Mother’s Day – and horses in film

10 March – Mother’s Day (at least, it is in the UK – think it’s in May in the US AND they get a holiday). So, what to write in blog that’s (so far) mostly about film, horses and writing? Well, how about a film that begins with about a horse and foal?

[warning: some plot spoilers but really this is a film you see for the beauty of the wild horses in the film rather than the plot]

There’s a 1999 film Running Free, directed by Sergei Bodrov and set mostly in southern Africa before and during World War One, that starts with a horse birth scene.  The film opens with Lucky, a colt, being born on board a ship carrying horses from Germany to work in the mines in Namibia. Lucky will be the lead character in the film and his story is mostly told by voice-over, but the focus is on his mother in the early part of the film. Because of the unpredictability of when horses give birth (much the same range of unpredictability as with humans when there’s no medical intervention), a number of pregnant grey mares were recruited for the scene where he is born, and the film unit simply waited on stand-by at all hours for one of them to foal. The birth finally occurred one night during the third week of filming. That’s a lot of waiting. This documentary bit of filming was then edited into the scripted narrative of the film.

During the filming, Lucky was played by a total of ten horses in all, five of them foals who play young Lucky.  The use of voice-over to tell the story helps the audience to see the horse’s point of view and this at its most graphic when the ship finally docks in Africa. The first men Lucky sees are armed with whips and they are very brutal and frightening as they force the horses to swim to shore.

Later in the film, there’s quite a lot about the mother-foal bond. Both are desolated and frightened when they are separated.  At one point, he is briefly reunited with his mother – but the mine-owner’s evil stallion Caesar, knocks down Lucky’s mother and she dies. Much later, when Lucky has grown up and grown strong, Lucky manages to avenge his mother’s death: he defeats Caesar in a fight. And he wins over the filly, Beauty, Caesar’s daughter, as his mate.

Happy Mother’s Day All.

For more horses in film, see Lights! Camera! Gallop! at: http://tinyurl.com/horseinfilmstory

Advertisements