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The Horse Boy (2009)

7.3
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Ratings: 7.3/10 from 537 users   Metascore: 64/100
Reviews: 10 user | 31 critic | 16 from Metacritic.com

OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY chronicles the journey of the Isaacson family as they travel through Mongolia in search of a mysterious shaman who they believe can heal their autistic son. This... See full summary »

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Cast

Cast overview:
Rupert Isaacson ...
Himself - Narrator
Kristin Neff ...
Herself
Rowan Isaacson ...
Himself
Kendal Stewart ...
Himself (as Dr. Kendal Stewart)
...
Herself (as Dr. Temple Grandin)
Dale Rudin ...
Herself (as Dr. Dale Rudin)
Simon Baron-Cohen ...
Himself (as Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen)
Roy Richard Grinker ...
Himself (as Dr. Roy Richard Grinker)
Edit

Storyline

OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY chronicles the journey of the Isaacson family as they travel through Mongolia in search of a mysterious shaman who they believe can heal their autistic son. This film delves into the strange world of autism, horses, shamanism, and Mongolia while telling the story of a family that will go to the end of the earth to find a way into their son's life. Written by Michel O. Scott

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

How far would you travel to heal someone you love? See more »

Genres:

Documentary

Certificate:

Unrated | See all certifications »
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Details

Official Sites:

| |  »

Country:

Language:

Release Date:

18 November 2011 (Germany)  »

Also Known As:

Over the Hills and Far Away  »

Filming Locations:

 »

Box Office

Budget:

$160,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend:

$6,554 (USA) (2 October 2009)

Gross:

$155,984 (USA) (5 February 2010)
 »

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Color:

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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User Reviews

 
shows what it's really like
18 December 2009 | by (Ipswich MA) – See all my reviews

As one who was already pretty knowledgeable about autism and familiar with Mongolian shamanism, I found these pictures extremely interesting. I haven't seen anything else remotely like this, with its very real scenes of inconsolable tantrums, outrageous drug regimens, traveling with incontinence, frazzled parents, unexpected fondnesses, blue flowers, and frame drums. Sure there's some selective editing going on, maybe even bordering on impressing an overall narrative on a series of events that didn't really flow so linearly. And sure some of the magic is a little hard for our Enlightenment rationalism to just observe without trying to impose some evaluation or judgment. Who cares? In any case gobs of reality show through, and they're much closer to being there than anything else you've ever seen (unless maybe you've watched a whole lot of research footage taken through a one-way mirror). Besides, it's so refreshing to me to finally see a film about autism that does _not_ include a hand flapping scene.

I suspect some of the things in this film will seem pretty strange to most viewers, and others will only be grasped superficially; I can't say that for sure, because for me that viewing openness has already gone by and I can't get it back. I'm pretty sure though that enough will be familiar that viewers can retain their bearings - you needn't be concerned about being surreally swept away into some entirely different world.

In one scene, some offhand explanatory remarks are offered while mixing the daily drug cocktail. Those comments will probably seem innocuous or unremarkable to most. But if you've already got a laundry list of (mostly wildly speculative) possible autism treatments in your head, it becomes clear they're already trying pretty much all of them.

I know from other films that Mongolian scenery can be quite arresting. Some of the landscapes can be achingly beautiful, drawing you into a story all by themselves. But while the landscapes here are indeed striking, they're not drop-dead gorgeous. Maybe it's something about the hand-held camera format, or maybe it's some insufficiency of depth of focus, or maybe the resolution isn't quite high enough, or maybe the timing's too short, or... I'm not enough of a film-techno-freak to figure out why it is - I just know this film's less about the scenery than might be expected. .

The philosophy is pretty light: nobody hits you over the head with anything, but in the end there's no question what the parents think either. Personally I already bought into the same philosophy the film presents: given the reality of people with "different" brain structures, societies might be better served by integrating them and making them productive than by trying to divide the "sick" and the "well" by too bright a line. And there's a difference --unfortunately too often lost-- between "curing autism" and "no longer driving folks nuts" (either by mitigating a few problem behaviors or by re-framing reactions to them so they lose their potency).

To me, the part that best summarized the point of view was Dr. Temple Grandin reiterating her statement that if she could magically wave away her autism, she wouldn't. Although there's weirdness and uncomfortableness here, there's great value here too.

This is not a film about the wider significance, possible epidemic, worldwide incidence, or current medical handling of autism. What it is about is one family that was given some lemons and how they're making lemonade. The biggest message I got was "pay attention!" Not everybody can --or should-- take their child to Mongolia. But everybody can try hard to understand and react to their child just as they really are, and that's what makes all the difference.


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