Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Finding Balance, Out of Africa Style

For me, one of the marks of a good film or a wonderful book is how much I want to spend time in or around its characters, how I want to somehow crawl out of my own world and into theirs each time I watch the film or pick up the book.

In terms of movies, for me that most often happens in period pieces where things are not overly romanticized, but where the visual tone is one of comfort and slightly declining splendor -- where the polished world begins to show a wee bit of tarnish, so to speak.

This was an unexpected find for me -- some deleted scenes from Out of Africa.  There is a second cache of deleted scenes available here as well.  Watching them this morning, I am in heaven, because these are scenes I never knew were available anywhere.

Out of Africa is as close to perfect as a film can be for me.  Yet I now have this irrational need to see an uncut version with the deleted scenes added so that I can see them directly in context within the whole of the film.  The acting, the cinematography, the sets...it is seamless and a perfect antidote to having a sick, wee girlie at home at the moment.

There are days when you need a little dreamy otherworldly atmosphere to pull you out of your own doldrums, right?  Out of Africa does that for me.  The music, especially when coupled with the gorgeous wide-shot scenery in the opening scenes of the movie, are worth watching over and over again for that alone.

The sumptuousness of Karin Blixen's home is breathtaking.  Its one of the reasons that Bombay Company furniture called my name back in its heyday.

It's funny how the attitude of the British Raj is antithetical to what I hold dearest in my own, personal life: superiority of the English convincing themselves of the inferiority of anything foreign to them regardless of the facts, commerce overarching every other concern.  None of that is who I want to be at my core -- I'd prefer to reach out and not exclude, to extend a helping hand rather than crush someone under my heel for personal gain.

But the trappings of that life -- the beauty of the furniture, the Limoges place settings for dinner, the evening's storytelling before the fireplace with a good bottle of wine and friends?  That calls to me.

But luxury comes with a price tag.  And balancing how much of that is worth it while still living up to your own moral code of helping others where you can rather than wildly spending it all on yourself is a tough call sometimes. 

How much is too much?  How can you have home comforts without sacrificing everything else for it?  It is just stuff, after all, even if it is the stuff of fantasy comfort. 

The answer seems to be in having just enough for your own comfort, but not too much -- in simplicity and quality, or some balance of the two which I have yet to achieve.  What do you think?

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