Gone Wild

Gone Wild


Reviewed by: Michael Pattison

Made over the course of four years and expanding upon its director’s previous mid- length work Blue Danube And Wild Horses (2009), Gone Wild is an appropriately quiet and beautifully-shot documentary focusing on the barely touched stretch of land that is Romania’s Black Sea coastline, and on the parallels and differences between its wild horses and the few human inhabitants that still populate it.

Filmed in and around Letea, Romania’s oldest natural reservation, Gone Wild was made during (and actively concerns itself with) “a time where species of wild horses are going extinct, one by one”. Said horses have become wild as a result of Stalinism’s fall in 1989 and the end of collective farming, which has also resulted in dwindling numbers of the human population. Curean’s documentary follows a few native villagers as well as a visitor named Mugur, whose interest in horses causes genuine concern when a few local teens capture one colt in order to brand it as their own.

Gone Wild’s title is presumably intended as a double metaphor. Set in the aftermath of the fall of Ceausescu, whose prolonged effects are still felt in Romania today, the film juxtaposes the direct and peripheral problems of abandonment facing the local villagers and their equine neighbours alike. The two of course interrelate, and often unhappily so: left visibly bored and with bleak prospects, local youths harass the horses in attempts to tame them. Though his parallels are subtly evoked by a voice-over that is barely a whisper, Curean’s “non-interventionist” approach risks accusations of complicity in the casual animal cruelty he documents.

Also problematic, perhaps, is the film’s central analogy: is the apparent anarchy of a deregulated post-communist economy not an outcome of merely a different form of socioeconomic intervention? Whereas the horses live in the wild, for instance, the ruins of what was once a collective farm is the direct result of political sanctions. Put another way, ruins are made – they’re not simply “natural”.

Such problems are in spite of Curean’s palpable fascination with this landscape and how it continues to condition the lives of its cohabitants – and, in turn, be shaped by them. In its latter stages, the film deals with the vain attempts by authorities to round up the horses for collective slaughter – a move that was successfully halted by high-profile media attention and a rapid international response. In its most moving passages, Gone Wild simply observes these creatures with a camera zoomed in from afar. Their graceful silhouettes against a Danube dusk equate to a simple, cinematic beauty.

Reviewed on: 19 Apr 2013
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In a landscape now largely abandoned by humans, wild horses face gradual extinction.

Director: Dan Curean

Year: 2012

Runtime: 83 minutes

Country: Romania


Bradford 2013

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