Of Horses and Men (2013) Poster

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Of Horses And Men In Iceland
croneologycat11 January 2014
Benedikt Erlingsson's first film, horses are a way of life in Iceland, and here they are honored for their compact bodies, ethereal faces, unique gaits, stamina, and for their endurance in a country not known for plush green hills and sunshine.

There is sly and delightful humor. The actors are on point. A bonus is that everyone who lives in this area obviously is totally at ease in the saddle. There was no need for stand-ins because what is seen is what happened during the filming.

The photography is exceptional, giving beauty to a vista of iron gray crags. It is an earthy tale of all too human humans.
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Where (Icelandic) nature and the human condition become one.
solvifannarvidarsson3 September 2013
Of Horses and Men, in Icelandic; Hross í Oss.

A film by actor, author and director Benedikt Erlingsson and produced by Fridrik Thor Fridriksson.

I encourage everyone to see it and form their own opinions.

Tom Robbins said: "The function of the artist is to provide what life does not".

Apparently Tom has never been to Iceland. I truly enjoyed this magnificent journey, diving into the deep end of the pool with a talented group of artists/professionals — and horses! — taking chances (in my opinion with great success) that I have never seen before in Icelandic films (if anywhere else) coming out with loads of beautiful - and some unforgettable moments...

One of the better films I have seen in a good while; amongst several other factors, the cinematography blew my mind. But then again, this is Iceland, Icelandic landscape, Icelandic horses, etc. etc.

Will be thoroughly surprised if this film does not do extremely well.
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Hilarious and dramatic events within an Icelandic village. Men, women and horses play equal roles as protagonists, with hormones and social conventions as main driving factors
JvH4826 February 2015
Saw this film at the Noordelijk film festival 2014 in Leeuwarden (NL). Beautiful landscapes with men/women looking after horses and riding on them, while at the same time very occupied with the other women/men in the village. The movie is carried by several intertwined story lines to keep the flow going, including all sorts of humorous and dramatic events.

The village population sees and knows everything that's going on with their neighbors, even watching more distant neighbors and their interactions by means of binoculars when line of sight allows. Much of this was exactly as I remember from my youth, having grown up on a farm in a very small village (750 people, 100 houses). There was one remarkable difference, however, namely that the horses in this film were treated very different in comparison with the cows I am more familiar with. I felt these horses to be more closer to humans than cows ever were in my remembrance.

Not all village life is a happy life, however, in spite of the romantic feelings we derive from adverts with green meadows filled with happy cows. It involves tedious manual labor in difficult circumstances, in good and bad weather, and long travel distances that cross unfriendly rocks and rivers. We had to witness two funerals in the process, something wherein the whole village comes together and sympathizes in the family's grief. Major events like rounding-up horses to be brought to the market when ready to be sold, also form opportunities where the whole village works together in taking the herd over the rocks and rivers and the vast fields in between, typically a task that can be completed only when everyone joins in and cooperates.

On a more frivolous note, we see hormones at work within horses as well as people. It is something that can unite as well as break up people or even families. Phenomena like this were more hidden in the village where I grew up (it was in the sixties, and maybe I was just ignorant and as youngster did not see the obvious at the time). Anyway, hormones in this village are prominently present and active, with a definitive influence on everyone's actions. We witness several actions frowned on by any church I know of. The whole village witnesses it, or at least hears about it, and certainly has an opinion in the matter.

As an example I can mention a hilarious scene where a price winning mare is being sired (is that the correct verb?) by a young stallion, while the owner of the mare is still sitting on its back.... This event involved lots of additional shame, as it happened while the proud owner was actually showcasing his newly bought mare. Everyone in the village saw it happening from close-by or via their binoculars. Yet I did not fully comprehend the aftermath of this intimate gathering of the two horses, who actually did nothing wrong while following the call of nature. I assume that the shame and being the talk of the town played an important role in the decision.

