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on 26 April 2017
This film is interesting and moving on several different levels. It portrays the circumstances of a Jewish family escaping from Germany and their subsequent arrival in Africa. It shows how the daughter of the family finds it easier to assimilate into the this new culture. Also, the film sensitively shows the tensions between her parents. The internment by the British colonials of the German Jewish family as World War II develops impinges upon them. This subtle and endearing film is both uplifting and thought-provoking. Well worth the price,
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on 11 October 2013
This film is an absolute gem. As other reviewers have noted, if you like Out of Africa you will like this, but it is a very different film indeed. It is one of the most intelligent, human and compassionate films I have come across. Quite why it is either so difficult to source or so expensive is a mystery. Curiously, it is more available in the USA (Amazon.com) and has many favourable viewer reviews there. Don't let that put you off though, a Hollywood film this definitely is not. A two disc special edition is available there but not in the UK. You can enjoy this film on several levels: if you like Africa and have been there this captures the country's soul; if you want an interesting insight into some of the politics and power of the times you will be rewarded, and if you simply want to see compassionate human interaction then you will be uplifted. Perhaps because the characters are escaping from hate they behave with more consideration towards each other. Not to be missed - but come on Amazon, can you source the special edition for region 2?
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on 10 June 2017
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on 9 April 2017
I do not like this product as this DVD is in the ITALIAN LANGUAGE ONLY.
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Simply put, NOWHERE IN AFRICA is a beautiful, beguiling film that explores the essence of what is "home".
The film begins in the snows of Germany in 1938. Jettel Redlich (Juliane Kohler) and her 4-year old daughter are out for a day of sledding. Amidst the frolic, each is rudely knocked to the ground by anonymous fellow citizens. The Redlichs, you see, are Jews in Hitler's Third Reich.
Having suspected the direction that National Socialist anti-Semitism will take, Jettel's husband, Walter (Merab Ninidze), had previously given up his law practice and gone to Kenya to prepare ground for the family's emigration. He's gotten work as the range manager on a drought-plagued cattle farm. Despite the hardships, Walter writes to Jettel to come immediately with Regina and bring only the essentials and/or whatever the Nazis will allow them to carry. So, several months before Kristalnacht, mother and daughter take ship from Europe, leaving both sets of grandparents behind to their wartime fates.
Depicting a span of nine years and "told" through Regina's eyes, NOWHERE IN AFRICA examines the response of each Redlich to immersion in a vastly different physical environment and culture. Walter, the realist, embraces his new circumstances as the key to survival, even as his fortunes change multiple times over the course of the film. Jettel, arriving in Kenya a pampered, upper-middle class wife, learns the hard way. She's initially horrified by the heat, dust, dryness, monotonous diet, local customs, lack of genteel amenities, and the necessity of having to interact with native Blacks. Regina (Lea Kurka and Karoline Eckertz) copes the best of all, beginning with her immediate attachment to the family's congenial native cook, Owour, marvelously played by Sidede Onyulo. Of the three, the daughter becomes the most Africanized.
After nine years, after having endured a roller coaster of experiences and a sometimes troubled marriage, Walter and Jettel must decide whether or not to return themselves and Regina to a defeated and devastated homeland. Do they owe anything to the country that rejected them and liquidated their relatives?
Every aspect of NOWHERE IN AFRICA can be described by a superlative. It's a sedately paced love affair with Africa in all of its seductiveness. Even locusts play a part. In the very last scene, perhaps Jettel and the viewer realize that "going home again" may not be an option when the realm of the heart has shifted forever.
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HALL OF FAMEon 21 September 2007
If Jettel Redich, a sophisticated, attractive and perhaps shallow woman with a small daughter, a loving husband and a warm, extended family, had had her way in 1938 she would not have left Germany to join her husband in East Afrika. Of course, if she hadn't she and her daughter, along with all her family, would have been killed in the German death camps three or four years later. Jettel (Julianne Kohl), her husband Walter (Merab Ninidze) and their daughter, Regina (Lea Kurka and then, older, Karoline Eckertz), are Jews. Walter, a prosperous lawyer and judge in Germany, could see what was happening. He managed to get an exit visa, went as a Jewish refuge to Kenya, and then sent for his family. Regina with help got exit visas, but only reluctantly. The other family members all believed their fellow Germans would come to their senses and the Hitler thing would pass. Nirgendwo in Afrika tells us what happened to Walter, Jettel and Regina. It's an absorbing story which, even in 141 minutes, tries to do too much. Even so, and even if nothing really seems deeply affecting and certainly not tragic, the Redich family and how they changed kept me watching. The movie is rambling but also often affecting.

