on January 31, 2004
Don't buy the 2003 Universal Edition of this DVD. Instead, sift through the web and find the DVD released by Image Entertainment in 1998. Why? You'd be better off asking "what's in a song?"
The latest version has omitted Willie Nelson's "My Heroe's Have Always Been Cowboys" in favor of some generic faux-Western instrumental. The song was played during the opening credits and when Sonny releases Rising Star into the wild. When I watched the new version (not knowing there was a new version), I was left emotionally flat by the experience, but I couldn't figure out why. Finally, I dug up an old VHS version I'd taped off of cable several years ago and realized the change.
Call it song as metaphor, song as objective correlative...call it any theoretical term you need to. MAYBE it would not matter to a person who'd never seen the original. But I think it would (somehow). The song captures those two moments of the film -- the song makes an emotional connection. The image and the sound, the joyful melancholy, all gel perfectly.
Why'd they change it? Who knows. The rest of Willie Nelson's songs remain on the soundtrack. I tend to think that the dimwits in charge of "product" treat these films like, uh, product. The battle of art versus commerce rages on...
It matters. And I'm sick of the culture industry manipulating music and movies that have affected me.
on July 16, 2003
Advantage over old Image DVD: solid 16x9 anamorphic transfer.
Disadvantage over old Image DVD: Willie Nelson song "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" has been removed from the opening and Rising Star's final scene. It has been replaced with a less effective, generic-sounding piece of music.
"My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys" was in the theatrical release, in the ABC broadcast and on the Image DVD. I don't know if the omission is due to a technical screwup (like Universal's misframing of the "Back to the Future" sequels) or for rights issues (maybe AMPco had it removed), but the opening montage is much weaker without it. I hope the filmmakers are aware that this change has been made for this DVD release.
on March 18, 2000
This is a movie I've pulled out many times when I've wanted to watch something light and carefree. Although it isn't one of Redford's best films (or even in his top 5...6...7...), it still has a certain something that's hard for me to pin down. I don't believe I would like it nearly as well if someone other than Redford had the starring role. Although Jane Fonda is very solid as the ambitious 'pain-in-the-neck' news reporter, and Willy Nelson is surprisingly good in his supporting role (better yet, two or three of his songs run throughout the movie), it's Redford (and his boyish charm) that truly carries this film.
If you've never seen this Redford/Pollack vehicle, there are some excellent reviews that outline the basic plot (especially the November 18th review). If you're looking for something to entertain you for a couple of hours, and aren't expecting a film classic, this one will do just fine, and maybe even surprise you. Enjoy it for the horse, for the western countryside, for the romance, or just for the plain, light-hearted fun of it. Between 1 and 10, "The Electric Horseman" gets a solid 7.
on February 11, 2004
In THE ELECTRIC HORSEMAN Robert Redford plays Sonny Steele, an aging all-around champion rodeo cowboy who, as the result of numerous injuries and losing step with rodeo, has lost his vision and become a corporate spokesman for a cereal company. He somehow puts up with a lifestyle that, while making him rich beyond his dreams, has reduced him to nothing more than a poster boy. When Steele discovers that the company has purchased a classic racehorse, Rising Star, and is determined to do the same thing to the horse as they have done to him, doping it up and dragging it down in the process, he decides to save the horse's dignity and in the process saves himself as well.
Redford's performance is wonderful and spontaneous. Jane Fonda shines as a TV reporter bent on getting a story at any cost and in the end gets the cowboy too. Together Redford and Fonda pack the screen with a chemistry that quite literally mesmerizes every viewer.
Willie Nelson is terrific as a Steele handler and contributes with some of his best musical offerings and look for an early Wilford Brimley cameo.
Buy this one for the soundtrack alone. I keep hoping that one of these days Willie Nelson fans and lovers of the classic western harmonica tracks in this one will stage some sort of a revolt to get it released. Until then the movie's the next best thing.
on December 2, 2001
I first fell in love when this movie was released, and also fell in love with the film itself! It might have been because Susan, the girl I fell for, closely resembled (to my eyes, anyway!) Jane Fonda as she appears in the movie. But 21 years later, it is still one of my favorite films.
Redford's Sonny Steele is someone who fleetingly achieved supremacy in a field that burns you out and uses you up in what seems like a few heartbeats. Alcohol and drugs - "The world of illusion," as the director of the AAMPCO Las Vegas extravaganza calls it - are natural paths for escaping the mundane reality of most other ways of life. That it takes a horse, the symbol of his former excellence, to jar Steele out of his decline, is one of the many ironic facts of The Electric Horseman.
