The Horse Whisperer Blu-ray Review
In 1998 Robert Redford directed an epic drama about a horse, a relationship between mother and daughter and a romance with the backdrop of the Montana range. THE HORSE WHISPERER was critically acclaimed and even garnered an Academy Award nomination for Best Music, Original Song for “A Soft Place to Fall”. Not surprisingly, this film was given a beautiful transfer onto Blu-ray, which made this writer’s first time viewing pretty breathtaking.
THE HORSE WHISPERER follows Grace MacLean (a young Scarlett Johansson), an equestrian who has a devastating accident with her horse, Pilgrim, that leaves her handicapped and the horse traumatized. To help her daughter overcome her fear and mentally heal, Annie (Kristen Scott Thomas) does some research and finds a Horse Whisperer by the name of Tom Booker (Robert Redford). Booker is known for being able to communicate with horses and help them get past their issues. Since Booker refuses to come to New York for the MacLean horse, Annie and Grace trek out to the far reaches of Montana with horse in tow, in hopes that Tom Booker will be able to perform a miracle.
Before we get down to the story and characters, it’s worth mentioning that the backdrop for this film was fantastically beautiful. Montana isn’t really one of the states in the US that gets a lot of love and attention, but THE HORSE WHISPERER made it one of this writers dream destinations. The gorgeous mountain ranges and striking sunsets were the highlight of this film and made the movie that much more enjoyable to watch.
THE HORSE WHISPERER had a lot of great moments, but if it had one fault it was that too much focus was given to Annie and Tom’s budding romance. Considering Annie was a unhappily married woman with an injured and mentally scarred daughter, the fact that she was unintentionally falling for the soft spoken rancher is understandable but unnecessary to the film. Instead of focusing on the healing of Grace as well as the broken relationship between her and her mother, the audience is forced to watch Annie and Tom go along in this romance that can in no way end well. We know she has to choose between breaking her husbands heart, who is obviously in love with her, or leaving the rugged rancher who is still trying to come to terms with falling in love after a divorce. If THE HORSE WHISPERER would have focused more on Grace, Annie and Pilgrim, then it would have been just as interesting and could have explored something not as commonly done in film. Instead, THE HORSE WHISPERER becomes more of a romance that has a bit of a bummer ending.
It should also be pointed out for those that are watching THE HORSE WHISPERER for the first time, the scene where Grace and Pilgrim are injured is one of the most horrific and emotional scenes I’ve ever seen on film. It would have been nice to have a heads up because it was completely startling and something that was a hurdle for this writer to get past the rest of the movie.
I really enjoyed THE HORSE WHISPERER and was happy to finally watch it, but doubt I will revisit it again in the near future. Watching these older catalog titles is a great way to see how far some of our favorite actors and actresses have come. I would definitely recommend checking it out if you missed it the first go around, just be sure to have a box of Kleenex close by.
Video: A beautiful transfer that makes you feel like you’re right there in Montana with the actors.
Audio: The audio sounded great.
Production Featurette (1:52): This is full of movie clips with a couple of cast and crew interviews. What’s funny is that it actually has a narrator, which is a little odd for a featurette like this. Not really worth watching unless you really love this film.
Robert Redford Featurette (1:32): Again with the narrator, it’s weird. However, this is another similar featurette but focuses more on Redford as a director. Very short and pretty much unnecessary.
Buck Brannaman Featurette(1:42): Buck Brannaman is a real life Horse Whisperer and who the character of Tom Booker was based on. Another short bit that’s full of more movie clips, but it’s interesting to see who the character was based on.
Allison Moorer “A Soft Place To Fall” Music Video