Projections - Movie Reviews

Running Free Running Free

With a story from producer Jean Jacques Annaud (The Bear) and its scripter Jeanne Rosenberg, co-writer of the highly revered The Black Stallion, the first movie from the talented Sergel Bodrov, out of Russia entitled Running Free would appear to be pleasing to equine lovers and the lyrical endearing of their milieu.  But, Annaud's pet project only flourishes in its naturalistic qualities revealed from the little seen African colonialism just before WWI and the panoramic landscapes and distant locales of South Africa.  Otherwise, Running Free may be the animal side of I Dreamed Of Africa in that Bodrov's direction is one dimensional.

Coming out soon after Dinosaur, this boy and his horse yarn mimics by having the hoofed ones speak; but here it seems awkward with non stop voice over recitation from the main foal character  called Lucky.

Bodrov does make his early images impressionable with a harsher side of horses stowed on a boat at a foggy German seaport en route to South African copper mines.  A mare giving birth to a foal within an enclosed atmosphere seems to offer a darker, naturalistic side that wasn't apparent in Dinosaur.

Similar to I Dreamed Of Africa, outdoor scenes accentuate the lensing and designs, but the horse's physical beauty when traversing the barren wilderness never approaches the grandeur shown in Dinosaur.  A black stallion whose gratuitous acts lead to mild adventures with the impulsive, quick witted Richard (Chase Moore), a mine laborer.

Later in the problematic script Lucky is cared for by some tribal youngsters, and the abrupt onslaught of bombs on the mining town, perhaps from British biplanes, signals the unemotional parting of Richard and his resilient foal.

Subsequently, muted scenes shot at Namibia are gorgeous, but carelessly presented with Lucky's exodus, aided by the warm Myka (Maria Geelbooi).  The last sequence, a decade later, with Lucky and the vicious Caesar, and his daughter, Beauty, abandons its intended sentiment.

Running Free has its way with horses in individual, reactive moments, but not in their full stride, and the people on view are restricted.  The maimed narrative and the persistent, sameness in the voice over, show clearly that Annaud's oxymoron title can only be admired for capturing stark naturalism in early 20th century South Africa.

Running Free

Home | Search | Reviewer Bios | Links | Mail Us
Copyright © 2005 Projections