Whether they’re filled with Greek soldiers, cotton wadding or a whole lot of heart, movie horses always have the right stuff.
LIKE cats and dogs, horses in the movies frequently have personalities that make them more than just a means of transport for the human characters. These beautiful creatures’ importance is especially significant in westerns or period dramas. Sometimes, their role goes beyond just that of supporting “actor” – their presence is intertwined with the narrative and the main character. There are also films with horses as the central figures. Today we take a look at some of the movie horses that have galloped away with our hearts.
Joey (War Horse, 2011)
Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine) finds a friend in Joey, a steed that, by some tiny miracle, ends up in his stable. Although separated at the outbreak of World War I – Albert is sent to France and Joey is sold to the military – they find each other after enduring endless hardships.
Based on a true story about a racehorse whose victories lifted the spirits of Americans during the Great Depression. It showed that despite Seabiscuit’s disadvantages – it is smaller than other horses and has a slight limp – it can rise to the challenge and become a winner.
Set in the 1890s, it revolves around a cowboy (Viggo Mortensen) who takes part in a 4,800km endurance race across the Arabian desert. His horse, Hidalgo – which is looked down upon as it does not have a pure bloodline – is both an adorable and determined creature.
There are a number of films derived from this story originally written by Anna Sewell (the latest was in 1994 starring Sean Bean). Told from the horse’s point of view, we follow its story from carefree days as a colt to a hard life as an adult. Don’t worry, there is a happy ending.
The Black Stallion (1979)
Based on Walter Farley’s 1941 novel about a boy and an Arabian stallion who are, at first, stranded together on a deserted island. When they are rescued and returned to civilisation, the stallion is trained to become the fastest horse there is.
Spirit: Stallion Of The Cimarron (2002)
Matt Damon voices Spirit, a wild stallion that travels across the frontiers of the Old West. In his journey, he befriends a human, has a couple of adventures and meets his mate.
Shadowfax (The Lord Of The Rings)
A silvery-grey horse that was given to Gandalf by the king of Rohan. Shadowfax is a descendant of the greatest horses of Middle-earth and is said to run faster than the wind. Needless to say, it is simply gorgeous.
Silver (The Lone Ranger)
The masked man’s white stallion that is just as heroic as the Lone Ranger. It also seems to be a little mystical and eccentric. Everybody together now: “Hi-Yo, Silver! Away!”
The Headless Horseman’s ride
How else does the headless horseman travel? He needs his trusted steed (which cuts an intimidating figure) to be his eyes and all.
You know it’s true; Maximus stole the show right from under Rapunzel’s, erm, hair. And he had no lines – just a lot of neighing and some rearing (mostly towards Flynn Rider).
Bullseye (Toy Story 2, 1999)
Woody meets his trusty toy steed in Toy Story 2 and learns that he is part of the Woody’s Roundup gang. Although not the bravest of horses, he is very affectionate and loyal towards Woody. Also, Bullseye can ride like the wind and leap across giant canyons in a single bound.
The horse’s head (The Godfather, 1972)
OK, we didn’t really see a galloping horse (erm, just a severed head on the bed of a movie producer), but that’s what happens when you turn down an offer you shouldn’t have refused.
Surrogate horses (Monty Python And The Holy Grail, 1975)
Before Psy thought of Gangnam Style, the Pythons had the brilliant idea of having King Arthur and his k-niggets mime horse-riding and having their squires clap coconut shells together for the clippity-clop sound effects. Blame it on budget constraints, which turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as it gave the film some of its biggest guffaws.
The Trojan Horse (various, including Troy, 2004)
The hollow wooden statue which the Greeks used to hide in so they could enter the city of Troy and win the Trojan war. In the film, it is Brad Pitt’s Achilles and Sean Bean’s Odysseus who are among those hiding in the wooden horse. Surprise!