(out of 5)

A socially dysfunctional stable boy () blinds six horses in a fit of rage and is sent to a psychiatric institute after his arrest. There, an emotionally burdened doctor (, in his last great role) does his best to unlock the boy’s secrets and discover what experiences led up to this completely inexplicable act of cruelty. What he finds is a young man raised on a complicated mythology of masculinity, religious fervour and fascination with the equine world that has been mixed up by his own feelings of sexual insecurity and inability to express his most desperate desires. Both Burton and Firth do magnificent work, the latter recreating his role from the stage production, but Peter Shaffer dilutes his original material a bit too much in adapting it to the screen. The intelligent, thought-provoking dialogue is still intact and makes a great impression, but opening up the action for the visual medium saps a bit of the strength out of the experience. Still, the photography is beautiful, and the supporting cast, especially  as the boy’s well-meaning but totally messed up mother, and , is excellent.

Persky-Bright Productions, Winkast Film Productions

USA/United Kingdom, 1977

Directed by

Screenplay by , based on his play

Cinematography by

Produced by ,

Music by

Production Design by

Costume Design by Tony Walton

Film Editing by

Academy Awards 1977

Golden Globe Awards 1977

National Board of Review Awards 1977

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