Aug 14, 2012

A Far-Off Place: Bonding in the Kalahari

In the Disney movie A Far Off Place (1993), pragmatic outback girl Nonni (16-year old Reese Witherspoon) and stuck-up city boy Harry (15-year old Ethan Randall) are the only survivors when poachers attack the gamekeeper's farm in Zimbabwe.  With the killers pursuing them, their only chance is to cross the Kalahari desert, along with the Bushman Xhabbo (Sarel Bok) and a dog.

It's a long, dangerous journey, requiring teamwork, courage, and sacrifice.  They must all depend on each other to survive.

It has all happened before, in Walkabout (1971), and it would happen again, in Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog  (1995), starring Jesse Bradford,  and in about a dozen other "trapped in the wilderness" movies but the lush score and striking African scenery almost make up for the hackneyed plot.

Gay-vague Harry never displays the least romantic interest in Nonni, but he does seem to like Xhabbo's spare, muscular physique.  However, Xhabbo does not express any romantic interest in either of them (in the original novel by Laurens Van Der Post, Xhabbo's wife comes along, but here she is absent).

One expects Harry and Nonni to hook up at the end -- in Disney movies there's always a fade-out kiss -- but not here.

Ethan Randall (later Ethan Embry) was a well-known child star (appearing here with Chevy Chase in Vegas Vacation).  He would go on to play several gay characters, including Reese Witherspoon's best friend in Sweet Home Alabama (2002).

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