A Sala Llena

Subtotal: $0,00
No products in the cart.


Horizon: An American Saga. Chapter 1


As time goes by, what is true cinema is put in the rightful place it should have occupied all along.

The race in festivals to see movies, the blind fanaticism towards certain directors and the memory loss now present not only in the cinematic sense, but also in the political and historical sense, generates in many cases that some projects become invisible (even more so when it comes to those that did not make the official selection), even when one such project comes from outside the abounding canons, along with gossiping, snobbism, the applause meters, the length of the standing ovations or the labeling of being “an immediate masterpiece”. Sometimes, among all these cases, isolated films appear, like the one Kevin Costner presents today.

Times change and we change with the times. Our perception of seeing films is no longer the same when compared to the years we saw movies at theaters, and what theaters were those!, in which every week we had releases that we still remember today and formed us, and that now we can barely number some when keeping track of releases throughout the year. This leads to, for instance, that films we left aside decades ago are now redeemed. In Costner’s case, even The Postman is nowadays a better film than the current average theatrical releases.

Costner had in his short directorial career three symbolical examples when it comes to the obtained results with Dances with Wolves, The Postman and Open Range. The first was an Orion Pictures release and won him Academy Awards for Best Director and Best Picture, putting him in a place of privilege. Yet it took Costner seven years to return to the director’s chair, and did so with the full support of a major studio such as Warner Bros. He produced what many would call a major flop. Such thing is something we do not care much for around here, but it did seal his fate as a director, resulting in the loss of his carte blanche. From success to failure, from one project to the other. Six years later, I imagine that after blame has been spread around and he himself endured some growth (taking into account Costner worked with great directors such as De Palma, Kasdan, Eastwood and Tony Scott, all from which he should have learned something), he released what would be his best film, unnoticed and even omitted to some: Open Range. In there he manifested what we could really call a “masterpiece”. The movie has everything, but it was not enough; audiences did not support him, though critics did.

This month, after 21 years without directing, Costner makes a comeback with a new project that is both megalomaniacal and epic, just like Francis Ford Coppola and his Megalopolis. Both projects were self-financed, with criticism towards the existing “film studios” that have no interest in them. Costner managed to finance the first and second parts of this epic western and he just started to shoot the third chapter. For the fourth he pointed out that he has yet to secure financing to make it happen, although he hopes that the invitation/impulse extended to him by the Cannes Film Festival is useful to set things into motion and redeem himself with audiences.

The first chapter of Horizon: An American Saga is proof of that.

Costner interiorizes into what was the quest and migration towards territories in the American West during the Civil War. Lands where the colonists could establish themselves for free with just developing and inhabiting them (something already seen in Ron Howard’s Far and Away and many others). That is how in the first scenes, Costner does not skimp on time to make an introduction of each one of the characters (which are too many) in different parallel stories that will intersperse with each other throughout the film. To generate a certain tone, in the beginning we will see a fierce Indian attack to a settlement, setting up the dispute between a young Indian and his father (something seen in Dances with Wolves which, I imagine, will acquire higher importance in future chapters), and symmetrically, the relationship between a General in charge of the settlement and his son. A line will also be drawn in the fictitious horizon stressed out in the film’s title, a limit, which is the one that will be trespassed by the colonists to warn the Indians. A double game is set between conquerors and inhabitants of the territories. Amidst the massacre there is also room to make clear there is an outlook on both sides of the situation.

Different stories converge in Horizon. Among them, Costner’s apparition as the lonely Hayes Ellison, who claims to be looking for business without mentioning what kind of business he is dealing with. He becomes involved with a woman that holds a conflict waiting for him upon arriving in a town besieged by two gunmen. At the same time, these gunmen are in the lookout for a woman (Jena Malone), who killed and run away with her son.

On the other hand, we have the adventures of a caravan headed for Horizon, led by Matthew Van Weyden (Luke Wilson) and where Costner stops to show that the Chinese and British were also in the Wild West; this is not an act of political correctness, just a confirmation that these ethnic groups were present. This is the story in which the interaction and relationship between those involved, the solidarity and conflict resolution are made the clearest, as one would see in a western by John Ford.

Finally, another story is introduced that serves as nexus between the initial killing and the apparition of the brigade. It is centered on a lieutenant (Sam Worthington), who is given perhaps a rather melodramatic/romantic role by becoming involved with a general’s widow, portrayed by Sienna Miller.

In Costner’s films not everything is linked to brutality, brandishing guns and entering into duels, but they rather concentrate in a journey towards Horizon or a sacred place, one of coexistence, almost biblical; an exodus. It reveals that codes used to exist as well as a respect for family and women, as we could appreciate in films by Eastwood, Ford and Howard Hawks; something far removed from westerns depicting submission and gratuitous violence.

Horizon is a cinematic event, despite some loose and rushed comments after a world premiere compare it to a miniseries, as if that was a demeaning term. It has an exciting story that is just starting to be unveiled.

If there is something negative to mention is the fact of showing a teaser for the following chapters. It is perhaps a merely commercial demonstration or a strategy to gather the investors the project still needs.


Director: Kevin Costner. Screenwriters: Kevin Costner, Jon Baird. Cast: Kevin Costner, Abbey Lee, Siena Miller, Jena Malone, Danny Huston, Will Patton, Sam Worthington, Michael Rooker, Luke Wilson. Producers: Kevin Costner, Mark George Gillard, Howard Kaplan. Runtime: 181 minutes.

Also you can read...

Receive the latest news

Subscribe To Our Weekly Newsletter

Get notified about new articles