The best Walter could do was to hire on to run a failing cattle outpost. The land is dry and full of scrub. He writes to his wife asking her bring a number of practical things they will need. She, instead, brings an expensive ball gown. Their house is scarcely more than a large shack. Malaria is always a possibility. The native Kenyans look upon them as curiosities. Water has to be carried from a distant well. In the midst of all this we see three things. Walter knows that staying in Germany would have meant death for them. He's prepared to do what he must to make some sort of life where he is. Jettel is appalled by what she sees and faces. She longs for her family and for the life she had. There, she was married to a prosperous lawyer and judge. Here, she is married to a hired hand. Regina, about six years old, simply accepts everything. Soon she's playing with the native children and picking up their language. The family has a cook, a tall man named Owuor (Sidede Onyulo). Walter tries to deal with him respectfully. Jettel without thinking about it treats him as a servant. Regina as usual simply accepts him as a friend. To give you an idea of the tone of the movie, if Nirgendwo in Afrika were remade by Hollywood, the part of Owuor would undoubtedly be played by Morgan Freeman.

In the course of the movie they make one good friend, a tough fellow Jew who left Germany in 1933. They are interred by the British as a possible threat when war comes in 1939, even though they are refugees from Nazi Germany. They eventually are released. Sexual dissatisfaction abounds. Walter finds employment on a better farm, he joins the British Army and is sent to Burma. Jettel learns how to run the farm and deal with the native workers. Regina grows into a unselfconscious child whose friends are all native children. She learns about being a Jew when she is sent to an English school in Nairobi where the anti-Semitism is more condescending than vicious. In a subtle way Caroline Link, the director, also lets us make our own discoveries regarding the treatment of Jews in Thirties Germany and the treatment of Africans by colonialists. By now we've seen Walter's and Jettel's marriage nearly break apart. We even experience locusts. We also see, gradually, how Walter for all his practicality yearns to return to Germany after the war. We see how Jettel has grown into a responsible, capable woman who has come to love where she is and hates the idea of returning. Regina, or course, simply has become a part of Africa and of the people she knows. Like the movie itself, the conclusion is not quite satisfying and not quite unhappy.

The only serious reservation I have about the movie are the two instances of fairly explicit coupling involving Walter and Jettel. My objections have nothing to do with prudery, but with how sex is usually used to pander to the audience. In both scenes sexual intimacy is used to show us the longing and need for the kind of shared intimacy that includes but goes well beyond sexual need. The director chooses to show us so much skin, so many positions and so much perspiration that, in my view, the audience is simply encouraged to become voyeurs in the name of art. As with most dramas, the more explicit the sex we see, the more the story-line comes to a halt.

Nirgendwo in Afrika won the 2003 Academy Award for best foreign language film. It is beautifully photographed.
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The story opens in 1938, as Jews Jettel and her daughter Regina are preparing to escape Germany and join her husband who has found work in Kenya. Life on a poor farm in the bush is a shock to the spoiled Jettel, but 5 year old Regina loves it and the people, especially their loyal cook, Owuor. Over the next ten years, the family faces many challenges.

This movie is based on the autobiography of the real Regina. With the war as a backdrop, it focuses on the relationship between her parents; she's selfish and stubborn, he's hardworking and loving, and their marriage is a difficult one. Regina has her own adjustments to make when she is sent away to boarding school. The one constant in her life is her beloved friend Owuor, and his scenes were the most touching for me.

The movie is gritty and realistic. The actors appear to have no make-up and the photography uses mostly natural light which, unfortunately, made everything in the shadows look inky black. Another drawback for me was the editing; scenes jump from one to the other with no smooth transitions and there are many storylines that are never resolved. Since this is a true story, I would have liked to see an epilogue at the end telling about the family. It also seemed too long for me.

