A Far Off Place (aka Far Off Place and Kalahari) is a 1993 American adventure drama film based on Laurens van der Post's works A Far-Off Place (1974) and its prequel, A Story Like the Wind (1972). The film stars Reese Witherspoon, Ethan Randall, Jack Thompson and Maximilian Schell.[N 1]

A Far Off Place
Directed byMikael Salomon
Produced byEva Monley
Elaine Sperber
Frank Marshall (executive producer)
Kathleen Kennedy (executive producer)
Gerald R. Molen (executive producer)
Written byLaurens Van der Post
Robert Caswell
Jonathan Hensleigh
Sally Robinson
David M. Evans
Music byJames Horner
CinematographyJuan Ruiz Anchía
Edited byRay Lovejoy
Distributed byBuena Vista Pictures
Release date
  • March 12, 1993 (1993-03-12)
Running time
108 minutes
CountryUnited States
Box office$12.9 million[1]


Against his wishes, spoiled New York boy Harry Winslow (Ethan Randall) accompanies his father (Daniel Gerroll) to the Kalahari desert in Africa to spend time with family acquaintances Paul (Robert John Burke) and Elizabeth Parker (Patricia Kalember). As he struggles to adjust to life without the technologies and amusements of home, Harry clashes with the Parkers’ spirited daughter, Nonnie (Reese Witherspoon), who wishes to follow in Paul's footsteps as a wildlife commissioner fighting against Africa's elephant poachers. That night, Nonnie and the family dog, Hintza, sneak out of the house to meet Nonnie's bushman friend, Xhabbo (Sarel Bok). Harry follows them to a cave, where they spend the night to recover Xhabbo's strength after he is attacked by a leopard.

At dawn, Nonnie hears gunshots and runs back to the house to discover that her parents and Harry's father have been murdered for investigating the export of ivory, a poaching operation secretly run by Paul Parker's associate, John Ricketts (Jack Thompson). As poachers plunder the house, Ricketts realizes Nonnie and Harry are missing. Remaining out of sight, Nonnie grabs explosives from the garage and attaches them to the bottom of their truck, killing several of Ricketts’ men. She flees to the cave and Xhabbo advises them to “follow the wind” by heading west across the Kalahari Desert. On the edge of the desert, Xhabbo communicates with a herd of elephants and convinces them to cover their tracks by following behind. Harry is furious to learn they have 2,000 miles to travel before reaching the seaport of Karlstown, but Nonnie remains optimistic.

Meanwhile, the Parkers’ close friend, Colonel Mopani Theron (Maximilian Schell), learns of the attack and, unaware of Ricketts' involvement, orders Ricketts to lead an aerial search party to find the missing people. Although Harry attempts to flag down the helicopter as it soars overhead, Nonnie worries they could be poachers and instructs her companions to hide. As a trick, the children remove their clothes, stuff them with straw, and lay them in the sand. Nonnie watches in horror as Ricketts pulls out his gun and shoots the fake bodies until he believes they are dead.

Over the next two months, the runaways dig up plant roots for sustenance, and Xhabbo teaches Harry how to speak his native language and hunt gemsbok. During this time, Col. Theron remains convinced that the Parkers’ death was a corporate conspiracy, and continues his tireless search for the exporters’ store of elephant tusks, which he believes will lead him to the murderer.

At Xhabbo's encouragement, Harry presents Nonnie with a vest made from gemsbok pelt. That night, Nonnie and Harry mourn the loss of their parents and share a hug. Near a remote general store, the owner's hunting dogs chase the fugitives across a gorge, but they escape with only minor injuries.

A few days later, Ricketts meets a buyer at the same shop and notices that the owner is in possession of Nonnie's necklace, which she lost in the scuffle. Suspecting the people are still alive, Ricketts kills his right-hand man for failing to ensure the bodies were buried. As Nonnie, Harry, and Xhabbo succumb to the heat of the desert sun, a scorpion stings Xhabbo. He tells his friends to continue without him, but Nonnie and Harry insist they stay together. When Nonnie wanders off in search of water, she collapses in the sand. Hearing the hum of Ricketts’ approaching helicopter, Nonnie and Xhabbo weakly thump their chests in the spiritual Bushman practice of “tapping,” which summons a sandstorm that forces Ricketts to flee.

Unaware they are only a few yards away from the Atlantic coast, the three young people fall unconscious and awaken in a Karlstown hospital. There, Nonnie is reunited with Col. Theron and informs him that Ricketts was responsible for her parents’ deaths. Once they recover, Nonnie and Harry accompany Col. Theron to Ricketts’ mining facility, where they find his hoard of elephant tusks.

Nonnie insists the remains must be buried, and they begin to rig the facility with dynamite when Ricketts arrives to stop them. Harry traps Ricketts under a pile of tusks, and Nonnie holds him at gunpoint, but cannot shoot. Together, they lead the perpetrator outside and light the fuse. Unable to see his fortune destroyed, Ricketts runs back into the mine in an attempt to extinguish the flame, but the dynamite explodes and buries him beneath the rock.

Sometime later, Nonnie and Harry say goodbye to Xhabbo, who returns to the Kalahari. Harry kisses Nonnie before boarding an aircraft home to New York, and Nonnie tells him to leave without looking back. However, as she and Col. Theron begin cleaning the charred remains of the Parker home, Harry returns, and the people embrace.



Principal photography on A Far Off Place began on May 26, 1992. Filming took place in Namibia and Zimbabwe between May and September 1992. A Far Off Place marked the directorial debut for cinematographer Mikael Salomon.[3]

The aircraft in A Far Off Place were:


Film historian and reviewer Leonard Maltin in his account, had mixed reactions to the storyline. While he considered the plot "Borderline-slow but head-on straight", he worried that the "frank treatment of death makes this iffy for young kids, but older children should find it rewarding."[5]

See alsoEdit



  1. ^ A Far Off Place was Reese Witherspoon's first feature-length film; previously she had roles in made-for-television films.[2]


  1. ^ "Box Office Data: 'A Far Off Place'." The Numbers, June 16, 2014.
  2. ^ "Filmography: Reese Witherspoon." IMDb, 2019. Retrieved: September 2, 2019.
  3. ^ "Notes: 'A Far Off Place' (1993)." TCM, 20198. Retrieved: September 2, 2019.
  4. ^ Santoir, Christian. "Review: 'A Far Off Place'." Aeromovies, March 17, 2018. Retrieved: September 2, 2019.
  5. ^ Maltin 2011, p. 443.


  • Maltin, Leonard, ed. Leonard Maltin's 2012 Movie Guide. New York: New American Library, 2011 (originally published as TV Movies, then Leonard Maltin’s Movie & Video Guide), First edition 1969, published annually since 1988. ISBN 978-0-451-23447-6.

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