The best picture (among other awards) winner for 1985, "Out Of Africa" stars Meryl Streep as Baroness Karen Blixen, who comes to Africa with her husband, but finds love with another man(played by Robert Redford). Absolutely stunning cinematography by David Watkin is a highlight, along with great performances from both Redford and Streep.
VIDEO: For a movie that certainly isn't new, Universal has done a very, very good job on this transfer. Images are, for the most part, consistently sharp and offering good detail. The colors of Africa look beautiful and very pleasing, with no problems. Black level generally is average, and flesh tones remain fine throughout.
The few problems that pop up aren't shimmering or pixelation, but there are a couple of scenes that look slightly grainy, and there are a few small marks on the print used(although they certainly weren't distracting). Overall, for a movie that's about 15 years old, it looks better than I'd expected it to.
SOUND: While it's not too bad in terms of audio, it's certainly not as rich or deep as most recent films are. While the soundtrack does sound a bit thin and lacking bass, I didn't really ever find it harsh or tiring to listen to. Much of the film is dialogue, but there are scenes where the audio opens up nicely. Dialogue is understandable, but a little thin at times. Overall it's not bad, and I found enough to enjoy.
MENUS:: The menus themselves are non-animated, but the score does play out in the background, which is always a nice touch.
EXTRAS: Not really the most "packed" of Universal's Collector's Editions, but the features that are offered on this disc are of high quality and are extremely enjoyable.
Commentary: This is the second commentary from director Sydney Pollack that I've had the pleasure to listen to this week. First for Random Hearts, and now for "Out Of Africa". Unlike some directors today, Pollack remains a fascinating speaker to listen to - he keeps his comments organized and his thoughts go further in-depth to the tale on-screen.
He starts off giving information about how he became involved with the movie, and that there had been a history of scripts already written before he became involved, and also talks about the problems with telling a story like this on the big screen. While talking about what's going on on-screen, Pollack doesn't simply tell us what's going on, but he really offers a very strong analysis of not only what's going on on-screen, but the layers beneath what we're watching.
He also mixes technical and story details in a way that keeps things varied and interesting. Also, he doesn't act as if everything always went alright, as some commentators do. He tells us the struggles and the problems that came up, and what took a while to work right. It felt to me like Pollack had put a lot of work and effort into preparing for this commentary, because not only is it informative and well-organized, it's paced very well. There are small pauses, but they never become annoying. And in the end, Pollack has been talking for over 2 1/2 hours.
Theatrical Trailer: The film's cheesy theatrical trailer, presented in full-frame(3 minutes).
A Song Of Africa: An impressively done new documentary taking a look back at the making of this picture. Interviews with everyone from director Pollack to composer John Barry take us through the memories of the making of the picture. In between interview segments are looks and thoughts on and at the history of the story and Africa itself. Especially entertaining is when Streep and Pollack talk about working with the animals. The documentary runs a little under 50 minutes and is really very well-done.
Also: Production notes and cast/crew bios.
Note: If you would like to learn more about director Sydney Pollack, Fox Lorber offers a documentary about Pollack in their "directors" series where the director takes the viewer through almost all of his films. You can read the review here: Directors: Sydney Pollack
Final Thoughts: A very good film, and the documentary and commentary provide a wealth of information about the movie.
The Film B
Video 87/B = (348/400 possible points)
Audio: 83/B = (332/400 possible points)
Extras: 89/B+ = (267/300 possible points)
Menus: 80/B- = (160/200 possible points)
Value: 85/B = (255/300 possible points)
FILM GRADE: B
DVD GRADE: B