The Horse Whisperer is the name of a 1995 novel by Nicholas Evans and of a 1998 film adaptation of it. The latter was directed by Robert Redford. The main stars were Redford himself (directing himself for the first time onscreen), Kristin Scott Thomas and Scarlett Johansson.The film begins on a winter morning, with teenagers Grace MacLean (Johansson) and Judith (Kate Bosworth) taking their horses for a ride. An accident involving an icy slope and a truck results in Judith and her horse being instantly killed. Grace and her horse, Pilgrim, survive but are badly injured. Grace loses part of her leg in the subsequent surgery.Some time later, the duo have recovered as well as expected. Their bodies are healthy, but the resulting trauma is everpresent. Grace is bitter and withdrawn, Pilgrim wild and uncontrollable. Annie MacLean (Scott Thomas) senses that the two will have to recover together. She calls for Tom Booker (Redford), the titular horse whisperer.The story explores both the recovery and the mutual attraction developed between the two adults. Which is confusing for them as Annie is still married and Tom is recovering from a divorce. The film received mostly positive reviews. While critics praised the "exquisitively crafted, morally and thematically mature picture", several felt it was overly long and dull. It was also a box office hit, earning $186,883,563 worldwide. It earned $75,383,563 in the United States, the 27th most successful film of its year.
This film provides examples of:
- And Starring: Scarlett Johansson receives an "Introducing" credit. It wasn't her first movie (it was her seventh).
- Artistic License – Animal Care: As The Other Wiki explains, both the book and film's final session with Pilgrim being hobbled, roped and forced on the ground, followed by Grace riding him and the two being miraculously cured is not much rooted in reality, and would rather have been a very dangerous situation. The same article also points out that a horse going through an accident such as Pilgrim did might develop a fear for vehicles, roads and/or steep slopes, but would likely not have a complete change in personality and manner as he does. The Pilgrim in the book and film behaves more like a horse having been exposed to long-term animal abuse than simply having been in an accident.
- Bittersweet Ending: The book and film have two very different versions: in the book, Tom Booker dies while saving Grace from a ferocious wild mustang. Annie later finds out she's pregnant, and while she can't tell if Robert or Tom is the father, the pregnancy helps her back on her feet and healing the relationship between her, Grace and Robert (though she and Robert separates). In the film, Tom stays alive, but Annie is unable to hurt her family and leaves while Tom watches after her from horseback on a hill.
- Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: In the book, Annie commits adultery because she's fallen in love with Tom Booker. The two of them are portrayed as nothing but sympathetic, despite the fact that Annie's deeply distressed daughter Grace is involved. Annie's husband is a nice guy and devoted family man. Tom dies in order to save Grace's life in what could be construed as an act of Redemption Equals Death.
- Interrupted Suicide: In the book, Grace runs away on Pilgrim and decides to burn down a cabin with herself inside when she learns about her mom and Tom. However, she ends up being surrounded by a herd of wild mustang with an aggressive stallion, with Tom coming to her rescue and sacrificing himself in the process.
- In-Universe Catharsis: The experience both Grace and Pilgrim undergo.
- No, Except Yes: When Diane asks if Annie was fired, Annie denies it at first, and then admits, "Yeah, I was fired."
- Noun Verber
- Spared by the Adaptation: Tom Booker. In the book, Tom Booker throws himself at a murderous wild stallion to solve Annie's choice between staying with her husband or going with Tom. Really, he does. In the film, it simply ends with Annie leaving and Tom looking after her from a hill, alive and well.
- Scenery Porn: Everything in Montana.
- Who's Your Daddy?: In the epilogue of the book, Annie has a baby, and is unable to tell for sure whether Robert or Tom is the father, though it is implied to be Tom's.