‘Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1’ Review: Kevin Costner and the Love of Ancient History

‘Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1’ Review: Kevin Costner and the Love of Ancient History
‘Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1’ Review: Kevin Costner and the Love of Ancient History

Massacre of pioneers, superb landscapes, astonishing number of characters, Native Americans, etc., Kevin Costner seems to indulge in a backward-looking attitude which, for the moment, does not lead to much… except the demonstration of the beauty of the American West.

The 181-minute feature (yes, that’s 3:01) begins in 1859 as pioneers survey the banks of a river in order to build their home there. Lured out West by a prospectus, they are soon killed by Native Americans.


Kevin Costner on the red carpet at Cannes last May for his film “Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1”.

A few years later, in 1863, the place has become a noisy and bustling town. We quickly change location and find ourselves in Montana where Frances Kittredge (Sienna Miller) and her daughter manage to survive (I’ll spare you the method) a tribe’s raid on their homes. Frances soon catches the eye of Lieutenant Trent Gephardt (Sam Worthington), a Union officer who arrived too late. In Wyoming, Marigold (Abbey Lee), a prostitute, and her son are helped by Hayes Ellison (Kevin Costner). Then, elsewhere again, Matthew Van Weyden (Luke Wilson) tries to lead pioneer wagons along the Santa Fe Trail.

There are other characters, an army, too many, some will rightly say. Because we get lost, as if Kevin Costner, author of the screenplay, and Jon S. Baird, the co-author, no longer knew where to turn in the mountain of documents chronicling this irresistible advance of the Americans towards the West.


Kevin Costner on the set of “Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1”.

We will have understood that the director of He dances with wolves does not do things by halves or half measures. He paints his characters with broad strokes of sometimes incomprehensible dialogue, and scenes that are truncated somewhat abruptly (or cut out completely) during editing.

But, if the characters have almost no connection with each other for the moment (and we suspect that the connection will end up being obvious in the second part), Kevin Costner takes his time with the landscapes. The superb and majestic nature then unfolds before the viewer, helping him understand the appeal of the western. Yes, we are waiting for the second part, not because it is a masterpiece, but to know where the filmmaker wants to go. Because, unfortunately, this chapter 1 does not provide any answers.

Photo courtesy of WARNER BROS

Rating: 3 out of 5

Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 is currently in theaters.



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