Of Horses and Men (2013)

June 10th, 2014
Author: Meredith Taylor

Director: Benedikt Erlingsson

Cast: Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson, Charlotte Boving, Helgi Bjornsson

81mins   Drama Comedy

Horses are the stars of Benedikt Erlingsson’s raw and startling debut which was Iceland’s submission to the 2014 Academy Awards. In a remote Icelandic location, a community of earthy horse-breeders live hand in glove with their beasts, attuned to the animals’ needs that often mirror their own physical urges and desires. This is illustrated in darkly amusing episodes: a man (Ingvar  Sigurdsson) decides to pay a courting visit to his female neighbour (Charlotte Boving) riding his perfectly trained white mare. The woman’s frisky stallion pre-empts matters in a way that’s both hilarious and deeply embarrassing for all concerned. Another man (Steinn Armann Magnusson) rides his horse into the sea where they both boldly swim out to a Russian trawler, begging the captain for vodka.  There’s a raw savageness to these staggering events which feel natural yet strangely bizarre; taking us by surprise.

Of Horses and Men captures the sensitive but feral nature of the horses living in symbiosis with their (at times) equally wild owners in this remote and magnificent landscape.  Even the minimal dialogue seems redundant in a narrative told expressively through lenser Bergsteinn Bjoergulfsson’s extraordinary images: each vignette is introduced in the close-up of a horse’s eye. Erlingsson never loses his sense of humour in conveying the quirkiness of his Icelandic characters who perform with consummate ease and gracefulness in complete harmony with the animals they train and nurture.

David Thor Jonsson’s rousing original score is played on traditional European instruments. MT

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Winner – Best New Director – San Sebastian 2013


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