The New York Times reviews “The Colt”

Original review from The New York Times

A Colt Born on a Battlefield, When Men Were Gallant
By ANITA GATES
Published: July 9, 2005

You might expect a movie about an adorable newborn animal who melts the hearts of soldiers at war to be syrupy, sentimental and not worth the viewing time of anyone older than 8. But “The Colt,” which has its premiere tonight on the Hallmark Channel, is only sentimental. And that sentimentality is tempered by several nicely understated performances and a painfully realistic ending.

“The Colt” is a modest, deliberately gentle film, written by Stephen Harrigan and based on a short story by the Nobel Prize-winning Russian novelist Mikhail A. Sholokhov.

Ryan Merriman, whose first big role was as the kidnapped son of Michelle Pfeiffer and Treat Williams in the 1999 film “The Deep End of the Ocean,” plays Jim Rabb, a baby-faced Union soldier in the Civil War. As the film begins, Jim is writing a letter to his parents, informing them as carefully as he can of his brother’s death.

Soon afterward, a horse that belongs to Jim’s unit gives birth. Another soldier looks at the newborn colt and announces, “We’re gonna have to shoot it.” Jim is ordered to do so, because the animal would be a hindrance, but he can’t pull it off; neither can a second soldier. A third says to his superior officer: “That colt is helpless, and shooting it wouldn’t be the gallant thing to do. Sir.”

This is not necessarily a film about gallantry, but isn’t it nice to be reminded that it may have once been a moral value shared by men in war? Another sensitive voice is that of Tom Covington (Darcy Belsher), a war illustrator from New York, who observes of the animal, born near a battlefield, “The first feeling he knew on this earth was terror.”

But Tom is not without fault. When he objects to a sergeant’s looking at his sketches because they’re his private property, the sergeant says, “Maybe these men’s deaths were their private property,” suggesting that the debate over the public’s right to know and the news media’s invasion of privacy started a long time ago.

“The Colt” is the kind of wise, tolerant war movie that makes a point of showing soldiers on both sides of the conflict as thoroughly human. The most memorable example of that is the scene in which Jim confronts (and shoots) a Confederate soldier (Richard Kahan) who has stolen the horses. The man tells Jim that his name is Isaac Silsbee, that he is from Charleston and that he is sorry for the killing he has done. And he begs Jim, “Don’t leave me here to die alone.”

The film, directed by Yelena Lanskaya, romanticizes war, as most films on the subject do to some degree (even “Saving Private Ryan,” after the Omaha Beach horrors). But it also clearly celebrates war’s opposite. In another letter to his parents, Jim writes, “This colt is a consolation to me, and a reminder that God will allow so much grief and destruction to visit this world and still create a new life.”

Directed by Yelena Lanskaya; Robert Halmi Sr., executive producer; teleplay by Stephen Harrigan; Jon Joffin, director of photography; Misha Segal, composer; Matthew Budgeon, production designer; casting by Lynn Kressel; produced by Matthew O’Conner. Production by Hallmark Entertainment Presents Colt Productions Inc., with Comweb Film Capital Corporation.

WITH: Ryan Merriman (Jim Rabb), Steve Bacic (Sergeant Longacre), Darcy Belsher (Tom Covington), William MacDonald (Sergeant Woodruff) and Richard Kahan (Isaac Silsbee).

On DVD

The 4400 Complete Series The 4400
Complete Series

Role: Marco
Order: Region 1/Region 2

Masters of Horror Masters of Horror:
Sounds Like

Role: David
Order: Region 1/Region 2
More Merchandise

Archives

Categories

Site Info

Opened: August 15th, 2006
Owner: Rach
Credits: here
Hosts: Surpass Hosting