Healing of the Souls
The Horse Whisperer, which was released by Touchstone Pictures in 1998, is based on the best selling novel by Nicholas Evans. The drama that not only stars Robert Redford, but is also directed and produced by him, is about a fourteen year old girl named Grace that is left disabled after a horrifying accident that involves her and her friend. The accident happens while they are riding their horses’ one early winter morning. Redford steps in as Tom Booker (a renowned “Horse Whisperer”) and attempts to heal both the physical and emotional problems that occurred during this accident.
I believe the theme of the movie is about the healing of the souls. “Every creature needs healing in order to get on with the business of living”(Schwarzbaum 44). Whispering is “the ability to look into one’s eyes and touch their soul”(Evans). People have to decide what is important to them in their lives and try not to loose sight of this. In The Horse Whisperer it seems that Grace’s mother Annie is so wrapped up in her career that her family is last on her priority list. When the accident occurs, she gets a rude awakening and attempts to make up for not really being there. At the hospital she wants to make sure that her daughter gets the best treatment and she “wants to get to know all of the nurses names”(Evans). The helplessness that a parent feels when they can’t save their child from pain is like no other feeling. When Annie sees her daughter’s leg amputated, it drives her ambition to help her to be whole again. Grace and Pilgrim both become withdrawn and angry and Annie feels that if she “gets the help for the horse she will also be helping Grace”(Ebert). While searching on the Internet Annie finds Tom Booker who is considered to be a ” Horse Whisperer” and she calls on him for his help. In telling her that “he doesn’t help people with horse problems he helps horses with people problems”(Evans), she packs up Grace and Pilgrim and heads toward unknown territory. As the physical and emotional injuries begin to heal in Grace and Pilgrim, Annie starts to heal herself. She transforms from the high-powered magazine editor into a woman that realizes there is more to life than just being powerful in the business world.
The technical elements in the opening scenes are “brutal and beautifully choreographed”(Giles 74). The way Redford used the camera angles to bring the accident to life was chilling. Throughout the movie there are many examples of the way lighting and camera angles help in the way the story is portrayed. Another meaningful moment in the movie is the way “the camera captured the way they touch and hold eachother that clearly and eloquently express their intimacy”(Apollo).
In researching The Horse Whisperer I found the critics to be generally in favor of the movie. The Apollo Guide states that “what works well in The Horse Whisperer, works VERY well”(531). On the other hand, one of Newsweek’s reviewers says “it’s punishingly dull for fully half of it’s two hours and 45 minutes”(Giles 74). He also states that “Redford has radically altered the novel’s soap-operatic ending”(Giles 74). In another review in Entertainment Weekly, one reviewer says it is “very awe-inspiring” (Schwarzbaum 44). They all seem to like the movie except for the fact “that the story moves a little too slowly”(Ebert). He also proceeds to say that “‘The Horse Whisperer’ treads on the brink of contrivance, but the honesty of it’s feelings pulls it through”(Ebert). In reading these reviews it is a wonder that it became such a success. It just proves that everyone needs to judge for himself or herself.
In conclusion, in watching this movie I was touched by the inspiring way that Grace dealt with the amputation of her leg. It just goes to show that we all have what it takes inside of us, it just sometimes takes someone else to help us see it. It is hard for me to relate to this because I have never had anything so tragic happen to me in my life.
Apollo Guide Review. On line movie rev. The Horse Whisperer 18 April 2000. http://apolloguide.com/mov_fullrev.asp?cid=531.
The Horse Whisperer. Dir. Robert Redford. Touchstone Pictures, 1998.
Giles, Jeff. “Whisper While You Work.” Rev. of The Horse Whisperer, dir. Robert Redford. Newsweek 18 May 1998: 74.
Maltin, Leonard, ed. Leonard Maltin’s Movie and Video Guide. 1999 ed. New York: Plume, 1998.
Schwarzbaum, Lisa. “Saddle Soap.” Rev. of The Horse Whisperer, dir. Robert Redford. Entertainment Weekly 22 May 1998: 44.