This Week in New York Insider's Guide to Arts & Culture in New York City Since 2001

23Mar/14

NEW DIRECTORS / NEW FILMS 2014: OF HORSES AND MEN

OF HORSES AND MEN

Human nature is explored through the eyes of horses in wildly entertaining Icelandic tale

OF HORSES AND MEN (HROSS Í OSS) (Benedikt Erlingsson, 2013)
Film Society of Lincoln Center, Walter Reade Theater
165 West 65th St. between Eighth Ave. & Broadway
Monday, March 24, 6:30
Series runs through March 30
212-875-5050
www.newdirectors.org

Iceland’s entry for the 2013 Academy Awards, Benedikt Erlingsson’s black comedy, Of Horses and Men, takes an absurdist look at the relationship between humans and horses, incorporating love, sex, pain, responsibility, friendship, religion, and death in darkly comic and heart-rending ways. In a tight-knit community spread across a sweeping rural landscape in Iceland, horses are far more plentiful than people. One morning, Kolbeinn (Ingvar E. Sigurdsson) goes for a ride aboard his gorgeous white mare as men, women, and children come outside to watch him pass by like it’s a parade. But a shocking, unexpected encounter with Solveig’s (Charlotte Bøving) black stallion sets into motion a series of interconnected vignettes, each successive one featuring a minor character from a previous scene. Lust, land disputes, gender distinction, and other agreements and disagreements lead to either tragedy or joy, but, of course, this being Iceland, the former is far more prevalent, especially as more and more Brennivin (Black Death) and other drink is consumed. Writer-director Erlingsson’s debut feature is gorgeously photographed by Bergsteinn Björgúlfsson, whose camera moves lovingly over the green fields and mountainous valleys, treating the horses like Hollywood sirens, zooming in on their eyes to show the reflection of the people who seek to control them, equating the basic animal instincts of both species. The horses in the film are no mere props; Erlingsson, who grew up in a theatrical family and has directed numerous stage productions (in addition to owning a horse, whom he called his “life companion,” for thirty years until recently having to put her down), treats the animals like characters in their own right, revealing their, dare we say, humanity. Produced by Icelandic cinema legend Friðrik Þór Friðriksson (Children of Nature, Mamma Gógó), Of Horses and Men is a dark, wildly entertaining treatise on human nature among a rather quirky and unusual equestrian set. The film is being shown March 24 at 6:30 at the Walter Reade Theater as part of Lincoln Center and MoMA’s annual “New Directors / New Films” series, with Erlingsson on hand to participate in a postscreening Q&A.

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