The Great Wall
Unlike any American blockbuster you've seen, a conservative movie with action set pieces that are actually inventive and thrilling enough to be worthwhile.
Earlier there was a moment when a lioness seemed about to attack, but did not. The baroness had been riding her horse on the veld, had dismounted, had lost her rifle when the horse bolted. Now the lioness seemed about to change, when behind her a calm voice advised the baroness not to move one inch. "She'll go away," the voice said, and indeed the lioness did skulk away after satisfying its curiosity. That scene sets up the central moment in Sydney Pollack's "Out of Africa." It comes somewhat later in the film. The baroness is on safari with the man who owns the cool voice, a big game hunter named Denys. They happen upon a pride of lions. Once again, the man assumes charge.
He will protect them. But then a lion unexpectedly charges from another direction, and it is up to the baroness to fell it, with one shot that must not miss, and does not. After the man and woman are safe, the man sees that the woman has bitten her lip in anxiety. He reaches out and touches the blood. Then they hold each other tightly. If you can sense the passion in that scene, then you may share my emjoyment of "Out of Africa," which is one of the great recent epic romances. The baroness is played by Meryl Streep. The Hunter is Robert Redford. These are high-voltage stars, and when their chemistry is wrong for romances (as Streep's was for "Falling in Love," and Redford's was for "The Natural"), it is very wrong. This time, it is right.
The movie is based on the life and writings of Baroness Karen Blixen, a Danish woman who, despairing that she would be single forever, married her lover's brother, moved out to Kenya in East Africa, ran a coffee plantation on the slopes of Kilimanjaro and later, when the plantation was bankrupt and the dream was finshed, wrote books about her experiences under the name Isak Dinesan. Her books are glories - especially Out of Africa and Seven Gothic Tales - but they are not the entire inspiration for this movie. What we have here is an old-fashioned, intelligent, thoughtful love story, told with enough care and attention that we really get involved in the passions among the characters.
In addition to the people Streep and Redford play, there is a third major character, Bror, the man she marries, played by Klaus Maria Brandmuer. He is a smiling, smooth faced enigmatic man who likes her well enough, after his fashion, but never seems quite equal to her spirit. After he gives her syphills and she returns to Denmark for treatment, she is just barely able to tolerate his behavior - after all, he did not ask to marry her - until a New Year's Eve when he flaunts his infidelity, and she asks him to move out.