It is a very interesting and poignant story about suffering and adjustment that conveys the horror of war without actually showing any footage. In German with subtitles. 3.5 stars.
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on 2 October 2003
Your Review of
Nowhere in Africa
DVD ~ Juliane Köhler
NOWHERE IN AFRICA certainly deserves the Academy Award for Foreign Film 2002 it won. This is an epic story about the human condition that transcends even the semibiographical time it addresses. In short, a happy and well-to-do German family (who happen to be Jewish, mostly in name only) 'escape' to Africa in 1938 just as Hitler is beginning to unfurl his blanket of the Holocaust. The father has proceeded the mother and daughter to find a place to live and a means of support. He is aided (importantly) by a native cook named Owuor (the symbol of universal mankind and spirit) in creating a home away from Germany. The basic theme of the story is how the transplanted Germans adjust to their new home, how the mother (not at all happy about giving up the good life in Germany to dwell among the natives whom she considers inferior people) attempts to inculcate her young daughter on how to stay separate from these 'dirty,untrustworthy' lower caste types. The daughter immediately relates to the gentle Owuor and falls in love with her new life. Matters drive husband and wife apart, they eventually are 'detained' (by the British who see them as Germans not unlike what the US did to the Japanese in WW II)in a camp which for all the world looks like a luxury hotel - without a sense of home. The husband joins the military and eventually the family moves back to their litlle home in the wilderness, survive locusts and famine, and through many trials find each other again. The bite to this film comes mostly from the mother's attitutde towards the Africans: it mirrors the attitude of the Nazis toward the Jews in Germany. How that bite is resolved contains some of the more sensitive movie making in a long time.
The cast is uniformly excellent: Juliane Kohler and Merab Ninidje as the parents, Sidede Onyulo as Owuor, and the two actors who share the role of Regina the daughter - Lea Kurka and Karoline Eckertz. The film is tightly and lovingly directed by Caroline Link, making the most of the vastness and beauty of Kenya. Truly a film to see and see again. In German and African languages with excellent subtitles.
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on 9 September 2014
This is the second time I have been asked to give my opinion of the service I have received regarding the film Nowhere in Africa. I have received disgraceful service and I am very disappointed indeed. I was expecting a version of the film as it was shown on television, which was in the original German and African with English sub-titles. Instead I received a version dubbed into Italian with Italian sub-titles. I have had to pay over sixteen pounds for a film which is of no use to me at all. As I have already said, I have already let you know of my disappointment, but instead of receiving some reparation and an apology, you have shown even more inefficiency by asking for my opinion a second time.
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I have had a recent love affair with German cinema, and have already waxed lyrical about the merits of such recent films as "The Counterfeiters", "The Lives of others", "North Face" and "The White Ribbon". But whereas the chances of the bubble bursting on the uncanny robotic ability of the Germans to take the perfect penalty is infinitesimal, my German film bubble certainly sprung a bit of a leak after watching this film. The signs were good. Voted best foreign language film at the 2002 oscars, and generally well received by critics, especially and unsurprisingly in Germany, it looked a good bet. Unfortunately it fell short of my expectations.

The film is based on the autobiographical book by Stefanie Zweig, who recounted her childhood experiences growing up in Kenya during WW2. In the film the Jewish Redlich family are forced to flee Germany due to Nazi persecution. The father Walter is already in Africa and is followed out by his wife Zettel and daughter Regina. Zettel struggles to adapt to a poverty ridden alien environment and life is not easy for the refugees. The relationship between husband and wife becomes strained. But Regina takes to the new life like a duck to water. As the family's fortunes fluctuate with the advent of war, the magic of Africa begins to weave its spell on Zettel. Difficult decisions must be made.

The film is ravishingly shot, and those with a love of Africa, and I count myself as one, will be delighted with some of the picture postcard scenes. The dark continent is one that assails you with its myriad sights, sounds and vibrant life. In the forties, it was also one where the gulf between the white farmers and the Kenyan tribesman was vast, and this is something that the film does address. Unfortunately it fails to address other issues, such as the relationship between Walter and Jettel, which another reviewer has already pointed out. It is up and down like a yo yo and never fully explained. The impact of the holocaust is also touched upon, but its true impact can never begin to be imagined from the exotic climes of Kenya. The film runs for 141 rather long minutes. Without any real drama it struggles to retain your attention, and in my case it was hard to stop the eyelids drooping. The film would have been better made into a TV series, which would have enabled it to explore character in more detail, and which suits its format. Elspeth Huxley's excellent and evocative autobiographical book "The Flame Trees of Thika", also about her childhood in Kenya, was made into a successful TV series in 1981 by Thames Television. As it is, it appears to be more a poor mans "Out of Africa", although it is clear a lot of money went into its production. Unlike the book where the daughter takes centre stage, in the film it is Juliane Kohler as the mother who is the central character around whom the film revolves. She has the required charisma, and it should be said the sex appeal that the role demanded. The ending which I shall not spoil has perhaps the films strongest scene, which says a lot about the true heart of Africa.

I can only speak truthfully about my personal views of this film. I found the whole experience a bit like staring at a wall for over two hours. Not the best use of time! But it should be added that the wall was beautifully decorated. For those that have a love of Africa, and do not wish to be anything other than effortlessly entertained, then they may well enjoy this. Those wishing for a strong storyline who want to be more cerebrally challenged may be disappointed.
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