White Mane

"Excellent"

White Mane Review


A lesser-known short by the French master filmmaker Albert Lamorisse, whose Red Balloon is an all-time classic, White Mane is a beautiful but somewhat disturbing allegory that looks at first glance like a boy's adventure story, but actually contains real good vs. evil battles that can only be interpreted as a reflection of Lamorisse's own post-war angst.

Shot in stunningly bright black and while in 1953, just eight years after the war's end and featuring narration co-written by the great James Agee, White Mane takes us to a vast marsh in southern France where herds of wild horses roam free. The horse known as White Mane, who stands out because of his coloration, is a herd leader and much sought after by the French cowboys who ride around the marsh trying to capture and break horses. Rounded up and taken to a pen, White Mane resists captivity and escapes dramatically, and the incident is observed by a boy named Folco (Alain Emery), who lives a subsistence existence with his fisherman grandfather and too-cute toddler brother (Lamorisse's own son) in the middle of the marsh.

The cowboy's next technique is to flush the horses out of the marsh by setting a grass fire, but White Mane avoids them again and attacks once more. At that point they give up, and Folco moves in to try to adopt the horse with gentle persuasion. White Mane is happy to team up with him. Their time together comes to a sudden end when White Mane races off to save his herd from the cowboys, is captured again, and is forced to fight another large male horse. It's a tough and gruesome battle (you'll wonder how Lamorisse filmed it), but once again White Mane escapes and returns to Folco, who lovingly nurses him back to health.

When the cowboys return one more time, they set off a long and difficult chase, with Folco (who always wears white) riding White Mane bareback across the marsh at breakneck speed while the cowboys (on black horses) pursue them. Waiting for a happy ending? Prepare instead to have an existential crisis as Lamorisse wraps things up in a truly shocking way that will haunt you (and prove a bit much for children to endure). When the ominous narrator says that Folco and White Man are heading for "a wonderful place where men and horses live always as friends," you'll immediately realize that he's asking what hatred is all about, and what causes war, and why, as they say, we all can't just get along. If the boy and the horse can't find peace in the marsh, then they'll just have to go look for it somewhere else.

For a 50-minute film, White Mane gives you a whole lot to think about and to remember.

Aka Crin-blanc.

This horse can even walk on water.



White Mane

Facts and Figures

Run time: 40 mins

In Theaters: Wednesday 13th January 1954

Distributed by: Janus Films

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 4 / 5

IMDB: 7.3 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director: Albert Lamorisse

Producer: Albert Lamorisse

Starring: Alain Emery as Folco, the boy, as narrator-English

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