Tag Archives: Robert Redford

The Films That Made Us — The Horse Whisperer

By Brian Slattery

I am not going to tell you about my favorite movie. I am not going to tell you about a movie that affected me in any positive fashion. I have not seen this movie more than once and have not seen this movie since it was released in 1998. The Horse Whisperer, directed by Robert Redford, is the first movie I saw in theaters that I remember not liking. Did it have anything to do with the fact that I was a 12-year-old boy watching a romance movie? Of course. But the effects of me watching this movie run deep.

For those of you who do not know, The Horse Whisperer starts off with a girl named Grace MacLean (played by Scarlett Johansson) and her friend Judith going out to ride horses in the early morning. On the ride, Grace and her horse Pilgrim are hit by a truck, causing serious physical and psychological harm to both of them. In an effort to rehabilitate both Grace and Pilgrim, Grace’s mother Annie (played by Kristin Scott Thomas) takes them to Montana to visit the widely renowned “horse whisperer” Tom Booker (played by Redford).

The next hour of the movie is dedicated to the rehabilitation of both Pilgrim and Grace. Pilgrim must allow people to ride him again. Grace needs to regain her courage, both to ride Pilgrim and to take risks in general. The movie’s two main problems, solved. Great, roll credits, we can go home, right? Wrong. Turns out that Annie has fallen in love with Tom and is having an affair. This leads to an entire second half of Annie trying to decide if she wants to stay with her new flame or return home to her husband and family.

Imagine yourself as a 12-year-old boy. Is this the kind of movie you want to see? Of course not. You want to go see Godzilla destroy New York as Matthew Broderick tries to kill the beast. To this day I make my displeasure in Redford’s film known. People complain The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King has too many endings; I tell them it could have ended and started an entirely new film in which Frodo has an affair with Sam’s new wife.


In this metaphor, Scarlett Johansson's look of injured memory represents Brian's theater experience. The horse represents Godzilla, naturally.


Since that fateful day in 1998 I haven’t been able to take the idea of romantic films seriously. There have been a few that I can say I’ve enjoyed. Overall, the thought of me having to sit in a theater and watch some people fall in love, have relationship issues, then get back together, is cringe-worthy. I go to movies to enjoy myself; if I wanted to watch a couple fight with each other and then make up I’d walk around the mall all day.

I am probably giving The Horse Whisperer a worse rap than it deserves, but that does not mean that I am going to watch it again. It has taken nearly three hours of my life from me. I shall not allow it to have any more. It also stole an opportunity to see Godzilla, which I had to watch a few days later than I had wanted.

And that is why Godzilla holds a special place in my heart — for being Not The Horse Whisperer.


I come to destroy New York and to heal your heart.


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