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Nowhere in Africa

Zeitgeist Video // Unrated // February 27, 2018
List Price: $22.99 [Buy now and save at Amazon]

Review by Neil Lumbard | posted April 24, 2018 | E-mail the Author


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Nowhere in Africa Blu-ray Review


Based on the novel by Stefanie
Zweig, Nowhere in Africa is the critically acclaimed film from
director
Caroline Link (Beyond Silence, A Year Ago in Winter). It
won the
Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film. This is a period piece
set in the
1930's. The story follows the lives of a Jewish family who end up
living within
Africa as refugees. Over the course of many years, the film explores
their
experiences as intertwined with those of the Kenyan peoples.


Jettel Redlich (Juliane Köhler) and Walter
Redlich (Merab
Ninidze) leave behind Germany to escape the horrors of the Nazi
occupation.
They set out to live a much different life in Africa. The journey
brings them
to new experiences, encounters, and a much different environment.


Bringing along their only daughter, Regina Redlich
(performed
in the film by two actresses, with Lea Kurka portraying the young
daughter and
Karoline Eckertz as an older teenage daughter), the family navigates
the land
with the help of a local cook, Owuor (Sidede Onyulo). Owuor treats
Regina like
a daughter and is often responsible for helping to raise her while her
parents
often bicker and fight about their circumstances while living under
much
different circumstances than they had been under while living in
Germany. However,
the family has no real option but to stay in Africa because of the Nazi
occupation.


Exploring the familial relationship of these
characters is a
central component of the film. This is simultaneously a family drama
and a tale
of growing up. The film explores the life of Regina Redlich as she
grows up
living in Africa, surrounded by a significantly different environment
than her
parents were accustomed to.


The film has marvelous production design work done
by Susann
Bieling (The Adventures of Huck Finn) and Uwe Szielasko (The
White
Massai
). It also benefits from some wonderful cinematography by
Gernot Roll
(Little Sharks) which highlights the beauty of the natural
environment
of Africa.


The music score composed by Niki Reiser (A Year
Ago in
Winter
, Beyond Silence) is also another one of the film's
greatest
strengths. With a atmospheric score with instrumentation shining
through, the
score often feels like one of the best central components.


Caroline Link (Beyond Silence) wrote the
screenplay and
directed.  Despite being impressed by
some of the film's noteworthy production merits, it is unfortunate that
I
didn't have a stronger connection to the story. Though I can see why
the film
earned acclaimed by critics upon its release, the film ultimately left
me
feeling cold and detached from its storyline. Link has a impressive
style as a
director but this film isn't far removed from a generic Hollywood
production
that would be criticized for allowing style to overshadow substance. Nowhere
in Africa
has plenty of cinematic style but it doesn't utilize it
well.


With characters that are so self absorbed being a
huge part
of the storytelling, it was aggravating seeing the constant love-hate
relationship of Jettel Redlich and Walter Redlich. These characters
constantly bicker,
fight, and argue before making up with each other repeatedly over the
course of
the entire film. The relationship of these characters feels stilted:
there's nothing
even remotely romantic about their relationship to each other. Despite
breathtaking imagery showcasing Africa, the storytelling falls flat
with a lack
of great characters to draw audiences in. Nowhere in Africa may
be a
beautiful looking film (on the surface) with excellent production
merits but the
story feels so detached that the end result is a lackluster, overrated,
and
droll experience.


The Blu-ray:


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Video:


Presented on Blu-ray with a 1080p MPEG-4 AVC
encoded high definition
presentation in the original 2.35:1 widescreen theatrical aspect ratio.
This is
a strong high definition presentation which has excellent clarity,
depth, and
color reproduction. The film has a naturally filmic HD look which will
please
cinema enthusiasts.


Audio:


The German DTS-HD Master Audio
5.1 has outstanding clarity and detail. The dialogue reproduction is
excellent.
This is a superb sounding release. With strong lossless audio,
audiences will
be pleased with the sound design and its implementation. It's greatest
accomplishment is the soaring score being so well reproduced.


Optional English Subtitles are
provided.


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Extras:


This release includes a number of supplemental
materials
from the previously released DVD special edition.


Cast and Crew Interviews: Caroline Link
(Director), Peter
Herrmann, and Stefanie Zweig
(SD, 32 min.), Sidede Onyulo (SD,
9
min.), Merab Ninidze (SD, 19 min.), Juliane Kohler(SD,
21 min.), and
Matthias Habich  
(SD, 17 min.)


Deleted Scenes (SD, 10 min.)


Making of Documentary (SD, 29 min.) focusing
on the production of the film.


Storyboard Comparison (SD, 3 min.)


US Trailer (SD, 2 min.)


German Trailer (SD, 3 min.)


Final Thoughts:


Nowhere in Africa is a beautiful looking
film which
showcases the breathtaking land of Africa. However, the film lacks
great
storytelling and characterizations.  The
Blu-ray features excellent PQ/AQ and a decent assortment of extras.
However,
newcomers should consider skipping it as the film is a sadly
disappointing
experience that misses the mark.


Skip It.



Neil Lumbard is a lifelong fan of cinema. He aspires to make movies and has written two screenplays on spec. He loves writing, and currently does in Texas.

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