Redford and Fonda's characters are worlds apart in almost every way, and this makes their romance poignantly fated from the start. But the excitement of their journey, the overpowering beauty of the land they are crossing, and a re-kindling of lost idealism come together in passion. That they quickly find nothing to keep them together once the adventure is over speaks volumes about the transitory nature of all relationships in "modern" American society.
The moment when Rising Star - the real star of the film - is set free is one of the most beautifully photographed sequences I'v ever seen. Those 2 minutes alone are worth the cost of admission to The Electric Horseman, a movie that eloquently speaks to the fact that we often CAN become what we choose to believe.
on November 18, 1999
It's hard to like Sonny and Hallie when we first meet them. He's a tipsy has-been cowboy, unsuccessfully living off past fame, and she is an aggressive journalist out for a story and thus a little fame for herself. But then, enter a champion race horse in need of rescuing, and Sonny (Redford) becomes the heroic cavalry, kidnapping the horse and riding off into the Las Vegas night, possibly to rescue himself at the same time. Hallie(Fonda)follows and not surprisingly, but perhaps too quickly, the prickly relationship between these two turns to romance. Perhaps for a few days, during the escapades as Redford sneaks the racehorse across some lovely countryside enroute to being set free from the chains of society, these two characters find what they are truly searching for -- intimacy. The romance is fun, since both Redford and Fonda know how to do on-screen romances very well. But more than that, this is a story with its poignant moments probably more solidly captured in an indictment of advertising and corporate hype, a warning about industrial profiteering, absurd greed, and the loss of humanity. There are a few political messages forced into the plot which are distracting from the overall moral story. But for the most part this is a fun movie. The characters Redford and Fonda meet up with along their route are entertaining and very human. Not a glamorous film, but very nitty-gritty, this is an enjoyable story about caring, really. Caring about the well-being of an animal or about people, about affording living things respect rather than dressing us all up to be celebrities or consumers. It ends beautifully also, with Redford trying to hitch a ride on a lengthy stretch of lonely highway, as the camera pulls farther and farther away and Willie Nelson sings an appropriately romantic and misty song . . .
on July 14, 1999
I'm sure this is one of my favorite movies principally because it was one of the first big-screen movies I watched as a kid in the seventies, but I still love it all these years later. As some of the other reviewers have said, the plot is not incredibly profound, but it is still quite enjoyable and does carry a message. The beautiful horse and the footage of the countryside, however, are what make this film spectacular!
The scene in which Redford releases the horse to join his new wild friends, to the tune of Willie Nelson's "My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys", still brings a tear to my eye. Anyone who loves horses (or just animals....or nature!) will enjoy watching that horse gallop off to freedom. It's a beautiful sight!
For the price, this video is definitely worth owning!
on February 27, 2004
I must disagree with the "Widescreen Review" of the image on this movie. They rated it a 2 out of 5. While non-anamorphic, and retaining a certain graininess, as compared to pristinely transferred movies, I have certainly seen much worse transfers of movies. Given that the correct intro music is on the Image release and not the later Universal release, I would still recommend this disk to anyone interested in this movie.
The movie itself is a definite 4 of 5. The transfer rates about a 3.
It is, however, a bare-bones edition. Not even a main menu. Just scene selection and the movie.
on February 14, 2003
There is something at the core of this tale of redemption that tugs at me each time I watch it. It is a story of fallen champions and their search for a new beginning. Sidney Pollack is an outstanding director. He successfully weaves several themes - the role of the news media in our culture, man vs. machine, corporation vs. individual - with the Redford/ Fonda romance. The acting is subtle and strong , including the many outstanding supporting performances (Nelson, Perrine, Saxxon, Brimley, etc). The photography is breathtaking. This movie is about finding the goodness in yourself and others.
on January 10, 1999
This movie is a slow starter with the usual macho man who can't control his fame scenario. In this picture Jane Fonda serves woodenly as the female interest against Redford's usual laid back performance. The action picks up as the real star - the horse - comes into the picture. For lovers of horses this picture offers some of the best chases and insight into what goes on in a horse lover's mind. Exceptional finish. They couldn't have come up with better footage of a beautiful horse running free than this. All in all a very good picture if you ignore the human part of the plot.