Jacob Mendez
Jacob Mendez

“Horizon. Chapter I”: Kevin Costner's failure. The caravan does not go any further

  • Kevin Costner is the director, co-writer, producer and actor of one of the main roles in the film “Horizon: Chapter I”. The production is a grand, epic story about the settlement of Western America.
  • To finance such an expensive venture, Costner had to mortgage his seaside estate in Santa Barbara.
  • The project took over 35 years to be implemented. Costner commissioned writing the script in 1988.
  • The film, whose Polish premiere will take place on June 28, is the first part of an epic saga. The next installment will hit cinemas in August. Two more are to be built.

One thing cannot be denied to Kevin Costner, who appears here as a director, co-writer, producer, and actor. He threw himself into the deep end, maybe even into the depths of the Mariana Trench. The vision he outlined with the project depicting the history of American settlement was intended to be so powerful and spectacular that he apparently had no choice but to produce it himself.

Especially since he didn't think it would be appropriate to fit it into three hours, and ultimately probably a dozen or so. As a result, the first chapter of this epic, at least visually, story is in fact a three-hour, unfortunately very boring prologue. Introducing subsequent characters, without any order or composition, without creating any sensible narrative axis. Everything follows a similar pattern. We see a caravan traveling through the American wilderness, preparing to establish a settlement, an attack by Indians, and finally reorganizing after the losses. And so on and on and on.

Everything fits in the picture, because it's hard to deny that the crew working on the film took care of every set and costume detail of this historical story, and unfortunately it's worse with the narrative itself. The Western “Horizon. Chapter I” can be perceived this way – it is a strictly codified and at the same time very American genre, using specific iconography, patterns and solutions.

And in fact, apart from spectacular scenes of duels between settlers and Indians, there is no sight or sound of anything after that. However, this is quite surprising to me, because Kevin Costner is no novice in this matter. And both as an actor and director. After all, he made one of the most beautiful films of the early 1990s, “Dances with Wolves” (1990), or even the series “Yellowstone”, depicting the contemporary American borderland. It seemed, therefore, that he was imbued with the Western spirit.

Perhaps this is just a not-so-successful beginning and “Horizon” will be a finished project. Because I have the impression that it is closer to a TV series narrative than an autonomous film. Even so, the first chapter definitely lacked a cliffhanger, something we would want to follow and make us look forward to the next part. For now, we got a history lesson, and not the most interesting one at that. It's a pity, because there was potential, especially since the cast included, among others: Siena Miller, Giovanni Ribisi, Luke Wilson and Will Patton. I don't know how much Kevin Costner has in his real estate fortune, but I sense a tense time for his advisor.


Kuba Armata, Cannes

“Horizon: Chapter I” (Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1), dir. Kevin Costner, USA 2024, distributor: Monolith Films, cinema premiere: June 28, 2024.