Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1 | Third Space
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Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1

Is the world ready for another Western four-part epic?
Thu 4 Jul 2024

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⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ (out of 5)

From Dances With Wolves to Yellowstone, few actors have managed to conquer cinema and television like Kevin Costner. His career has had well-documented highs and lows, accompanied by rumours of his hubris and meticulous nature. Yet, recent events involving the clash between Tyler Sheridan’s production and Costner’s passion project, Horizon: An American Saga, have made headline lines for all of the wrong reasons. As the dust has settled on all the speculation about these two Hollywood heavyweights, audiences are left with two realities. Yellowstone is in disarray and a four-part epic that focusses on the settling of the Wild West by the Academy Award-winning director himself.

Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 is the first chapter of this multi-layered tale with multiple starting points that all focus on reaching the speculated oasis in the American West. As the story unfolds, Costner shows how America changed as immigrants poured across the Mississippi River and hoped for a new life on the uncharted frontier. As they began to lay claim to the lands of the indigenous tribes that were scattered across the land, they faced opposition and threats to their lives and families. The 15-year journey of this series begins during the pre-Civil War era. It shows how the eventual divide occurring in the Eastern States still affected the pioneers as they were attempting to make a life for themselves. Still, the Native Americans needed to determine if they would accept these invaders or do all they could to fight for their hunting grounds.

As viewers settle in for the three-hour-long journey, there is a familiarity to this hero’s tale that shows that there are villains and protectors on both sides of this historic battle. There are aspects of Dances with Wolves, Yellowstone’s 1883 and Silverado woven into this twisted mosaic of a narrative that incorporates every aspect of the pioneer passage across the plains of America. Unlike many of these recognisable story elements, the line between good and evil remains in a grey palette that makes it difficult to know who to be cheering for along the way. The cinematography is stunning, and most cast members manage to fulfil their roles with convincing form. Yet, like the meandering path of the wagon trails, this chapter takes some time to get going, as audiences will need to get acquainted with the many characters being introduced.

As each storyline unfolds, some lines are stronger than others. The standouts in this first chapter would be that of First Lt. Trent Gephardt (Sam Worthington) and the widower Frances Kittredge (Sienna Miller). Costner gets the most out of this tragic settler tale that involves noteworthy performances from Michael Rooker and Alejandro Edda. Another note layer comes out through the thread concerning the vindictive Sykes family and the runaway bride, played by Jena Malone. Even Luke Wilson gets one of the best career roles as the wagon train enforcer. Interestingly, the weakest component of this whole saga must be Marigold (Abbey Lee), the mining town prostitute who plays opposite Costner’s central character, Hayes Ellison. His role has slow-burn development written all over him, but her character is miscast and unappealing on all levels.

All that to say that despite the three-hour run time, there is something worth discovering with this epic tale. It will be determined if it makes it through to cinemas in all four chapters. Still, for those willing to stay in it for the long haul, there may be something worth fighting for in the plains of the horizon of the Old West. This reviewer went in expecting a train wreck (cough, The Postman, Waterworld) and came out of the cinema wanting to know what happens next.

REEL DIALOGUE: What do you do with your dreams of the future?

I can do all things through him who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:13

We’ve been here before, as we see settlers travelling across the western interior of the US. Seeing people overcome odds and achieve their dreams has a profound effect on the spirit of those along for the journey, and it continues to be a mainstay in Western cinema.

Even though most of us may never leave their homeland to find a new life on foreign shores, this should not dissuade people from pursuing their dreams. From a Christian position, goals and dreams are not merely for the individual. The actual source for these pursuits finds their roots in God and his purposes for life. Scriptures like Psalm 139 state that God makes us fearfully and wonderfully, which moves our lives from ordinary to extraordinary. Not because of who we are but because of God, the author and director of our lives.

A question that may arise from this film may be about your dreams and pursuits, but how do we discern their origin? The best place to start is to ask these questions of God through prayer and engaging with the Bible.

If you enjoy discussing the film's themes, contact our team at Third Space. We can start the conversation and connect you with those who can help you find the answer.

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