All in all, the landscapes, the inside view in the micro cosmos of an Icelandic village, with the horses as important protagonists together with their owners, it all mixes very well while showing dramatic as well as hilarious events. A lot of interesting things happen on screen in only 81 minutes, which is an achievement in itself. You don't get the chance to loose your attention while so many things are happening.
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Brilliant production in every sense!
brigittedoumit27 February 2015
Warning: Spoilers
This is one of the rare movies that kept lingering in my mind for a long time after I had seen it. The film is made up of individual stories and each story has a light and a dark twist to it. It has a light, humorous side to it, but is also disturbing. The meaning and the images are striking and very powerful. And they are enhanced by the vast and desolate expanses of the country. As a foreigner I also enjoyed very much seeing those beautiful horses and the interaction of the Icelanders with those fabulous animals. It is an ingenious production that gives the viewers a glimpse of the Iceland that is remote and wild. Wonderful debut!
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Icelandic epic saga about passionate people and horses
maurice_yacowar9 January 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The Icelandic film Of Horses and Men should properly be called Stories of Horses and People, director Benedikt Erlingsson told the Palm Springs Film Festival audience. The film is structured like an episodic Icelandic saga.

In the last shot a wide expanse of life radiates out of the central hub, a pen of newly rounded up mustangs. That's a coda to the stories that relate human to equine life. Indeed each episode begins with an image of a human or his work reflected in a horse's eye. The opening titles use a white horse's close-up hide as the backdrop. An ear perks to the music. Later the music will fade in and out of the hoof beats.

In the first episode a man is humiliated when the snappy white mare he is riding is mounted by a black stallion — the man still aboard. Feeling emasculated, the man shoots his mare and lovingly buries her. Because the stallion's owner desires that man she castrates the stallion. In the last episode she will finally get her stud, even if she has to warn him to hold on to his horses. In fact, to her brown mare who's jumpy. After the roundup the man finds another white mare, so his romantic adventure shows only gain.

In some episodes the horses are clearly smarter than the men. One man rides a horse into the sea to buy vodka from a Russian boat — then drinks himself to death on the pure alcohol he was given. In a spat over a fence one man is killed and another loses an eye.

On the other hand, a Swedish girl proves her mettle by single-handedly rounding up six runaways and the blind drunk. The young Mexican who admires her joins a riding troop and survives a blizzard by killing and gutting his horse, then burrowing into its carcass. In these stories the human and the horse are in harmony. For more see www.yacowar.blogspot.com.
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The scenery is the real star here.
MOscarbradley17 September 2015
The one thing that Iceland has no shortage of, apart from ice that is, is scenery and director Benedikt Erlingsson makes great use of it in this strange tale that supposedly describes man's relationship with the horse but which lapses into the surreal often enough for us to wonder if Erlingsson has something else in mind. Indeed, after the scenery, it is the horses who are the real stars here, though if you are a horse lover, the few scenes where they are killed and mutilated by the good folk of Iceland, should give you pause, (though the humans don't come out of it too well, either). It's more like something you might get from the likes of Roy Andersson while on holiday and it's quirky enough to be of more than passing interest. It's also quite short.
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An escape to Iceland
ronarimes14 December 2018
This is a film quite unlike any other. Darkly comic. I was transported to the remote community in Iceland and into the lives of the eccentric and amusing characters who lived there. The scenery is stunning and the music and the Icelandic ponies beautiful. Some horrible things happen but somehow acceptable in the extreme conditions. . In this strong community, distances don't prevent everyone knowing everyone elses' secrets. They look out for each other to survive but being human have their rivalries and conflicts. I found the film compelling and beautiful in spite of the events and for the duration shared in another way of life in a beautiful but harsh environment.
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DoctorHver1 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
Awful movie with no plot, This movie simply doesn't deserve any of the compliments or awards it has been getting. This movie lacks the most important fact, a plot and story. Nothing happens during the entry run-time, that are 81 min I will never get back.

The lowest point in this film was the semi-beastiality porn sequence. I mean whats entertaining or fun about that? If you enjoy those kind of things you might as well Google for beastiality porn on the internet instead. But keep in mind that I condemn such a behavior so you do so at your own risk.

