Nowhere in Africa /

Rated: R

Starring: Juliane KŲhler, Regine Zimmermann, Merab Ninidze, Karoline Eckertz, Matthias Habich 

Directed by: Caroline Link 

Produced by: Peter Hermann, Peter Herrmann 

Written by: Caroline Link 

Distributor: Zeitgeist Films

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Movie Image
Movie Image

     A dazzling spectacle of love, loss, life, liberty, and adaptation, Nowhere in Africa is a brilliant tapestry of cinematic beauty. This is a film about the holocaust, similar to Life is Beautiful, that is often gleeful and cheery, even though there are mass quantities of chronic depression in its content. The liveliness of the excellent cinematography, as well as the beautifully written perspectives of the hopeful characters make the rather melancholy moods more uplifting, once resolved. Nowhere in Africa runs a whopping two hours and twenty minutes, and could definitely be called epic, but we donít feel as though it is very long. The subtitles, which I usually dread, became non-existent after a half an hour had gone byóas if I could fully comprehend the German and Swahili languages. Nowhere in Africa is stunning, simply stunning.

     Itís 1939, in Germany, just before the Second World War has begun. Jettel Redlich (Juliane KŲhler) and her daughter Regina (Karoline Eckertz) are Jewish; very frightful of the obstacles that lie ahead of them. But these obstacles donít involve the terrible things that the Naziís are going to do to the Jews during the war. These obstacles lie in Kenya, Africa.

     Jettelís husband, Walter (Merab Ninidze), is already in Kenya. She and her daughter will soon leave Germany, for Africa, in order to escape from the Naziís. After all is said and done, they reach their destination, and Walter is in his new home of Africa to welcome them, smiling and affectionate. But Jettel doesnít like Africa one bit. She and her family are in a place called nowhere, amidst the sands of the desert, and traditional natives. She says she would like to go back to Germany, even though this is stated without much though. Jettel doesnít realize the horrible things that the Naziís are putting her people through just yet. Will she be able to adapt to Africa? Whatís to come of her family in the future?

     Nowhere in Africaís best feature is undoubtedly the cinematography; it was snubbed of a nomination at the Academy Awards. Gernot Rollís beautiful work is dazzling. There is such intricacy to the overhead shots of the African savanna; we gaze at them as if they are actually in front of us in reality, and not just on a movie screen. The camera weaves in and out, from location to location, in a brilliant manor. Nowhere in Africa is a spectacle of impressive features. I was fully amazed at its simple power. This is a soulful film. I could stare at it for an eternity.

     The score, by Niki Reiser, is haunting. Its infrequent uses are perfectly positioned throughout the film. The piece blends wonderfully with each scene, even though it wouldnít seem so, to the naked ear. By itself, the composition really, isnít that amazing. But the way it blends with the film is so shockingly perfect, one cannot deny that this is another area that Nowhere in Africa was robbed in at the Oscars. This strengthens the meaning of this emotionally heart wrenching film. An extravagant, epic portrait of life and its relationship to persecution, Nowhere in Africa is near perfect, even though it sadly, will not be remembered by many because of the small release.

     The writing is also one of the most stupendous features in Nowhere in Africa. This film is a multidimensional character study, which examines the way personalities evolve while adapting to a changing surrounding. This evidence is mainly reflected in Jettel and how she changes, according to her new home. She escapes from the persecution of the Naziís, yet when she comes to Africa she persecutes the natives. She wants to move back to her home because she is not able to get used to the chronic change Africa brings, yet her homeland of Germany is the victim of change. We see abuse of power and superiority via her character, whether she be the one misusing it, or the victim of it herself. Her emotions and love unravel in the film, shockingly perfectly. This depth in the picture is derived through the magnificent and inspired writing. Nowhere in Africa is a monumental achievement.

     A superfluous film, Nowhere in Africa skyrockets its way into being one of the best films in release at this time, and one of the best foreign films of the year. This is an epic journey, free of any big, physical battles or special effects. This movie shows us that superior dialogue is where the heart of cinema lies. The extravagance of Nowhere in Africa is whatís appreciable. Its divine ways of showing philosophical viewpoints in film are superb. Touching, inspiring, and simply beautiful, this is a journey worth taking, and the yearís best so far at that.

-Danny, Bucket Reviews


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