"Passion, you see, can be destroyed by a doctor. It cannot be created."
— Martin Dysart
A play by Peter Shaffer that opened in 1973, Equus
became a film in 1977 also written by Shaffer. In the play and film, a psychiatrist, Martin Dysart is called to investigate the case of a stableboy named Alan Strang. Alan, out of a religious and sexual fascination with horses, savagely blinded six horses with a metal spike. As he examines the boy, and his fascination, Dysart starts to have doubts about whether he can really help him, or whether turning people to a "normal" way of thinking is always the right thing to do.
The film features examples of:
- Bad Dreams: Dysart's Greece dream in scene 4, and Alan's frequent dreams concerning "Ek" or Equus.
- Bestiality Is Depraved: Alan can't distinguish between affection for horses and sexual attraction.
- Dawson Casting: Frequently done with regards to 17-year-old Alan for understandable reasons. Peter Firth, the originator of the role, was twenty-four years old when the film version starring him was released. Averted by the 2007 West End revival (you know, the one that got the Moral Guardians up in arms).
- Dysfunctional Family: The Strangs. Frank and Dora are of wildly differing personalities and perspectives, and their strongly conflicting views of how to treat their son only contribute to his psychosis.
- Eye Scream: The blinding of the horses.
- Full Frontal Assault: Alan's attack on the horses is done in the nude.
- Male Frontal Nudity: The script calls for the actor playing Alan to appear naked on stage. Predictably, the production starring Daniel Radcliffe spawned countless jokes about Harry Potter showing his "wand."
- Actually, the script only calls for the actor playing Alan to mime stripping, never actually requiring any nudity. Radcliffe took it upon himself to nude it up.
- Minimalism: The original play features, among other aspects, only one setting and actors or dancers in lieu of horses; very much averted in the film version, naturally.
- Never My Fault: Dora, who says the reason her son's blinding the horses is because he's possessed by the devil.
- Shout Out: There's a reference to "standing in the darkness, stabbing at heads" which seems to refer to the play Agamemnon by Aeschylus.
- Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The play was inspired by a headline of an actual horse blinding; Peter Shaffer then devised the story of his play from the ground up.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Or rather, the horses—we're not told their fate after Alan blinds them, although one can guess.
- Not necessarily, most barns have some blind or half-blind horse that get along quite fine and can even be ridden. Remember that a horse's primary senses are hearing and smell.
- Interesting, since a horse's eyes are the largest of any land mammal.