Conclusion, If this film is supposed to be the saving grace of Icelandic film industry you might as well kill it. There is nothing else you can say about this film.
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A narrative disaster, not rescued by lovely visuals
b_hagerty-124 July 2017
Warning: Spoilers
The favorable reviews give a misleading picture of this disappointing mess. Yes, the visuals are nice, including repeated arty closeups of horses' eyes with reflections in them as well as lovely pictures of the Icelandic landscape. But the plot, if you can call it that, is both minimal and silly. In particular, some of the key events in the movie make absolutely no sense. Here are my main complaints (spoilers ahead):

(1) The movie opens with a funny story line in which a local gentleman rides his mare to a female neighbor's house for tea. (Later in the movie, they inexplicably choose to have sex for the first time in a valley during a horse roundup where everyone else can see them.) As he is riding away, the woman's stallion breaks loose and mounts the mare with the rider on it (the picture on the movie poster). He then rides the mare home and shoots her. Umm, okay, maybe he didn't want that stallion to breed with his mare, but would he really kill her? Why not just kill the foal after it's born if you really think it's useless? (And people later compliment the stallion after it's gelded, so it's not like it's some crappy horse.) Surely you could breed the mare again. I am not an expert on horse breeding, but killing the mare seems like an insane reaction to an unwanted pregnancy.

(2) A local drunk rides a horse into the ocean to meet up with a Russian boat leaving port. At first you think, oh, what a risky way to steal a horse. But he is not stealing the horse. He leaves it standing in a temporary platform dangling from the ship while he boards it to pick up two bottles of very strong alcohol from the Russians, who warn him against drinking it straight. He doesn't seem to give them anything in return, and there is no explanation of why he can't get alcohol an easier way (alcohol is expensive in Iceland, but couldn't he just make his own moonshine?). He then rides the horse back to the mainland. Of course, he drinks the alcohol straight from the bottle despite the Russians' warning, and then he dies of alcohol poisoning. This is yet another story line with cool visuals and a nonsensical plot.

(3) A random Spanish-speaking guy is biking through the countryside and gets a crush on a Norwegian girl who is herding some horses. He asks if he can join the riders and they say sure, why not? As he is riding with a group that is driving a herd of horses ahead of them, he falls behind because he is an inexperienced rider and he can't get his horse to speed up. The rest of the riders abandon him, and he gets lost. (There is no world in which a group of riders would leave a strange foreigner behind in Iceland on one of their horses.) It starts snowing, and to survive, he kills the horse and climbs inside of it (like Luke Skywalker climbing into a tauntaun in the Empire Strikes Back). Oh, and he kills the horse with a single blow from a pocket knife, then uses that same pocket knife to cut the horse open well enough to fit inside it. Sure. The next morning the group that abandoned him finds him and pulls him out of the horse.

Could one of these inexplicable, pointless story lines be excused? Maybe. But three of them? And it's not like we get some other great payoff to make up for this silliness. (There are a couple more story lines, but they aren't worth summarizing.)

In short, some of the visuals are good, and if you like Icelandic horses, you might enjoy just watching the horses. But as a movie, this is pretty terrible.
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lfreeze5 May 2019
Warning: Spoilers
If you want to watch a pointless movies about a bunch of horses being killed by various idiots, this is the movie for you. What a monumental waste of time. I turned it off after the guy cut the horse open to keep from freezing to death, surprised I even made it that far into the movie. Dumb dumb dumb.
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The beast in man, and the man in the beast
paul2001sw-113 May 2017
Bengt Erlingsson's 'Of Horses and Men' tells the story of a remote Icelandic village where people don't say much, but, as a series of vignettes show, have fairly important relationships with their animals. The tone is droll and, although it takes a bit of getting used to, the individual tales are actually quite amusing, as is the overall conceit of the film. It's not exactly high art, but it's definitely warmer than the bleak landscapes that form the film's backdrop might suggest.
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