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The Horse Boy
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The Horse Boy (2009) More at IMDbPro »

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The Horse Boy -- 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.


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Release Date:
18 November 2011 (Germany) See more »
How far would you travel to heal someone you love? See more »
OVER THE HILLS AND FAR AWAY chronicles the journey of the Isaacson family as they travel through Mongolia... See more » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 nomination See more »
(15 articles)
War Horse
 (From Scorecard Review. 6 January 2012, 7:56 AM, PST)

Autism on film: can cinema get it right?
 (From The Guardian - Film News. 4 April 2011, 8:39 AM, PDT)

A Mother's Courage
 (From GreenCine. 27 October 2010, 11:20 AM, PDT)

User Reviews:
shows what it's really like See more (10 total) »


  (in credits order)
Rupert Isaacson ... Himself - Narrator
Kristin Neff ... Herself
Rowan Isaacson ... Himself
Kendal Stewart ... Himself (as Dr. Kendal Stewart)

Temple Grandin ... 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)

Directed by
Michel Orion Scott 
Produced by
Rupert Isaacson .... producer
Original Music by
Kim Carroll 
Lili Haydn 
Cinematography by
Michel Orion Scott 
Film Editing by
Rita K. Sanders 
Sound Department
Justin Hennard .... location sound
Matt Ludwick .... sound re-recording mixer
Gabe Sandoval .... recording engineer: studio narration
Charlie Uniform Tango .... sound mixer
Camera and Electrical Department
Jeremy Bailey .... second camera
Alex Daboub .... additional camera
Michelle Green .... additional camera
Editorial Department
Jennifer Bahr .... editing intern
Mike Curtis .... post-production consultant
Alex Daboub .... editing intern
Troy Gonzales .... editing intern
Michelle Green .... assistant editor
Kyle Henry .... post-production consultant
Jared Ravens .... color correctionist
Transportation Department
B. Dagvadorj .... driver: Mongolia
Gambat .... driver: Mongolia
N. Khadbaatar .... driver: Mongolia
Tsedee .... driver: Mongolia
Other crew
Ts. Amartuvshin .... horse guide: crew 2
Chimeddavaa .... horse guide: crew 1
Zolzaya Dashzeveg .... cook
A. Bold Erdene .... horse quide: crew 2
D. Gambold .... horse guide: crew 1
T. Ganzorig .... horse guide: crew 2
Undarmaa Gold .... additional translator
Ch. Odkhuu .... horse guide: crew 2
B. Oidov .... horse quide: crew 1
Batbayar Oidov .... horse guide: crew 1
Batjargal Oidov .... horse guide: crew 1
Tulga Otgonbaatar .... guide: Mongolian
Tulga Otgonbaatar .... translator: Monlogial
Naranbold Radnaabazar .... assistant: Mongolian guide and translator
Adam Rosenbloom .... location production assistant
G. Tsogtbayar .... horse guide: crew 2
Brandon Gonzalez .... special thanks
Rowan Isaacson .... special thanks
Rupert Isaacson .... special thanks
Judy Klain .... special thanks
Kristin Neff .... special thanks
Stafford O'Neal .... special thanks
PJ Raval .... special thanks

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Additional Details

Also Known As:
USA:93 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.85 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Australia:M | Canada:PG (British Columbia/Ontario) | Germany:o.Al. | USA:Unrated
Filming Locations:


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11 out of 12 people found the following review useful.
shows what it's really like, 18 December 2009
Author: chuck-526 from Ipswich MA

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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