A superbly crafted family film for animal lovers, “The Silver Brumby” should earn solid coin during school vacations everywhere and have a long video life.
Pic is based on a book written in the 1950s by a single mother for her teenage daughter, and the filmmakers have retained the original period, although this is really a timeless story of the life of a legendary wild horse (or brumby).
Elyne Mitchell’s story is inspired by real events occurring in the spectacularly beautiful Victorian High Country where she lives with her daughter.
However, Mitchell embellishes the truth for dramatic effect as she tells of a silver brumby stallion who quickly learns the ways of survival in the wild and who eventually replaces his father as leader of a pack of wild horses that roams the mountains.
Simple tale has the Man (Russell Crowe), a mountain horseman, coveting the magnificent silver stallion and trying to capture it. Later, he pays a large sum of money for a mare, which the stallion later rescues from captivity. In revenge , the Man and a tracker set out to capture the stallion once and for all, and yarn ends as the stuff of legend, with the silver brumby now a ghost horse that haunts the mountain ranges.
Most of the film is taken up with magnificently staged and photographed footage of the horses in their natural environment. Filming took place over a year around Mount Hotham and Dinner Plain in Victoria, and cinematographer Mark Gilfedder has breathtakingly captured the rugged beauty of the High Country. Major kudos are clearly due horse trainer Evanne Chesson.
The human actors have less to do but acquit themselves well. Russell Crowe, in a very different role from the one he essayed in “Romper Stomper,” is excellent as the tenacious bushman. Caroline Goodall brings sensitivity to the role of the lonely woman, and Ami Daemion is charming as her strong-willed daughter.
Director and co-writer John Tatoulis (whose previous feature was the underrated private eye thriller “In Too Deep”) sensibly doesn’t try to beef up the uncomplicated story with contrived narrative. There are thrilling scenes, not least a stunning helicopter shot that reveals the stallion and the men hunting it down galloping straight toward a cliff.
The unusual but strikingly apt music score by Tassos Ioannides is a major asset. All other tech credits are excellent.