Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1


Reviewed by: Richard Mowe

Kevin Costner is back in the saddle as his passion project Horizon, An American Saga receives a Cannes World Premiere
"It has all the hallmarks of a production destined for a television mini-series with apparently three other chapters promised by Costner." | Photo: Warner Bros

For his fourth outing as a director Kevin Costner gets back in the saddle for another exploration of America’s roots, already visited in Dances With Wolves and Open Range.

Clearly this is a passion project which at more than three hours’ running time may just test the patience of some of the audience. It has all the hallmarks of a production destined for a television mini-series with apparently three other chapters promised by Costner.

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Set in 1859 the narrative covers the territories that extend from Wyoming to Kansas, focusing on the violence that flares between the settlers and the indigenous tribes.

For anyone starved of what used to be a Hollywood staple genre Costner delivers many of the traditional ingredients with stunning landscapes, colourful characters including the man himself as a grumpy horse trader although he doesn’t appear until about an hour in.

Horizon is a settlement which only is beginning to take faltering shape, not helped by raids from the warring Apaches whose actions are viewed with a certain sympathy even if we know the outcome will not be in their favour.

Among the catalogue of characters Sienna Miller makes a believable frontierswoman trying to save herself and her daughter after the death of her husband and son. Eventually she’s taken care of by an army lieutenant (played by a dashing Sam Worthington). Luke Wilson makes a strong contribution as the leader of the wagon train, making its way inexorably Westwards.

There are plenty of other strong characters to whet the interest but what they seem to lack is a strong story arc to bind them together. Costner has a tendency to indulge his taste for a meandering narrative which stems from the overblown script by him and Jon Baird.

The best attitude as a spectator is to let it wallow over you, admire Costner’s commitment and ambition and the sumptuous photography of those wide open spaces by Michael Muro. John Debney’s rich score wraps it all up with resonances of Westerns of yore - except they did not usually last this long. With the daunting prospect lingering of three more chapters in the works, and possibly a fourth, prepare for saddle sores along the way.

Reviewed on: 03 Jun 2024
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Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1 packshot
An epic spanning the Civil War from 1861 to 1865.

Director: Kevin Costner

Writer: Jon Baird, Kevin Costner

Starring: Kevin Costner, Jena Malone, Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Isabelle Fuhrman, Michael Angarano, Michael Rooker, Abbey Lee, Jamie Campbell Bower, Jeff Fahey, Thomas Haden Church, Giovanni Ribisi, Danny Huston, Tom Payne, Will Patton

Year: 2024

Runtime: 181 minutes

Country: US


Cannes 2024

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