Equus [1977]

A film adaptation of the famous play by Peter Shaffer, Equus stars Richard Burton (Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1984) as Martin Dysart, a psychiatrist who takes on an unusual case: a young stable boy (Peter Firth, The Hunt for Red October) who, in a frenzy, has blinded six horses. Their sessions reveal that the boy has a quasi-religious fetish for horses and he rides them in the dead of night, experiencing an ecstasy unlike anything Dysart has ever known. Dysart begins to question: Is the pursuit of normalcy worth the loss of individual passions? Equus features a lot of hokum--its therapy scenes are absurd crescendos of revelation and insights. But its central question has substance, the direction is energetic, and the performances are powerful; Burton, handsome and haggard, brings a complex self-loathing to his role. Also featuring Jenny Agutter (Logan's Run) and Joan Plowright (Enchanted April). --Bret Fetzer

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