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The Rocking Horse Winner

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NR
1949

The Rocking Horse Winner is a 1949 British film that offers both a chilling and captivating viewing experience. The film is directed by Anthony Pelissier, and it's based on the short story of the same name by famous writer D.H. Lawrence. Although it was released over seven decades ago, the social issues presented in the film remain topical and relatable to contemporary audiences.

The film stars Valerie Hobson, John Howard Davies, and Ronald Squire, who all deliver stellar performances. The actors excel in their respective roles, with their performances leaving a deep impact on the viewer. Here we see ambition, desperation, love, and cruelty all tangled up in a complex weave of human emotions.

John Howard Davies portrays Paul Grahame, a young boy with a remarkable gift. Brought up in an upper-middle-class family hard pressed for funds, Paul develops an uncanny knack for predicting the winners of horse races while riding his rocking horse. This strange conditioning and the subconscious knowledge acquired by the boy create an eerie tone that adds to the film's overall charm and intrigue.

Valerie Hobson plays Hester Grahame, Paul's mother, whose financial habits drive the family towards doom. Hester is a charming woman who feigns to be in high spirits but is gradually sinking into the pit of her anxiety. She craves an opulent lifestyle, constantly comparing their standard of living to that of their wealthy neighbors, seemingly oblivious to the family's deteriorating financial state. Hobson brilliantly portrays the vanity and materialistic mindset of Hester, which ultimately seals the tragic fate of the characters.

Ronald Squire takes up the role of Oscar Creswell, Hester’s brother, who becomes an accomplice in Paul's mysterious quest. His love for his sister and the dawning realization of Paul's mysterious powers make him a complex character who stirs empathy in the audience. The dynamic between Oscar and Paul gives the film a unique flavor of suspense mixed with sad foreboding.

“The Rocking Horse Winner” does a splendid job of taking the compelling narrative of D.H. Lawrence’s titular story and crafting a film that is equal parts suspenseful and cautionary. The movie unfolds in a beautiful black-and-white era, which adds a realistic touch to the backdrop of the film, complementing the period it represents.

The film explores the theme of material desire and the dramatic extents people can go to satisfy their cravings. It presents a stark comparison between artificial love, driven by material possessions, and genuine love, which calls for sacrifice and selflessness. A simple approach towards portraying difficult issues of socio-economic class, thwarted ambitions, inter-family relations, and the ignorance of sheer innocence makes The Rocking Horse Winner a masterpiece in its own right.

Although the movie is centered around horse racing, it is replete with deeper meanings and metaphors. The rocking horse, for instance, is symbolic of the post-War economic instability that was prevalent in Britain during the story's time. The device also represents the relentless drive for wealth, which becomes a form of madness for the characters.

The performances are exceptional, with each actor bringing depth and charisma to their characters. The moody, dramatic lighting invokes a sense of other-worldliness, as does the eerie, recurring whisper that serves as a chilling soundtrack to the family's ambitions and anxieties.

The suspense builds progressively, keeping the audience on edge throughout the film. It manifests a poetic justice in its chilling climax, which leaves an impression on the viewer. The Rocking Horse Winner is indeed a significant piece of British cinema that has stood the test of time.

All in all, The Rocking Horse Winner is a beautifully made, moodily evocative movie that draws you into its unnerving yet captivating narrative. With its fine performances and striking social commentary, this film is a gem to be treasured by fans of classic cinema.

The Rocking Horse Winner is a Drama movie released in 1949. It has a runtime of 91 min.. Critics and viewers have rated it moderate reviews, with an IMDb score of 7.3..

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7.3/10
Director
Anthony Pelissier
Stars
Valerie Hobson, John Howard Davies, Ronald Squire
Genres
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