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Equus

3.9 out of 5 stars 73 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

This Oscar®-nominated* adaptation of Peter Shaffer's Tony Award-winning play erupts on the screen with the same power and passion as the stage original. Richard Burton gives "one of his best performances ever" (Boxoffice) in this "elegant and provocative" (Newsweek) tale ofmyth and madness. What would drive Alan Strang (Peter Firth), a troubled adolescent stable boy, to blind six horses with a metal spike? Psychiatrist Martin Dysart (Burton) investigates these unspeakable acts and delves deep into Alan's psyche, confronting the mysteries of sexual passion and madnessas well as the dark demons buried within his own soul. *1977: Actor (Burton),Supporting Actor (Firth), Adapted Screenplay

Special Features

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Product Details

  • Actors: Richard Burton, Peter Firth, Colin Blakely, Joan Plowright, Harry Andrews
  • Directors: Sidney Lumet
  • Writers: Peter Shaffer
  • Producers: Denis Holt, Elliott Kastner, Lester Persky
  • Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dubbed, Letterboxed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono), Spanish (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: Spanish
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    R
    Restricted
  • Studio: MGM (Video & DVD)
  • DVD Release Date: March 4, 2003
  • Run Time: 137 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00007KQA2
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #45,149 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Equus" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Mark Norvell on March 6, 2003
Format: DVD
Absolutely stunning film version of the Tony-winning play. Richard Burton is fine as psychiatrist Dr.Dysart who tackles a disturbing case involving a young stablehand, Alan(Peter Firth) who has inexplicably blinded six horses. Alan has become obsessed with the mythological horse god Equus and secretly worships horses in religious/sexual frenzy. Dysart (who has problems of his own) tries to uncover what led up to the mutilations and discovers the boy's parents were aware of some of his strange rituals but coldly did nothing. Joan Plowright is excellent as the mother who reveals too late her own shortcomings. Beautiful Jenny Agutter is also fine as the girl whose seduction of Alan in the stables leads to the tragic occurrance... but Peter Firth is simply fantastic as the mentally fragile Alan. His performance carries the film and his role requires him to be nude through much of it. But titillating this is not. It is a wrenching film and the blinding of the horses is almost unbearable to watch. This is the kind of film that challenges the viewer and leaves much open for discussion. On that level alone, it is recommended highly. Others beware that the bizarre subject matter may put some viewers off. Nonetheless, it's an excellent film and an unusual journey into the psyche of a most unusual (and sad) young man. Excellent direction by Sidney Lumet. Rather "bare bones" DVD but it looks and sounds great. A collector's item.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Hollywood gets mixed reviews on its ability to present plausible psychiatrist-patient relationships on film. On the tacky end of the scale are DAVID AND LISA and FINAL ANALYSIS; on the "deeply moving" end of the scale are ORDINARY PEOPLE and GOOD WILL HUNTING. Most, like THE THREE FACES OF EVE fall somewhere in the middle--interesting though unsubtle stories that reduce the patient's neurosis to a single mystery that needs to be unlocked by an indefatiguable professional who is egoless and has the blank personality to prove it.
Sidney Lumet's adaptation of the Peter Shaffer's stage play EQUUS is exceptional for its ability to transport to film the full emotional complexity and intensity of a psychiatrist's relationship with one of his patients. And this is done almost entirely through the skill of the actors: Richard Burton as the psychiatrist Dr. Martin Dysart, Peter Firth as the disturbed stable boy who inexplicably blinded several of the horses in his care, Colin Blakely and Joan Plowright as the boy's religiously incompatible parents, and Eileen Atkins as a judge who has asked Dr. Dysart to take on this challenging case. This is not to minimize other contributions--the cinematography is exceedingly intelligent and unobtrusive. It's simply to say that Lumet seems to have realized that he had assembled a dream cast and made every effort to stay out of their way and to let each actor shine. Burton's performance is perhaps the best of his film career. Though intense at times, he is completely devoid of the stagey "haminess" that has marred some of his other film performances. Firth, as the patient, moves easily from jingle-singing dissociated boy, to surly rebellious youth, to a sort of highly eroticized mythic being. It is truly fascinating to watch.
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Format: VHS Tape
This film has often been derided as lacking the emotional impact that the stage production contained (much of it deriving from the unconventional staging of the piece), but I think these criticisms are often misguided and, frankly, wrong.
The story is as strong as in the stage play: a burned-out psychiatrist (Richard Burton) takes on the case of a stable-boy (Peter Firth) who has blinded six of the horses in his care, and through his treatment of the boy, further exacerbating the psychiatrist's sense of detachment from the primitive side of his personality --a side he longs to be reunited with. In the process, we see how the twisted interrelation between sex, religion, guilt, parental love (or the absence thereof) and idolization (in most of its forms) combine to motivate an otherwise good teenager to commit such an act of cruelty.
The acting is absolutely flawless. Burton gives what may be the best performance of his career (and one which was inexplicably denied the Oscar) as the psychiatrist; Firth is his match as the inscrutable stable boy; and Jenny Agutter is superb as the young woman who unwittingly sets the final steps of the story in motion.
As for the complaints about the "staginess" of the film, Sidney Lumet's direction does a marvelous job at highlighting the contrasting personalities of Burton's and Firth's characters -- Burton's monologues shot in extreme close-up, highlighting the claustrophobic isolation into which his character has retreated; Firth, by contrast, given more leeway with the camera, only mirroring Burton's claustrophobia in those scenes in which his Freudian/religious guilt imposes itself upon him.
In short, Peter Shaffer's play is astounding material and it clearly survives its transition to film. Not a happy film, by any means, but certainly a brilliant one.
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Format: DVD
Esteemed psychiatrist Martin Dysart (Ricard Burton) takes on a case nobody else wants to deal with. Alan Strang (Peter Firth), an eighteen year old working at the local stables blinds four horses with a metal spike in an unpresidented night of unspeakable madness. As Dr. Dysart delves into the causes leading up to the event he soon realizes he is dealing with more than just a confused, emotionally unstable teenager. He has stumbled upon a shocking tale of intense spiritual devotion gone horribly wrong.

As the ongoing therapy with Alan reaches its climax Dr. Dysart finally comes face to face with the young mans' inner passion and divine obsession. An encounter which challenges Dysart to finally look into his own soul and confront his personal demons and loss of passion. As though peering into a mirror darkly it eventually becomes a case of "Physican Heal Thyself."

Truly one of the darkest, most penetrating journeys into a troubled mind you will ever view. Peter Shaffer's masterful screenplay along with director Sidney Lumet performing at the top of his craft have brought to life a harrowing vision not soon to be forgotten.
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