The Lion Queen
I Dreamed of Africa
Review by Ross Anthony

A single American woman living in Italy with her six-year-old son experiences the tragedies and epiphanies of life as a human on Earth and writes about them. "I Dreamed of Africa" is the biographical drama of Kuki Gallmann's writings put to film.

Quickly sketching Kuki's life in Italy, the picture provides no prior information about her; in fact, it wasn't until three-quarters into the sequence that I realized what country we were in. The Italian unit had other problems: abrupt editing, inappropriate music, severely misaligned voice-lip sync (the presentation sounded as if it had been dubbed into English), and the graceless capture of Kim Basinger's acting at its worst.

Fortunately, the production soon moves to Africa ... Kenya, to be specific (with some shooting done in South Africa as well). Though visual joys of this vibrant country are portrayed, mostly in the sweeping landscapes and aerial photography of elephants, wildebeest and camels (I didn't know camels roamed Kenya); the majority of the film's attentions were on the uncertainties, dangers and ultimate price of living in a wilder environment.

I've enjoyed Kim Basinger in the past; she's a moderately talented actress whose marvelous beauty hasn't been impeded by age. However, either this film fails to snare her best performances or she's just not main character material.

The writing itself is a bit immature, lavishing in the cliché: "I've never been here and yet I feel as though I've returned." While the ending narration tends toward the presumptuous, as Kuki "Looks after Africa" via conservation propaganda.

What the film does best is depict the unpredictable rhythm and dangerous allure of Africa. Having spent a year in Kenya myself, I enjoyed the nostalgia. Still, this experience could have been improved by doubling the usage of the fantastic, indigenous, vocal music available and by deepening the relationships between ex-pats and locals.

Though the film focuses on Kuki's loves and losses, the most passionately endearing moments of the film involve Simon, her African assistant (a character who, unfortunately, sees little screen time).

  • I Dreamed of Africa. Copyright © 2000. Rated PG-13.
  • Starring Kim Basinger, Vincent Perez, Eva Marie Saint, Liam Aiken.
  • Directed By Hugh Hudson.
  • Screenplay by Paula Milne & Susan Shilliday. Based on writings By Kuki Gallmann.
  • Produced By Stanley R. Jaffe and Allyn Stewart at Columbia TriStar.


Copyright © 2000. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit:

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 08:07:43 PDT