Voyage Voyage

Sydney Pollack's vast landscapes



Director Sydney Pollack was also a scenic artist, creating his cinema of emotions in the panorama of the Wild West or Africa.

Between past and present, Sydney Pollack's complex and compelling filmography was based on a recurring thread that he never ceased to tighten: the exploration of his own roots, contrasting the America of the Great Outdoors with contemporary America. Genuine hymns to nature, some of his films vividly exalted its majesty with panache, as if to better demonstrate the difference between two worlds. He naturally drew on the Western with characters like Jeremiah Johnson, one of his most personal endeavours, or Sonny Steele of The Electric Horseman. In a crowning conclusion to this admirable filmography of nature, Sydney Pollack created his romantic masterpiece, Out of Africa, a motion picture that swept seven Oscars and, in a single film, seemed to reunite all the elements that characterised the director's trajectory. 

JEREMIAH-JOHNSON Jeremiah Johnson, 1972

Mountains of Utah

After The Scalphunters (1968), an unusual picture shot with Burt Lancaster south of the Rocky Mountains in Arizona, Sydney Pollack would return to these beloved landscapes for Jeremiah Johnson (1972), a magnificent intimate western that marked the second collaboration between Robert Redford and the director (they would shoot together seven times). The movie recounts the story of a trapper in the hostile mountains in the middle of the 19th century, where Jeremiah Johnson sees his primal dream of returning to nature turn into a nightmare. The murder of his Indian wife, Swan, leads him to seek revenge against the Crow tribe. A true ode to the America of the Mountain men and raw savagery, the motion picture was shot in Utah, close to where the actor and director owned a home, and where Redford launched the Sundance Film Festival.


Also partially shot in Utah, The Electric Horseman (1979) opposes two contrasting Americas: the original, virginal America of the desert and urban America, symbolised by the sonic aggressiveness of Las Vegas, which the hero rides through in one of the film's most bizarre scenes. Sonny Steele (Robert Redford), a wandering horseman who abandons his ranch, is returned to his natural environment, rebecoming the cowboy of the great outdoors that he is, after having tried to survive in an environment that was not his own. He navigates a sweeping sierra, between the ghost town of Grafton and Zion National Park, with its towering sandstone walls and bright red and orange-hued domes.

Lights of Africa

Out of Africa, a magnificent sensual masterpiece set in Kenya, released in 1986, adapted from Karen Blixen's autobiographical novel, needs no introduction. Meryl Streep and Robert Redford form one of the most breathtaking couples ever to grace the screen, offering viewers an unforgettable image of the two lovers embracing in the setting sun, surrounded by the magnificent Oscar-winning score by John Barry (composer of the James Bond theme). Once again celebrating the raw brilliance of nature, Sydney Pollack captures the beauty of the African plains on film, in an ode to its warm lights, depicting the colonial atmosphere of the time with a remarkable sense of detail (the Nairobi of the era was entirely recreated). Here again, two worlds clash, and, like Condor in Three Days of the Condor (1975) or Sonny Steele, Robert Redford's character in Out of Africa embodies a simple, romantic figure fighting against the system, who becomes a hero despite himself.


Charlotte Pavard





“Vast landscapes” screenings:

The Scalphunters (1968, 1h43)UGC Ciné Cité Confluence Thu14 9:45pm | Lumière Terreaux Sat16 2:30pm

Jeremiah Johnson (1972, 1h48) New material (DCP, original version subtitled in French) created especially for the Lumière festival by Warner Bros.Pathé Bellecour Thu14 8pm | Comoedia Fri15 2:15pm | CinéDuchère Sat16 8:30pm | Lumière Institute Sun17 7:30pm

The Electric Horseman (1979, 2h01)
UGC Ciné Cité Confluence Wed13 11am

Out of Africa (1985, 2h41) New print restored by Universal PicturesDécines Thu 14 8pm | UGC Cité Internationale Sat16 8:30pm | UGC Ciné Cité Confluence Sun17 2:15pm


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