By Denis Gifford
Tough hide booklet, entire assessment of the horror motion picture style. totally illustrated with nice images.
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36 This important thesis has a number of important implications. The first is that humane behaviour is not simply a matter of deeds but is also a matter of being seen to behave humanely. By extension, the mark of a more civilized society – a common trope of animal welfare literature generally – is the way in which a society displays its humanity. The appearance and treatment of the animal body become a barometer for the moral health of the nation. Second, the importance of the visual is not limited simply to the relationship between the observer and the observed.
Willy, the film implies, in some way knows that Jesse is like him, or on his side, through their exchange of looks. If a character has no means of communicating their personal narrative, the specifics of their sense of loss, then they naturally fall back on the look, the gesture and the touch. In fact, Jesse will successfully train Willy to do tricks, and ultimately set the whale free, through the use of gestures.
38 Horses are not like dogs yet fulfil a more satisfying sense of mastery. In the case of The Horse Whisperer the overcoming of the trauma enables the horse to be controlled again by his owner. But although human mastery is reestablished at the end of the film it is proved to be fragile through the interlinking of the fates of horse and rider. A much darker version of the traumatic encounter of human and horse is found in the film Equus (Lumet, 1977), based on Peter Shaffer’s play of the same name, in which a boy undergoes psychiatric treatment for blinding six horses.
A Pictorial History of Horror Movies by Denis Gifford