Horses: The Story of Equus

A big, beautiful species gets bigger and more beautiful in "Horses: The Story of Equus," an Australian quasi-docu that charts three steeds' separate paths from pony-hood to jobbing for mankind -- or not, in one case.

A big, beautiful species gets bigger and more beautiful in “Horses: The Story of Equus,” an Australian quasi-docu that charts three steeds’ separate paths from pony-hood to jobbing for mankind — or not, in one case. Splendid Victoria and New South Wales scenery abets the splendor of the four-legged stars, making this a large-format attraction sure to perform well in Imax venues worldwide.

Gabriel Byrne’s dulcet tones well-suit the slightly awed narration that briefly backgrounds equine history before settling into the almost-imperceptibly staged stories of three purebreds born on the same Aussie ranch. After a year, each is sold at auction. A chestnut mare is trained for the racetrack, eventually doing well after an injury. A bay proves too temperamental for show jumping, then bonds with a second, movie-stuntman owner and rescues the stuntman (in a pretty hokey sequence) from an on-set fire. Lastly, a black stallion bursts out of its trailer during a drive to a stud farm — running free in the wilderness in pic’s most spectacular and engrossing segs. Celtic-flavored score seems a routine choice, but that aside, featurette is beautifully mounted and nicely paced.

Horses: The Story of Equus

Imax--Australian

Production: An Imax presentation of an Equus Film Prods. production. Produced by Liz Butler, Michael Caulfield. Executive producers, Caulfield, Mikael Borglund, Rainer Mockert. Directed, written by Michael Caulfield.

Crew: Camera (color, 70mm Imax), Tom Cowan; editor, Melanie Sandford; music, Roger Mason; art director, Robbie Perkins. Reviewed at Montreal World Film Festival (Ultimate Imax), Aug. 28, 2002. Running time: 42 MIN.

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