her brother Thomas, she continued to operate the coffee plantation. 

1922  --  miscarriage with the hunter's child.

1923  --  the coffee factory burns and her brother leaves.

1924  --  Finch Hatton stayed with her infrequently when he was in Nairobi.

1925  --  she divorced her cousin. Returns to Denmark for a year.

1927  --  Finch Hatton spends more time with Blixen.

1928  --  Finch Hatton takes the Prince of Wales on a safari; Karen Blixen entertains the Prince in her home.

1929  --  most of the year she spends in Denmark.   The Great Depression begins.

1931  --  when the coffee market collapsed and Finch Hatton died in a plane crash, she had to abandon the plantation.

1934  --  she returned to Denmark and there wrote Seven Gothic Tales in English.

1937  --  she wrote Out of Africa about her experiences in Kenya.

During WWII  --  the Nazis occupied Denmark. 

1947  --  Blixen published her only full-length novel, The Angelic Avengers.

1950s  --  her health deteriorated.

1957  --   she published Last Tales.

1958  --  published  Anecdotes of Destiny.

1960  --  published  Shadows on the Grass.

1962  --  death of Karen Blixen from malnutrition.

 

 

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