A Gift Horse
Review by Ross Anthony

Breaking out of the gates with strong stride, patient disciplined pace and confidence, "Seabiscuit" eventually relaxes, but still finishes ahead of many other summer movies.

Careful, warm, rich cinematography combined with, caring, smart, detail-oriented direction bridle a lively sharp screenplay/story. This winning combination continues for the first forty-five minutes or so of this 2-hour plus production. SeabiscuitAfter that, things loosen up. With the rich host of endearing characters sketched and teamed, the story narrows, often trotting over ground already well trodden. The middle of the film is not bad, but certainly not as mighty as the films first A+ open.

As the film rounds the rail to the homestretch, it again takes on a more original demeanor.

I love the initially subtle analogy of the underdog racehorse (underhorse?) symbolizing the out of work, down and out, American spirit of the depression area citizen. Unfortunately, later this is expressed all too perfectly in words.

A beautiful, old school American film. A great cast, solid story and sweet cinematography prevail over small imperfections.

"You don't throw a whole life away just 'cause it's banged up a little."

"In any good adaptation," screenwriter/director Gary Ross explains, "what you're really being faithful to is the spirit of the book, that was my compass, that's what I wanted to make sure I was honoring. Of course I would change details and would fictionalize parts. That way, I could capture the impact of the story, the meaning of the book. So every change I made I cleared with Laura, who was wonderfully open. It was like having a great collaborator."

  • Seabiscuit. Copyright © 2003.
  • Starring Tobey Maguire, Jeff Bridges, Chris Cooper, Elizabeth Banks, Gary Stevens, William H. Macy.
  • Directed by Gary Ross.
  • Screenplay by Gary Ross.
  • Based on the book by Laura Hillenbrand.
  • Produced by Kathleen Kennedy, Frank Marshall, Garry Ross, Jane Sindell at Universal/Dreamworks/Spyglass/Larger Than Life.


Copyright © 2001. Ross Anthony, currently based in Los Angeles, has scripted and shot documentaries, music videos, and shorts in 35 countries across North America, Europe, Africa and Asia. For more reviews visit: RossAnthony.com

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Last Modified: Saturday, 16-Sep-2006 07:53:27 PDT