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A Man Called Horse

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Critics' Reviews

AMG Review
Craig Butler
A film that seems to have provided some inspiration for Dances with Wolves, A Man Called Horse has dated somewhat over the years but is still noteworthy for the exceptionally powerful performance that is at its center. As the titular character, Richard Harris gives a performance that is startling in its intensity and clarity. It's true that some of the peculiarities -- some might call them mannerisms -- that are part of the actor's individual style are still present, including a tendency to go from very quiet to very loud with no stops in between. But most of these characteristics are kept in tight control, and even when used, they are in service to the character and the script. More importantly, Harris truly lives the character that he is playing, making quite real, believable, and moving every moment of his journey. It's an extraordinary piece of acting, and it is the glue that holds Horse together. Despite Harris, many may find Horse rough going, not the least because of its sometimes graphic nature -- particularly in the Sun Vow Initiation section, which is extremely painful yet undeniably powerful. Some may also find that Horse doesn't always succeed at what it sets out to do, which is to present a man assimilating into another culture, but to do so without passing judgment on either culture. It's a noble attempt, but it doesn't quite work, possibly because a film of this sort almost has to favor the character who is "outside" the culture. Still, it doesn't help that the Indian characters are not as fleshed out as they might be; this is especially true of the woman Horse takes as a wife, who seems to exist solely as a romantic creature with no other dimension. Things are not helped by dialogue in a native tongue that is not translated for much of the film. This adds to the "alienated" feeling, but it also makes the characters less comprehensible to the audience. Finally, some viewers will find the unfortunate "psychedelic" moments entirely too dated and distracting. But despite its flaws, A Man Called Horse is a gripping movie that features an unforgettable star turn. ~ Craig Butler, Rovi
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