You don't have to be a fan of horses to appreciate the beauty of the IMAX release, "Horses: The Story of Equus." Narrated by Gabriel Byrne, "Horses" follows three horses from birth to some of their most defining moments. The film opens by offering the fact that 6,000 years ago people domesticated horses, helping them avoid extinction. From here we meet the three horses that will shape the film: the chestnut, the black and the bay. We watch as they graze together and grow big in such a short amount of time. Then they are divided and sent out to live with new owners on new land.
One of the more compelling stories is that of the black horse. The black horse begins its new journey on his way to a stud farm. After an accident, the horse escapes and is alone in the wild, running further and further away from civilization. There, the horse must search for a herd that will accept him - a place to call home.
Elsewhere, the bay is being trained to compete in eventing, a cross country sport that relies on the bond between the rider and the horse. "When two stubborn minds collide someone is going to suffer," Byrne narrates as we watch, eager to see if the bay is ready or willing to run the course. The bay must start anew when he's sold to a stuntman and animal trainer with whom he begins to develop a trust that takes him all the way to the movies and a heroic rescue.
The chestnut, who was bred to race, begins the rigorous training for just that. "But her owner's dream and the cheering crowd mean little to the chestnut. Her deepest instinct is to run." While not starting off as the most compelling of the horses, the IMAX footage of the chestnut running is spectacular and you can't help but get swept up as you watch her race. When the horse is injured, the question of whether or not she can race again drives her story forward.
"Horses" brings to life a wonderful story of three horses that are not defined by their routine, but by their will and ability. We not only see the struggles they face in adapting to their new lives, but also some of the possible lives a horse can lead. The film does a wonderful job intertwining the stories and manages to educate the viewer without feeling heavy-handed. But where the film really shines is in the presentation -- from the powerful footage of the horses running, to the beautiful footage of the land that supports them, to the writing that carries the film. Byrne's delivery of the narration is also first-rate. While not as memorable as some of IMAX other efforts such as "Ride Around the World" and "Beavers," "Horses" is an enjoyable and moving story about creatures that have captured our imagination for thousands of years.
VIDEO: The presentation is offered by Image Entertainment in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. As per usual, this is another stellar presentation from Image Entertainment. Sharpness and detail remain consistently solid, as the picture boasts a clean, crisp look with an almost three-dimensional feel at times. A little bit of edge enhancement is spotted in a couple of scenes, but otherwise, the presentation looked smooth and pristine. Colors remained warm and rich, with excellent saturation and no smearing.
SOUND: While the film does certainly have a strong visual impact, the film's audio is not terribly aggressive, largely due to the material, which doesn't call for a great deal of surround use. Ambience, occasional sound effects and music are heard from the rear speakers, but the majority of the audio is spread quite nicely across the front soundstage. Audio quality is stellar as the score sounded full and rich, while sound effects came across sounding well-recorded and crisp. Overall, while not the most active IMAX sound mix, the presentation does a fine job in putting the viewer into the spaces.
EXTRAS:Unfortunately there are no extra features included on the DVD.
Final Thoughts:While not as memorable as some of IMAX other efforts such as "Ride Around the World" and "Beavers," "Horses" is an enjoyable and moving story about creatures that have captured our imagination for thousands of years.