With STEAL HORSES “One after the other” director Hans Petter Moland is filming the bestseller Per Petterson of the same name as a complex, nested chronology of pain and thus has a real chance of winning a foreign Oscar. We reveal why in our review.
Father (Tobias Santelmann) and son (Jon Ranes) riding together.
The plot summary
The beauty of Norway can sometimes be painful. Old Trond (Stellan Skarsgård) is only looking for solitude when he moves to the small village in the forest. In this idyll he recognizes his neighbor as an old acquaintance from his youth. Suddenly there are all these memories of that post-war summer when Trond was 15 years old and spent several weeks cutting wood in the forest with his father. A summer in which he stole horses with a friend and discovered love. The summer in which a child died, his friend disappeared and his father’s secrets came to light. And the summer when he would see his father for the last time. “Memories that flood your consciousness and bring pain – but you decide for yourself how strong this is perceived.”
Out Stealing Horses Movie Meaning & ending
The films of the Norwegian-born Hans Petter Moland are cold, rough and mostly characterized by a deep black, cynical humor. His characters in it: no less rough and radical – just the methods with which Nils Dickman (and later Liam Neeson) got rid of each other “one after the other” – first in the Norwegian original, later in the US remake ” Hard Powder” – were imaginary both immensely entertaining and bitterly uncompromising undertaking. To this day, “Norwegian Charles Bronson,” originally titled “Kraftidioten,” is one of Moland’s most famous films, even beyond Norwegian borders. And even if it doesn’t seem like it at first glance, his latest film “Stealing Horses”, an adaptation of Per Petterson’s bestseller of the same name, is in line with Moland’s previous works. The (family) drama, which also stars Stellan Skarsgård (“The Man Who Killed Don Quixote”), is not nearly as grotesque in terms of staging, but Moland devotes himself to the theme of pain through loss and that in a no less intense way Attempting to cope with grief. In “One by One” Skarsgård sets out on a campaign of revenge. In “Stealing Horses,” however, the pain finds no catalyst and bites into the main character, Trond, for many decades. This circumstance also makes the film experience an extremely painful affair – but also a beautiful one, because Moland not only finds visually (and acoustically) breathtaking equivalents for a fateful summer, but also uses his sometimes perhaps even a little too complex narrative structure to convey to the audience to bring his characters closer.
Trond (Stellan Skarsgård) remembers a past summer…
A particularly memorable motif in the film is the titular horse stealing. Although it is of little importance for the plot, which is littered with blows of fate (Trond and his best friend simply decide one afternoon to mount two freely grazing horses and gallop across the fields with their herd), this scene is symptomatic of everything, what will happen next: The ride together ends in a fall. Nobody is seriously injured and yet the brief feeling of unconditional freedom is abruptly over, the riding ends and the horses are back with their peers. Just like everything else in “Stealing Horses,” everything here comes to an abrupt end sooner or later – and God knows, not everything ends as lightly as falling off a horse. The sheer number of strokes of fate is also something that could be criticized as a point of criticism for the film – especially in comparison to the original novel. The calamity that affects two individual families in just one summer sometimes even strains credibility. What Per Petterson is able to credibly tell in a lot more space, Moland is able to largely conceal with his narrative style (which is also based on the book).
Hans Petter Moland, who was also responsible for the script version of “Stealing Horses,” uses the return of his aging protagonist Trond to his home village as a narrative bracket. After an encounter with an old acquaintance, explanatory flashbacks follow that classify the special nature of this encounter as well as additional flashbacks that describe individual events within these flashbacks in more detail. Admittedly, following this is not always easy. Mainly because Moland doesn’t let any order shine through in his wild jump through the decades. Although we gradually learn at what (historical) time this or that storyline took place – in 1999, in 1948 and five years earlier, in 1943 – but instead of pointing the viewer’s nose at any clues, we have to who gathers his own knowledge from details. This can cause confusion; In extreme cases, it may even cause you to lose all interest in following the story at all. But ultimately it is hardly relevant at what time exactly which (mostly tragic) event actually took place for Trond and his family. “Stealing Horses” is primarily a character drama about how losses and the impossibility of dealing with them shape a person well into old age. And to illustrate this, Petterson and Moland used virtually every means possible – once you, as a viewer, have recovered from one tragedy, the next one immediately occurs.
Nevertheless, Moland never stages the deaths, accidents or other strokes of fate in a sensational way, does not exploit them or show them longer than necessary. Instead, the auteur filmmaker is primarily interested in the consequences. While the depiction of an accident often only takes a few seconds, the camera then focuses primarily on the faces of those around us – and especially on those of Trond. In addition to Stellan Skarsgård, whose pain is always written on his face in his few but striking scenes as the main character, it is especially newcomer Jon Ranes in his very first role who manages to make his character’s continuous mental atrophy tangible and yet again and again to show the last remnants of youthful carefreeness. Especially in interaction with Tobias Santelmann (“Kon-Tiki”) Ranes is convincing in the role of his impenetrable father when he increasingly has to question an established family bond; and Santelmann’s character gradually, but noticeably, moves away from his son in small nuances. The predominantly non-verbal communication between the two – there is very little spoken in “Stealing Horses” – forms the heart of the film. Moland takes a lot of time to just let the two interact with each other; be it working in the forest, on horseback or together in a lonely forest hut. All of these scenes are at least as powerful as those of absolute pain, which never take up much time but do not fail in their purpose. By the way, the formidable background music for composer Kaspar Kaae doesn’t do that either (“One after the other”) combines the sound of musical instruments with sounds of nature. Thomas Hardmeier (“Yves Saint Laurent”) and Rasmus Videbaek (“The Dark Tower”) meanwhile provide virtuoso, beautiful illustrations. Anyone who can’t get involved in the complex, intricate story will at least get something on offer on an audiovisual level.
Conclusion: Hans Petter Moland’s film adaptation of the novel “Stealing Horses” is a character study born of pain, which he sometimes tells in a more convoluted way than necessary. But the picturesque images and an impressive score with a high recognition value nip any hint of skepticism in the bud and captivate you without being able to resist it.
“Out Stealing Horses” can be seen in selected USA cinemas from November 21st.