Home Action The greatest western of the decade: Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone sequel is a breathtaking ride through hope and violence

The greatest western of the decade: Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone sequel is a breathtaking ride through hope and violence

by Han

Yellowstone star Kevin Costner has poured millions of his money into the multi-part western epic Horizon. What came out of it?

A wooden stake is driven into the ground, a string comes off it and draws a neat line across the grass and undergrowth. These are the measurements for a house. Wood and thread, that is the dream of the settlers in 1861 on this stretch of river on the other side of the American border. Two years later, all that remains of their dream is dust. The stakes stand over their graves.

This is how Kevin Costner opens his new western epic Horizon, which has just celebrated its world premiere at the Cannes Film Festival. In it, Costner tells stories of violent land seizures on the one hand and defense by the indigenous population on the other. The patch of land along the river is part of the panorama that is to be unfolded in a total of four Horizon films.

Starting with the first film, one wishes him all the money in the world for the realization of this plan. With Horizon, Kevin Costner delivers a visually stunning ride through breathtaking landscapes, strong in dialog, uncompromising in its old-fashioned narrative joy and a journey through time. Not just to the year 1861, but to the early nineties. The Western era of Dances with Wolves, Merciless and Tombstone is resurrected

Horizon in Cannes: The western epic has a huge ensemble

Costner and co-writer Jon S. Baird cast their net of characters across several territories, cultures and years. As the Civil War rages, expansion into the western part of the North American continent continues. On the banks of the San Pedro Valley in present-day Arizona, a settlement is attacked by Apache warriors. It is a horrifying sequence that dominates the first half hour of the movie. Frances (Sienna Miller) survives and stands with her daughter (Georgia MacPhail) in front of the graves of her husband and son – and nothingness.

Watch the trailer for Horizon:


Responsibility for the atrocities lies with Pionsenay (Owen Crow Shoe), who will no longer stand idly by, Responsibility for the atrocities lies with Pionsenay (Owen Crow Shoe), who will no longer stand idly by as the newcomers oppress his people.

A thousand kilometers away, Ellen (Jena Malone) is building a new life in Wyoming Territory. She has no idea that her husband’s family (including Jamie Campbell Bower) has tracked her down. There we also meet Hayes (Kevin Costner), who is surprisingly good with a rifle for an ordinary miner.

This is an excerpt of the characters and storylines, which are carefully laid out so that an overview is always maintained. However, it would be pointless to explain the details at this point. Firstly, because you should throw yourself headlong into this impressive old-school cinematic epic and secondly, because it’s not so much the story stages that count as dwelling on conversations, moods and tensions.

The “Wild” West is presented in Horizon as a paradisiacal haven of violence. These inner contrasts run through the movie. On the one hand, there are the stunning natural panoramas of fabulously colorful mountain ridges and autumnal seas of leaves. Probably not since James Cameron’s Avatar blockbusters has there been a major American production that has placed so much emphasis on nature as an effect. And this one doesn’t come from a computer. On the other hand, death lurks in Horizon, where children are already wielding loaded guns or bows and arrows.

Horizon already feels like four westerns in one

From the outside, Horizon has the symptoms of a star vehicle staring us in the face, comparable to Kevin Costner’s previous directorial efforts Dances with Wolves and the post-apocalyptic western Postman. Costner has been pursuing the idea for the movie since 1988, he revealed to Deadline. His renewed popularity since the hit series Yellowstone made the realization possible. He invested millions and took out a mortgage on his four-acre property in California. He risked being written out of Yellowstone because of the filming. All for Horizon. Costner is director, co-writer, producer, actor, financier, poster subject.

(Kevin Costner in Horizon An American Saga)

(Kevin Costner in Horizon An American Saga)

In the ensemble, he nevertheless cuts a fairly inconspicuous figure. As in Open Range, Costner plays a Western hero who tries to scrape the coagulated blood from his hands in anonymity. He leaves the spotlight to his co-stars, such as Sienna Miller as a battered settler widow who finds new hope in the good-natured eyes of officer Sam Worthington. Or Abbey Lee as a resilient girl-friend. The screenplay is based on classic western characters, but there is room to fill the clichés with life, right down to the smallest roles. The 181-minute running time really pays off here.

That’s why Horizon already feels like three or four westerns in one. So many perspectives are juxtaposed and illuminated that the three hours fly by.

Horizon 2 to 4 can’t come fast enough

The isolation of the indigenous cast remains a single, but major, downer, with expressive moments for their part, but no equally engaging story. This could be rectified in later films. But it could go back to the concept of Horizon. The movie is driven by the movement to the West. Costner is most interested in the settlers, at least in Part 1, and the motives and (blind) hopes that drive these people to the West.

(Sienna Miller in Horizon)

(Sienna Miller in Horizon)

This movement across the continent will bring some of the characters together in the next three films. How this will happen remains open after the end of the first film and the second can’t get to theaters fast enough.

The result of the big story told in Horizon can be seen in its analytical, cold form on the map of the United States. In the US states whose borders – as straight as a wooden stake – have been drawn across the land and graves of entire peoples

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