Of Horses And Men, film review: Beautiful imagery set against rugged, Icelandic backdrops

(15) Benedikt Erlingsson, 81 mins Starring: Ingvar E Sigurdsson, Charlotte Bøving
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The Independent Culture

As film-makers from John Ford to Akira Kurosawa have demonstrated, few animals photograph as well as horses.

The Icelandic director Benedikt Erlingsson's debut feature is a wondrously strange affair, full of beautiful imagery of Icelandic horses set against rugged, frozen backdrops.

Erlingsson is looking at human behaviour at its most primal through the eyes of these horses. The film, which has hardly any dialogue, consists of interlinked episodes involving Icelandic horses and the humans who work with them.

There is an astonishing sequence early on in which a stallion mounts a mare, seemingly oblivious to the fact that its rider is still on the saddle. The man (leading Icelandic actor Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson) is humiliated and reacts in violent fashion.

During key moments in the humans' lives – courtship, funerals – the horses always seem to be there. One hard-drinking local uses his horse to ride out to sea to a Russia trawler in pursuit of vodka. Another, caught in the cold, buries himself in the guts of his horse for warmth.

There is deadpan humour but the events portrayed are often bloody and brutal.