The filmmakers structured the movie is six distinct segments, separated by seven voice-over monologues - beautifully spoken by Meryl Streep, together they tell the story of Karen Blixen's time in Africa.
I Had A Farm in Africa
"He even took the gramaphone on safari. Three rifles, supplies for a month and Mozart. We began our friendship with a gift. And later, not long before Samburu, 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 of the others. Not because I love them less but because they were clearer ... easier. He was waiting for me there. But I've gone ahead of my story. Denys would 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. There I knew two brothers, one was my lover and one was my friend."
"It's an odd feeling, farewell. There is some envy in it. Men go off to be tested for courage. And if we're tested at all it's for patience. For doing without. Perhaps for how well we can endure lonliness. But I'd always known that. It didn't require a war. I said goodbye to Bror. Denys left without a word, which was quite proper."
A Compass to Steer By
"I had a compass from Denys. To steer by he said. But later it came to me that we navigated differently. Perhpas he knew, as I did not, that the earth was made round so that we would not see too far down the road."
The Colors of Africa
"Later that day I left for Mombasa and the voyage home to Denmark. It was a longer journey this time. The War went on. I fought my own war. Arsenic was my ally against an enemy I never saw. I stayed in the room where I was born in Rungstedland and tried to remember the colors of Africa. There was only the medicine and walks with my mother along a deserted stretch of beach. And this room in my mother's house. Denmark had become a stranger to me . And I to her. But my mother's house I came to know again. I knew I would ocme back to it. Sick or well. Sane or mad. Someday. And so I did. After Samburu."
Until it Ended
"In the days and hours that Denys was at home we spoke of nothing ordinary. Not of my troubles with the farm, my notes due and my failing crop. Or of his with his work and what he knew was happening with Africa. Or of anything at all that was small and real. We lived disconnected and apart from things. I had been making up stories while he was away. In the evenings he made himself comfortable, spreading cushions like a couch in front of the fire and with me sitting cross legged like Shaharazaud herself, he would listen, clear-eyed, to a long tale from when it began until it ended."
A Song of Africa
"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 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?"
Denys Would Have Liked That
"Mail has come today and a friend writes this to me. 'The Maasai have reported to the district commissioner at Ngong tha tmany times at sunrise and sunset they have seen lions on Finch Hatton's grave. A lion and lioness have gone there are stood or lain on the grave for a long time. After you went away the ground round 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 plane and the cattle and the game on it.' Denys will like that. I must remember to tell him."
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