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Produced by Jonathan Goodwill; directed by Jim Purdy
Atlantis Films in association with the CBC, 1990. VHS cassette, 47:00 min., $129.00. Distributed by Magic Lantern Communications, Unit #38, 775 Pacific Rd., Oakville, Ont. L6L M64.

Grades 9 and up/Ages 14 and up

Reviewed by Howard Hurt

Volume 20 Number 5
1992 October

It's undoubtedly a positive thing for libraries to collect a few books or other materials that do not really have general interest but appeal very strongly to enthusiasts of one type or another. Of course, care must be taken to see that they are quality items with an authentic moral or intriguing story to tell.

This video is for the stereotypical pubescent girls who spend an inordinate amount of time riding horses and thinking about riding, grooming, and mucking out the stables. It depicts a life they see as romantic and exciting, one of powerful animals, luxurious country estates, well-groomed ladies and faithful trainers.

The owner of the dark horse is a soft and confused capitalist who wants to become the villain and sell his product, but he has a problem. Nobody will buy his Grand Prix stallion because the horse seems hyperactive, if not schizophrenic. However, the daughter and wise old trainer believe in Torka and just know that he can be a winner. Lesley, a promising young rider, is found, regional championships are entered, and the excitement builds. As Olympic trials are started, there are moments of doubt and the ability of the inexperienced rider is questioned. Elliot, the trainer, insists on the team's staying together and, together, they start to prevail, finally being selected to represent Canada at Munich. Once more disaster strikes as Elliot is hurt in a car accident, but he comes back just in time to inspire the horse and team to final victory. Canada takes the bronze medal from Russia and our flag waves over the victory dias.

Here is a predictable lesson about teamwork and never giving up presented by actors whose effort is uneven if not amateur. It is saved, really, by two things. First, it is a Canadian story that more or less tells how we came to have one international success. Secondly, the excellent camera work captures the excitement and grace of top level dressage competition. Students may not appreciate the snobby English accents of the announcers or the peculiar riding attire, but the power and grace of the horses would surely be a treat for anyone.

Howard Hurt is a librarian in the Education Library at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver, British Columbia

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