The Horse (Burnett, 1973)

Burnett’s second short film beautifully and ambiguously builds to a sharp freeze frame of sudden loss, possibly the moment when childhood shockingly ends and adulthood looms. The director stays wide in establishing the rural countryside (which I swear looks like somewhere east of the Bay Area) and a gathering outside a small farmhouse. The four white men gaze at a black horse and a small, African American boy grooming him. They’re all waiting, for something we can only guess. The Horse reflects a deceptive simplicity which resonates throughout Burnett’s feature work, a feeling of both progress and regression, action and stasis. A fine short film. Screened off Milestone’s brilliant new release of Killer of Sheep, a godsend for any film lover.


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