Greatest Film Scenes
and Moments

Out of Africa (1985)


Written by Tim Dirks

Title Screen
Movie Title/Year and Scene Descriptions

Out of Africa (1985)

In director Sydney Pollack's Best Picture-winning biographical romantic epic:

  • the lyrically-beautiful scenes on location in Kenya, Africa (during the opening flashback voice-over narration); the prologue was delivered by older Danish Baroness and author/writer Karen Blixen (Meryl Streep), as she slept and then awoke to write - she reflected back on her love of Africa and local big-game hunter Denys Finch Hatton (Robert Redford): " He even took the Gramophone on safari. Three rifles, supplies for a month and Mozart. He began our friendship with a gift. And later, not long before Tsavo, he gave me another. An incredible gift. A glimpse of the world through God's eye. And I thought: 'Yes, I see. This is the way it was intended.' I've written about all the others, not because I loved them less, but because they were clearer, easier. He was waiting for me there. But I've gone ahead of my story. He'd have hated that. Denys loved to hear a story told well. You see, I had a farm in Africa at the foot of the Ngong Hills. But it began before that. It really began in Denmark. (gunshots) And there I knew two brothers. One was my lover, and one was my friend"
  • the scene of the arrival of Danish authoress/wife Karen Tania Blixen-Finecke (aka pen name Isak Dinesen) at the Nairobi (British East Africa) plantation home of her womanizing husband Baron Bror Blixen-Flecke (Klaus Maria Brandauer) - a coffee farm - it was a marriage of convenience
  • the tense scene of a lionness threatening to attack Karen, while white hunter Denys held a gun and waited for the animal to walk off peacefully; he cautioned her: "I wouldn't run. If you do, she'll think you're something good to eat"
  • the majestic biplane ride over the wilds of Africa in which Karen reached back and held hands with Denys during their affair
  • the scene of Hatton shampooing Karen's hair during a safari (to untangle her hair), while he quoted: "Laughed loud and long, and all the while his eyes went to and fro. 'Ha ha,' quoth he, 'Full plain I see. The devil knows how to row.' Farewell, farewell...but this I tell to thee, thou wedding guest...He prayeth well who loveth well both man and bird and beast"
  • the sequence of the plantation's processing shed-barn burning to the ground, destroying all the farm equipment and crops as well and causing great financial hardship; Karen noted: "All gone...I think God had a hand in it. He gave me my best crop ever, and then He remembered"
Grasping Hands During Flight
Plantation Barn Burning
Shampooing Karen's Hair in the Wild
  • the sad sequence of the funeral of Denys after a deadly bi-plane crash at Tsavo in Africa, and Karen's attendance at the outdoor burial/funeral in the Ngong Hills, where she delivered a memorial reading from A.E. Houseman's "To An Athlete Dying Young": ("The time you won your town the race, we cheered you through the market-place. Man and boy stood cheering by, as home we brought you shoulder-high. Smart lad to slip betimes away, from fields where glory does not stay, early though the laurel grows, it withers quicker than a rose. Now you will not swell the rout of lads that wore their honors out, runners whom renown outran, and the name died 'fore the man. And round that early-laurelled head will flock to gaze the strengthless dead, and find unwithered on its curls, a garland briefer than a girl's. Now take back the soul of Denys George Finch Hatton, whom you have shared with us. He brought us joy, and we loved him well. He was not ours. He was not mine"); she resisted the European custom of throwing a handful dirt onto the coffin, and slowly walked away from the grave
  • the film concluded with another poetic voice-over recollection, about her preparations to leave Africa for good: "If I know a song of Africa, of the giraffe and the African new moon lying on her back, of the plows in the fields and the sweaty faces of the coffee pickers, does Africa know a song of me? Will the air over the plain quiver with a color that I have had on? Or will the children invent a game in which my name is? Or the full moon throw a shadow over the gravel of the drive that was like me? Or will the eagles of the Ngong Hills look out for me?"
  • the scene of Baroness Karen's final goodbye at the train station to her African assistant Farah Aden (Malick Bowens) when she asked him to say her name: ("I want to hear you say my name"); he responded: "You are Karen, Msabu")
  • and the film's bittersweet final lines - read by Karen from a letter she received: ("The mail has come today and a friend writes this to me: 'The Masai have reported to the district commissioner at Ngong that many times, at sunrise and sunset, they have seen lions on Finch Hatton's grave. A lion and a lioness have come there and stood or lain on the grave for a long time. After you went away, the ground around the grave was leveled out into a sort of terrace. I suppose that the level place makes a good site for the lions. From there, they have a view over the plain and the cattle and game on it'... Denys will like that. I must remember to tell him")

Opening Narration

Karen's Initial Arrival at Kenya Plantation

With Husband Baron Bror

Lionness Threatening an Attack on Karen - Saved by Denys

Final Goodbye at the Train Station

Lions on Denys' Gravesite


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