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BMZ Review: Horses: The Story of Equus
By Herb Lash

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Horses: The Story of Equus
Written by: Herb Lash
Source: Big Movie Zone
Date: June 2002

     

Category: Reviews

Horses can be enjoyed in so many ways. Riding is certainly high up on the list of things to do with a horse. Drawing, painting and filming horses have proved durable pastimes over the years. Many are the Parisians who can guide you to their favorite restaurant for a fine horse steak – yes, horses are beloved throughout the world. More than a few recent and planned films (LF and mainstream) seek to tap into this vast audience of horse lovers. SPIRIT, BLACK BEAUTY, MAJESTIC WHITE HORSES and most recently HORSES: THE STORY OF EQUUS have all bet on horse power for ticket sales. Perhaps it is time for horses to be more guarded in the films they choose to star in. The best that can be said of EQQUUS is that it was made by people who love horses.

Three horses are born (Bay, Black and Chestnut) and three horse lives unfold. This simple and good enough premise never quite reaches the level of storytelling. The film is not much more than a loose and extended montage. Day-in-the-life scenes of a race track horse, a back to nature horse and a film stunt horse are strung together with bits of awkward dramatization. The Black manages to pull off an unseen about face within his trailer and explode past his dumbfounded handlers in a burst for freedom. Meanwhile, the stunt horse Bay is off saving the day as all hell breaks loose in a barn fire – it is difficult to describe how particularly odd and cheesy these scenes really are.

This is not to say that EQQUUS is without a few wonderful moments – Giant Screen sight and sound hammer home the beauty that is a race horse thundering around the bend at full stride. The Black’s attempt to join a free running herd is enlightening and even a bit fantastical. And Gabriel Byrne’s cool/understated voice over gives things a much needed touch of style. But stagy and preposterous scenes outnumber the well crafted moments. EQQUUS: STORY OF THE HORSE will well please the unconditional horse lover – the kind who forgives everything and demands little.

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