Horse Thief, The

A horse thief and his family are expelled from a nomadic tribe in Tibet. He seeks redemption through Buddhist ritual but has trouble escaping a harsh fate. The style of the film is very unusual. Instead of the horse thief’s story being in the foreground, the film focuses on the environment and the peopleothe characters are like tiny gleams of awareness in the immensity of nature. Director Tian Zhuangzhuang and his cinematographers (Hou Yong and Zhao Fei) have created a film of bold visual textureothere is a strong sense of landscape here, and the depiction of religious ritual is hypnotising. There is a great use of soundoespecially the unearthly chanting of the monksoto create a feeling of awe before the mysteries of existence. Emerging from this atmosphere is the struggle of the three outcasts (man, woman and child) against the elements, and in the case of the man, against himself.
China, 1986. English subtitles. Colour. Anamorphic. 88 mins.

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