The Horse Whisperer

Grace (Johansson) and Pilgrim

Director: Robert Redford
Writer: Nicholas Evans (Novel)
Released: 1998

I am a sucker for any great horse film – such as Black Beauty, but unlike War Horse.
And The Horse Whisperer is certainly way up there in terms of lack of soppiness, being accurate in the training and horse terms as well as having a strong sense of realism.

So it begins in the most idyllic farm blanketed in thick snow. Grace (the young Scarlett Johansson) puts her riding boots on and tip toes out of the house. She sees he friend over in the next field and yells “HELLO!!” with steam coming from her mouth and her voice echoing. “HELLOOO!!” her friend replies and they run toward each other, then make their way to the stables.

This is my idea of paradise which is why this film starts out on an instant high.

Grace (Johansson) on Pilgrim and Judith (Kate Bosworth) on Gulliver riding through the idyllic snow…

The thing that stood out for me was the acuracy in the training techniques. The Horse Whisperer is based on a training system called Natural Horsemanship where the rider asks the horse for submission, acceptance and softness.

Obviously the reactions of the horse is not always particularly realistic, nor would the lack of time spent on Pilgrim result in the horse becoming totally cured. However, I think we are all grown up to accept that this is a film which has certainly taken the horse’s reactions into consideration, without it becoming an instructional video of how to train your horse.

Tom Booker (Robert Redford) helping Grace ride Pilgrim for the first time after the devastating accident

The accident – which I shan’t give away – was filmed so well! And when I say that it was filmed well, I mean insatiablely exquisitely well! I can’t even put my finger on how they did it… Perhaps they really did get a horse to do all of the stunts or perhaps they got away with realistic dummies due to the many quick edited shots. Anyway. I almost don’t want to know because it was so convincing.

The epic music is as incredible as Titanic and Black Beauty. I blame the music for my constant blubbering throughout the entire film…

I remember when I last watched this and I felt like there wasn’t enough of the horse’s story in it. However, this was about ten or so years ago and I am rather thankful that a parallel storyline of how humans interact and accept each other was weaved throughout. The love story is strong and does not take from the overall story of the horse’s journey through recovery.

Tom Booker (Redford) and Grace’s mum Annie (Kristen Scott Thomas) – the love story

You kind of get to know how cruelly we treat each other, how trauma affects people differently and how we listen and communicate with each other through the recovery of the horse. It’s really quite deep.

The end of the story is unexpected… But I can’t decide if it was in a good way or not. Everything is concluded except for the love story which I was eager to know more about.

After watching this I wanted to buy a ranch in Southern America so badly! Get a horse and go out riding for days. It made horseriding look incredibly natural – which I suppose it isn’t really – with big western saddles, loose reins and calm canters over the endless hills. A fantastically jolting contrast between the uncontained farm land and the claustrophobic New York City show within the film.

A fantastic watch for any horse lover or lover of deep emotion-driven films. I enjoyed the culture of the farm in the south.

Robert Redford has style! So keep an eye out for the use of shadows and colour.
A film that is very well done.

Jodie’s rating: 8.5/10

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About Jodie (NZ Film Freak)

I am a journalism graduate (2014) from New Zealand. I enjoy writing on my blog about films and songs, plus the odd random thought. Currently working as a writer in UK. Follow me on Twitter @NZFilmFreak and like my Facebook page NZ Film Freak. Follow my travels around the world www.jodiehart.co.nz
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9 Responses to The Horse Whisperer

  1. Great film, pretty well paced with lots of God shots showing fantastic scenery. Worth watching.

  2. don says:

    what was the meaning of the two cuff links and did she leave the horse behind at the end of the film

  3. horse exercises says:

    I’m really enjoying the design and layout of your website. It’s a very easy on
    the eyes which makes it much more pleasant for me to come here and visit more often.
    Did you hire out a developer to create your theme? Excellent work!

    • nzfilmfreak says:

      Hey thank you so much! No, it’s just a standard theme on the WordPress Blogging site. I took the photos and organised everything else within the template. The one I use is called “Twenty Ten”.

      Thanks again,
      Connie.

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