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Drama Movies

February 7 2018 Drama Movies Newsletter

"I wanted to portray a horse saving a human being. It comes from mythology, but it is also the product of true stories. The grandfather of one of my friends saved himself like this in 1952: he killed his horse and got inside it to spend the night. Even Napoleon’s soldiers in Russia did it to save themselves from the cold." Writer-director Benedikt Erlingsson

The scene Erlingsson describes above is from his debut feature as a director, "Of Horses and Men". I write about the film in this week's featured review (in which I highlight the remarkable way Erlingsson choreographed this scene) and it is part of my continuing series "The Horse in Cinema".

Erlingsson treats the horses as equal characters. This is demonstrated early in the film when the camera stays on a man's horse while he enters a home. Traditionally, the camera would follow the human being or cut directly to the interior scene. Erlingsson stays outside with the animal and a crucial plot point arises from the animal's behavior. Also, Erlingsson uses dialogue sparingly. As many of you know, I am an admirer of silent film. A filmmaker who tells his/her story visually without a reliance on expository dialogue is true to the art form.

Screenwriting guru Robert McKee would disagree on this point, possibly. He is the author of "Dialogue: The Art of Verbal Action for Page, Stage, and Screen", published in 2016. McKee believes "the screenwriter is the only original artist on a film." Since cinema is a visual art form, I think McKee is mistaken in stating the cinematographer and director are only interpretive artists. The dialogue is subservient to the image, or should be.

Here's the latest article from the Drama Movies site at BellaOnline.com.

Of Horses and Men Film Review
Winner of the 2014 Nordic Film Council Prize. Writer-director Benedikt Erlingsson draws on his experience as a teenager working in the rural highlands of Iceland to craft this darkly comic film about the interdependence of the Icelandic Horse and its human companions.


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Angela K. Peterson, Drama Movies Editor

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