The Horse Whisperer (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

July 4, 2012 by  

“The Horse Whisperer” is a touching film featuring a wonderful performance by Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas and a younger Scarlett Johannson.  Also, featuring beautiful cinematography of the countryside and a beautiful musical score.  It is a long film, slowly paced but in the end, the film was enjoyable.  “The Horse Whisperer” on Blu-ray is recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2012 Buena Vista Home Entertainment. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Horse Whisperer


DURATION: 169 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, French 5.1 and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital, Subtitles:English SDH, French and Spanish

COMPANY: Touchstone Home Entertainment

RATED: PG-13 (For Sexual Content and Language)

Release Date: July 3, 2012

Directed by Robert Redford

Novel by Nick Evans

Screenplay by Eric Roth, Richard LaGravenese

Producer: Patrick Markey, Robert Redford

Co-Producer: Joseph P. Reidy

Executive Producer: Rachel Pfeffer

Associate Producer: Karen Tenkhoff

Music by Thomas Newman, Gwil Owen

Cinematography by Robert Richardson

Edited by Hank Corwin, Freeman A. Davies, Tom Rolf

Casting by Ellen Chenoweth, Gretchen Rennell

Production Design by Jon hutman

Art Direction by W. Steven Graham

Set Decoration by Gretchen Rau, Hilton Rosemarin

Costume Design by Judy L. Ruskin


Robert Redford as Tom Booker

Kristin Scott Thomas as Annie MacLean

Sam Neill as Robert MacLean

Dianne Weist as Diane Booker

Scarlett Johansson as Grace Maclean

Chris Cooper as Frank Booker

Cherry Jones as Liz Hammond

Ty Hillman as Joe Booker

Kate Bosworth as Judity

Relive every heartwarming moment of The Horse Whisperer, presented for the first time on Blu-ray, featuring new digital restoration with enhanced picture and sound. Academy Award winner Robert Redford (Best Director, 1980, Ordinary People), Academy Award nominee Kristin Scott Thomas (Best Actress, 1996, The English Patient), Sam Neill, and Scarlett Johansson star in a landmark motion picture for the entire family.

After a devastating riding accident, a young girl and her beloved horse are left with serious physical and emotional scars. When her mother calls on the “Horse Whisperer” to help, she meets a rugged rancher who not only has an extraordinary gift with animals, but also an ability to enrich the lives of people around him. Enjoy this majestic film like never before on Blu-ray.

In 1995, English author Nicholas Evans’ novel, “The Horse Whisperer” was a best selling novel, selling over 15 million copies and becoming one of the best-selling books of all time.

While it was no surprise that a film adaptation would be made, it was more surprising to see actor Robert Redford not only star in the film but also direct it.

The film would receive good reviews and would make over $186 million in the box office.  And now, “The Horse Whisperer” will be released on Blu-ray in July 2012.

“The Horse Whisperer” begins on a winter day with teenager Grace MacLean (as portrayed by Scarlett Johannson) meeting up with her best friend Judith (as portrayed by Kate Bosworth).  Judith has exciting news to tell Grace about a guy she met.  So, Grace takes her horse Pilgrim and Judith takes Gulliver out for a ride to talk about the guy that Judith met.  But while Judith and Gulliver are going up a slope, Gulliver slips and crashes into Grace and Pilgrim.

Judith’s foot gets caught in the saddle and she and her horse are stuck on the road.  Meanwhile, a big rig is coming through but as the driver tries to brake, Grace who tried to help her friend is unable to and both Judith and Gulliver are killed instantly.  As for Grace and Pilgrim, Pilgrim throws Grace off and is hit by the big rig.

Grace is airlifted into the hospital and her parents Robert (as portrayed by Sam Neill) and her mother Annie (as portrayed by Kristin Scott Thomas) find out from the doctor that her right leg will be partially amputated due to the injury that she had received.  Meanwhile, Pilgrim is found alive and is in terrible shape and traumatized.  When the horse tries to get the OK from Annie to put the horse out of its misery, Annie declines and so the horse is tranquilized and receives medical help.

Months later, both Robert and Annie try to help their daughter who is now emotionally withdrawn.  She no longer wants to go to school and when she sees Pilgrim’s injuries, it is too much for her to take in.

Meanwhile, Annie has read a story about a “horse whisperer” named Tom Booker (as portrayed by Robert Redford) who has helped horses in the Montana area. In order to get the help from Tom, Annie makes the decision to bring both Pilgrim and Annie to Montana in hopes that Tom will help her family in the healing process for both Grace and Pilgrim.

So, as Annie and Grace temporarily stay at the Booker Ranch with Tom’s brother Frank (as portrayed by Chris Cooper) and his wife Diane (as portrayed by Dianne Wiest) and the entire family, Tom tries to see if he can help Pilgrim but in hopes that it will also heal Grace.

