Of Horses and Men (15)

Jan 21, 2015
Cranbrook Film Society

A saga of wry, fantastical and sometimes shocking stories celebrating a remote Icelandic community, its people and their horses.

“It’s not every film that really does show you things that you have never seen before…..tender, delicate and funny.”
Peter Bradshaw the Guardian.

Benedikt Erlingsson | Iceland | 2013 | 81 minutes

Film notes:

In a remote Icelandic community the relationship between humans and horses is as close knit as the relationship between people. Here is a society where man still relies on the beast of burden for transport, livelihood, and company. The eye-catching thoroughbred horses are of extreme genetic purity, no other breed being allowed on the island, and have a unique gait the ‘tolt’ or ‘flying pace’ which is really curious and only inherent in Icelandic horses.

It is spring time and love is in the air, the setting is a windswept rural town whose austere beauty is captured with translucent clarity by the cinematographer Bergsteinn Bjoergulfsson who also worked on “The Deep”. That Icelandic style of brittle, unadorned clarity is continued very effectively in this saga, or collection of stories. The episodes are linked by close up shots of the human protagonists reflected in the eyes of their horses and what strange things these humans do get up to. From the stately gentleman showing off his exquisite mare; the town drunk in search of illegal booze; a Swedish cowgirl intent on demonstrating her skills to the locals; feuding neighbours, unlikely trysts, survival skills etc. etc.

This is the film debut of Iceland’s most celebrated theatre director. It has won awards from Amiens, Goteborg, San Sebastian, Talinn and Tokyo as well as Iceland which is quite remarkable for a first film. Erlingsson uses long takes and picturesque composition to weave together the landscape and the lives of the people and the horses in the gentle rhythm of everyday life. He has the following additional information: –

..Icelandic sagas are like episodes that intertwine. In essence, it comes down to oral culture, because the sagas come from the oral culture of telling stories. And when you tell a story it is told again and again and you hear it and it changes a little bit and becomes exaggerated and the stories are formed in the oral tradition and have a kind of character and I think, in that sense, the stories in the film are like that.

It is important to state that no horses were hurt in the making of this film. The entire cast and crew are horse owners and horse lovers…. I must admit, however, that there were some human actors that were traumatized by the experience of making this film, but they all survived… or at least they were still alive when this was written’, (Benedikt Erlingsson, Director).

David MacKerrell


            Weighted vote 80.2%