A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Riding Tornado is a slow-paced tale focused on a depressed college student and his healing relationship with a horse. While too slow and serious for many tweens and teens, animal lovers might enjoy the meditation on the bond between human and animal. Parents main concerns might be a scene early in the movie where characters down shots of hard liquor, and another scene where the main character punches a mirror and smashes his head against his dorm room wall. Also early in the film, a horse is shown with bloody wounds.
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What's the story?
Pierre (Quentin Krog) is a college student who excels in track and field, but when his ankles begin to bleed, the doctors tell him he can never run again. Depressed and disillusioned with life, Pierre gives up on his theology studies and decides to go home. He meets an injured and temperamental horse named Tornado, whose troubles seem to mirror his own, and decides to help Tornado to become healthy and tame. Pierre takes Tornado to a stable in the Kalahari Desert, where a horse whisperer named Barrie Burger (Danny Keogh) helps Pierre to understand the nature of horses. Together, Pierre and Tornado form a symbiotic relationship, where Tornado seems to be helping Pierre through his difficult times as much as the other way around.
Is it any good?
The slowness of this journey will probably disengage younger viewers accustomed to more bells, whistles, and nonstop action. Compared to other films about the relationship between horses and the people who love them, RIDING TORNADO is as slow-paced as one might imagine life would be in a small desert town in the Kalahari Desert (where the movie is set). The theme of a troubled young man learning and growing as much as the troubled horse he's training is interesting enough, even if beyond-wise "horse whisperer" characters who only speak in stoic profundities has been overdone.
In spite of this, the shots of sunrises and sunsets in the Kalahari Desert are quite beautiful, and the film does offer a glimpse into the life and culture of South Africa. Riding Tornado goes to great lengths to drive its points home, but for horse-lovers everywhere, this film should prove enjoyable, as well as an affirmation of their own feelings about the care and training of horses.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the setting of South Africa. What cultural similarities and differences with other countries do you notice, and how are the customs and culture of a South African desert town conveyed in the film?
How is Riding Tornado similar and different from other films where horses are central to the story?
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