This is a moving, sumptuously photographed "fish out of water" story. In the 1930's a family of Jews with a young daughter leave Germany knowing what the Nazis are planning. The husband, a lawyer, becomes a working-class farm manager in rural Kenya. The wife, a lover of luxury, is immediately disenchanted about her change in circumstances. Their daughter takes up with the local children and becomes tied into local customs and friendships. They are served by a proud local cook who adopts the daughter as one of his own.
During the course of the movie the war in Europe starts and the local British colonial government rounds up the German citizens for internment even though they are not Nazi supporters. And the daughter is sent away to an all-white boarding school where she has her first taste of anti-Semitism.
The movie is somewhat long but the people and situations are so cleanly and beautifully presented that it holds your interest. The relationship between the husband and wife is rocky. He decides to return to Germany after the war while his family resists, having grown to love Africa. The situations are low-key but real.
I rather thought that the interplay of emotions displayed on screen was related somehow to the use of light and shadow in the gorgeous photography. Much of the story takes place by fire- or lantern-light. During the day, the sky and outdoor natural colors, with mountains in the distance, hold our attention. Perhaps the view of Africa shown is romanticized and prettified; I have no way of knowing. But what is shown is how the people moved there by fate take to the land and make it and the people their own. This is fascinating to watch and is a very human and involving story.
In German; the yellow English subtitles are very easy to read.