Scarlett Johansson as Grace MacLean
Directed by Robert Redford
Written by Nick Evans (novel), Eric Roth (screenplay)
Release Year 1998
MPAA Rating PG-13
It’s a wonderful winter morning, the sun is shining and there’s snow everywhere. A morning to go horse riding, thinks Grace when she wakes up in the weekend cabin in the countryside. Judith, her best friend, thinks just the same at her place nearby. So the two meet, giggle around, behave like typical happy 14-year olds – and set off for horse riding. At the same time, Robert, Grace’s father, is still asleep and Annie, her mother, has just finished her jogging tour in New York’s streets and is going to the office. She’s is the editor of a Magazine.
However typical this may be for a MacLean weekend, it won’t end typically. Judith and Grace have a terrible accident while riding. As a result, Judith dies and Grace loses a leg. Pilgrim, Grace’s horse, is traumatized too.
Now, in this time of crisis, long existing family problems come to the surface. Like, why would Annie spend the weekend working in New York all by herself while her husband and daughter are having a great time in the countryside? And why does Robert put up with that? And what about Grace, an only child with a perfect mother? Pilgrim is the mirror of the feelings of everyone, especially Grace. Annie finds that out, and thinks that the only way to help Grace cope with the tragedy is to find a way to cure the troubled horse. So she’s looking for a ‘Horse Whisperer’.
Scarlett Johansson’s Role
Scarlett plays Grace MacLean, the 14-year-old who loses her best friend and her leg in a terrible accident while riding her horse. She is not only physically but also emotionally scarred. Plus, now more than ever, she hates having a perfect mother. And since she is an only child she feels that all pressure is on her to be the perfect daughter. Having lost a leg, she thinks that she isn’t able anymore to be exactly this. Also she has to put up with the fact that she won’t probably be able to ride again, that her beloved horse is very disturbed, that she has no best friend anymore and that she is never going to find a husband having but one leg. However, she hides her vulnerability behind a lot of sarcasm.
… Robert Redford
… Kristin Scott Thomas
… Sam Neiill
… Dianne Wiest
Trivia & Facts
• The image does not become widescreen until Annie and Grace set out for Montana. In the early scenes, the image on the screen has a “television” aspect ratio.
• John Barry’s original score for this film was rejected–it would ultimately become his concept album “The Beyondness Of Things”.
• Natalie Portman withdrew from the starring role in this movie to appear in “The Diary of Anne Frank” on Broadway instead.
• In the book, Pilgrim is dark bay, rather than chestnut, and a Morgan horse. Gulliver (Judith’s horse) is the chestnut.
Quotes: Scarlett Johansson
• Scarlett about her role: “I just thought what an incredible role it was, and I remember turning to my mom, and saying: whoever gets this role is the luckiest girl in the entire world. I am able to identify with the reality of this character which is something you don’t see often. When you get a script and it’s a real, live person that you’re reading, That’s what makes it so appealing, that’s what you identify with. I’d never ridden once before, and it was interesting to learn about that. I learnt to appreciate the relationship between horse and rider. I’ve always admired them from afar, but never had the chance to really study them this close before. I wasn’t a horse person before I made the movie, but I certainly am now. There were dozens of horses used in the film and I got to bond with several of them. They’re so adorable. I’m aware I’ve just had the role of a lifetime, so it’s difficult to find something that really excites me.’”
• Scarlett on Robert Redford: “What I learnt from him is patience, as he’s such a very patient person, and also simplicity. He keeps everything very simple and it really helps to define the dialogue and the film itself. He is the same patient listener that his character is in The Horse Whisperer. Because he’s had his own children and grandchildren, he knows what questions to ask about school, parents and friends. I didn’t like calling him Mr. Redford and I didn’t think it was respectful to call him Bob like every one else, so I settled on Booie because he called me Boo.”
• Scarlett about meeting Robert Redford: “I was much more in awe when I met with Rob Reiner when I was eight years old for North. I knew him from reruns of All in the Family. I’d already met a screen legend when I played Sean Connery’s daughter in Just Cause, so I guess you can say I was ready for Robert Redford.”
• Robert Redford (director): “Scarlett is 13 going on 30.”
• Kristin Scott Thomas: “Scarlett is a very young actress, but she’s not inexperienced. She’s born to be on a movie set. It’s extraordinary. And I thought we worked well as a mother and daughter. There was definitely a chemistry there which was a relief, because it’s not at all easy to play a mother. And I shouldn’t think it’s very easy to play a daughter either. It’s a very intimate relationship that is difficult to cheat on.”
• Mike Boyle (head wrangler): “Some of the other actors needed a little brushing up. I think Scarlett Johansson started out pretty scared, but she’s one of those people who doesn’t say she’s scared or show fear. And she made a two hundred per cent change and improvement. She got to where I could put her on any horse on the set and she could just lope off and have fun.”
Quotes: Her Character
• “Who’s going to want me now?”
• “I know where he goes.”
• “Are you afraid of anything, Tom Booker?”
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