Equus is an excellent example of film-as-theatre. Peter Shaffer’s play, which he adapted for the screen, has become under Sidney Lumet’s outstanding direction a moving confrontation between a crudely mystical Peter Firth and the psychiatrist (Richard Burton), who is trying to unravel the boy’s mind.
The (screen) story is properly oriented to that of a suspense yarn: why did Firth blind Harry Andrews’ horses? Judge Eileen Atkins wants Burton to find out. In the process, Burton discerns the boy’s transference of extremely physical religious devotion to Jesus, to the spirit Equus as embodied in horses.
Jenny Agutter is excellent as the young girl whose plausible emotional attitudes trigger the boy’s outrage at his personal deity.
1977: Nominations: Best Actor (Richard Burton), Supp. Actor (Peter Firth), Adapted Screenplay