And as Grace and Pilgrim slowly overcome their trauma, Annie and Tom begin to have romantic feelings for each other, despite the fact that Annie is married.

Will Tom be able to help Grace and Pilgrim?  And what happens when Annie’s husband comes to visit them in Montana?


“The Horse Whisperer” is presented in 1080p High Definition (2:35:1) and features an all new digital restoration.

The overall transfer is definitely an upgrade over the previous DVD release. While slight layer of grain can be seen, there is a slight use of DNR as the film looks very clean and sometimes soft.  Fortunately, Touchstone Home Entertainment was able to find a balance and showcase the wonderful cinematography of Robert Richardson (“Shutter Island”, “Inglourious Basterds”, “Kill Bill: Vol. 1”).  Some of the scenery shots, especially the vignette shots look fantastic in HD.

Overall, picture quality is very good and for those who owned the previous DVD release, will enjoy the HD upgrade.


“The Horse Whisperer” is presented in English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, French 5.1 and Spanish 2.0 Dolby Digital.  While the primary soundtrack is dialogue-driven through the center and front-channels, the musical score by Thomas Newman and Gwil Owen is fantastic and sounds amazing via lossless.  There are moments such as the accident or the horse kicking around that can be heard through the surround channels, but for the most part, the film’s lossless soundtrack is center and front channel driven.

Subtitles are in English SDH, French and Spanish


“The Horse Whisperer”  comes with the following special features:

  • Production Featurette – (1:52) A short production featurette with interviews with Robert Redford.
  • Robert Redford Featurette – (1:32) A short featurette on Robert Redford acting and directing “The Horse Whisperer”.
  • Buck Brannaman Featurette – (1:42) Robert Redford talks about how his character role was inspired by Buck Brannaman, Buck Brannaman talks about his involvement in the film.
  • Allison Moorer’s “A Soft Place to Fall” Music Video  – (4:06) A country music video featuring Allison Moorer.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:07) The original theatrical trailer for “The Horse Whisperer”.
  • Theatrical Teaser – (:57) The theatrical teaser for “The Horse Whisperer”.

“The Horse Whisperer” is a delightful and entertaining film showcasing a teenager and a horse that has faced amazing trauma and come to Montana under the help of a man with the special ability to help horses.

While long at 169 minutes, Robert Redford takes the audience and sets the pace of the challenge that exist between Grace and her mother Annie, a workaholic editor but also the sadness that she tries to keep inside after losing her right leg.

Robert Redford is fantastic as a director and actor in the film and it helps that Redford has amazing talent alongside with him.  Cinematographer Robert Richardson captures the beauty of Montana but also making sure the audience sees the interaction between the characters and the horses.  Along with the beautiful cinematography, the musical by Thomas Newman and Gwil Owen manages to capture the variety of emotions of the characters as Grace tries to get back to her life, while Annie and Tom develop a closer relationship.

And as Kristin Scott Thomas does a great job of playing a mother who is not sure about being a mother (but trying her best now after her daughter’s injury) and discovering life outside of the big city, the film showed great promise at the time with  actress Scarlett Johansson.  Scarlett manages to capture a teenager who has suffered amazing physical and emotional trauma and Redford manages to bring out her acting with efficacy.

But while some people may feel the film is tool long and unnecessary, when I first watched this film many years ago and even now, I still feel the pacing of the film, to build upon character development was necessary and helped establish all three main characters.

The character of Tom is quite content of living in Montana, while Annie is often wondering how anyone can be so far from the city and not having major restaurants, shopping, etc.  As for Grace, she is emotionally withdrawn and her injury and how long it takes for her to put her trust in Tom and getting the courage to get close to Pilgrim takes time.  Even Pilgrim took some time in order to get used to being closed to Tom.  If anything, the horse trainers on set, did a wonderful job in making the horses react to the characters.

There is a romantic angle that involves Annie and Tom.  We know that Annie who was a workaholic had an unfulfilled marriage to Tom.  But as both she and Tom become more attracted towards each other, it’s interesting to see how Tom’s sister-in-law reacts to her.  She knows that Tom also needed some time to heal after the death of his wife and now with this amazing talent, the last thing she wants is her brother-in-law getting involved with a married woman.

As for the Blu-ray release, the same special features on the original DVD is included.  The upgrade featuring an all-new digital restoration is what should make fans of the film decide to upgrade to Blu-ray.  The film looks and sounds beautiful, but I know that videophiles wanting more grain and no DNR maybe disappointed but for those wanting clear picture quality, they should be thrilled by “The Horse Whisperer” being released in HD.

Overall, “The Horse Whisperer” is a touching film featuring a wonderful performance by Robert Redford, Kristin Scott Thomas and a younger Scarlett Johannson.  Also, featuring beautiful cinematography of the countryside and a beautiful musical score.  It is a long film, slowly paced but in the end, the film was enjoyable.

“The Horse Whisperer” on Blu-ray is recommended!


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