On every comprehensive list of the greatest movies of all time, The Wizard of Oz (1939) stands out as a watershed moment in horse cinema. Inside the blue horse there is a pain foraged from the gut of gorges. Suddenly, the horse has gone magenta. She spills the beans. Swelling in every tear duct. Full gullets: their contents, rotten forest fruit. She is green now.
Seabiscuit (2003) wins your heart in a poker game marked by gunfire.
Can you deny Black Beauty (1921) when it is harassing your women? Do your muscles bulge like muslin sacks of corn when it shatters your bay windows in an act of attrition? You know, faltering is an option in this orange light.
I’ve felt it, the calm dentistry. It was National Velvet (1944) which asked of me difficult, strenuous rescues, pushed down the bullies when they spat sleet, calloused my knuckles.
Modern masterpiece, The Godfather (1972), bloodies your sheets in accidental birth. Here is a thunder that is relentless. Even the crude palate can taste a wince, a wetness, a scream the viscosity of oil. Also, what a pleasure to watch a head like an owl’s turn, and turn, and turn.
Wildfire (1945) will burn down your apartment complex and tell your parents you were notorious for falling asleep with lit cigarettes in your foolish, foolish mouth!
We’ve Die Unendliche Geschichte (1984) to do. We’ve earth to sink into, soil to swallow. Again, the bullies pursue, but we sink. They walk over us, oblivious.
The one truth revealed in My Friend Flicka (1943) is that, when properly maintained and greased, shotguns pose no imminent threat to your children. Still, when confronted by any number of masked vigilantes, fight through your tears.
The Red Pony (1949) is willing to die for petty victories. For horse movies. For the Boy Scouts of America. For jubilation.
Let’s not get into Giant (1956). Not right now, not at the autopsy. Not at the spelling bee.
I was all sagging sorrow at the premier of The Painted Stallion (1937). No one knew my name there — I crammed into a seat in the midst of shotgun children, the sleetspit bullies, the skin graft families. Raw eyelid curtains slid over the cataract screen and I slunk like a nickel into the seat fold. Sound of the reel roll. I felt responsible for the victims of the Texas Hold ‘Em debacle, the spirited side-saddle murder ride, all those Conestoga collisions, arrows jamming the wheel wells. In my chest rattled the death knells. When the lights in the auditorium rose, I was a conflagration. I brayed. I lost my head.
Oh, Equus (1977), you’ve become my reality. Investigate the absence of my eyes.