Running Free

Set largely in 1914 Africa, this family film follows the adventures of Lucky, a spindly foal who grows up to be a wise and powerful horse. Born aboard a ship bringing horses to work in South African copper mines, little Lucky gets a rough start in life. Forced to swim ashore with the other horse, he's separated from his mother and nearly dies during the...read more

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Reviewed by Maitland McDonagh
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Set largely in 1914 Africa, this family film follows the adventures of Lucky, a spindly foal who grows up to be a wise and powerful horse. Born aboard a ship bringing horses to work in South African copper mines, little Lucky gets a rough start in life. Forced

to swim ashore with the other horse, he's separated from his mother and nearly dies during the long train ride across the desert. When they reach their destination, an isolated town in the middle of a harsh, arid landscape, Lucky's mother is sent to the mines and Lucky is adopted by an orphaned

stable boy named Richard (Chase Moore). More misfortune follows: Lucky runs afoul of temperamental stallion Caesar, is bitten by a snake and, finally, abandoned: WWI spreads to Africa and the townspeople flee as bomber planes strafe their homes. Driven away from the deserted town by Caesar, Lucky

has further adventures before deciding to return and lead his fellow horses to a fabled lake in the mountains. Sober and handsomely photographed, this film is sadly undermined by its use of voice-over narration; Lukas Haas speaks Lucky's thoughts, which run to the clichéd likes of "This

world didn't make sense," and "Why couldn't they understand that I needed to be with my mother?" Ouch. Granted, horses are more handsome than expressive. But Bodrov's staging and cutting does a perfectly good job conveying their anthropomorphized feelings and motives; the spoken drivel is just a

distraction. The film's human characters are largely inconsequential, with the exception of 12-year-old Maria Geelbooi, a nonactress of Bushman heritage; although her part is small, she's so beautiful and effortlessly engaging that you keep hoping there will be some reason for her to come back

into the story.

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  • Released: 2000
  • Rating: G
  • Review: Set largely in 1914 Africa, this family film follows the adventures of Lucky, a spindly foal who grows up to be a wise and powerful horse. Born aboard a ship bringing horses to work in South African copper mines, little Lucky gets a rough start in life. Fo… (more)

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