28 February 2012 | runamokprods
Exquisite fever dream, even if it runs down a bit towards the end
For about an hour, this fever dream fantasized vision of the brief life of the great horse painter Theodore Gericault really held me in it's thrall.
A fictional story with real characters, the film imagines that Gericault ran away to join the circus, but a circus run by Franconi, a great horseman, whose horses and riders in the film perform truly breathtaking feats. Franconi himself is portrayed as a leather mask wearing, frightening presence. But this sounds far more grounded in reality than this surreal film is to experience.
While the story didn't really even try tie together, the images of horses and humans were worthy of the best of Greenaway, as was the exquisite air of mystery.
But somehow the last 45 minutes felt more literal, more forced, and the film lost some of it's power. It felt like the film slowly evolves from a mysterious dream, to a story that needs to be neatly, if surreally tied up, By growing more literal, it lost some power and magic. But it's still a strong film, filled with some truly unforgettable images of horses and humans in various combinations.