Kraftur - The Last Ride| 45mins
Director: Ãrni Gunnarsson, Denni Karlsson | Producer: Ãrni Gunnarsson
Focus Years: 2009 | Country: Iceland
Due to Icelandic veterinary health regulations aimed at protecting the Icelandic horse stock which has been isolated on the island since the settlement in the 9th century AD, horses that leave Iceland will never set hoof on their home soil again.
This is the topic of the 2009 documentary Kraftur â€“ The Last Ride, directed by Ãrni Gunnarsson, SteingrÃmur Karlsson and Thorvardur BjÃ¶rgÃºlfsson.
The crew follows the rider ThÃ³rarinn Eymundsson and his fiery red, smooth and energetic stallion Kraftur frÃ¡ Bringu from training sessions and riding trips at their home in SkagafjÃ¶rdur, north Iceland, to the 2007 World Championship for the Icelandic Horse in the Netherlands.
There is a very special bond between man, horse and nature.
It is as if rider and horse merge into one and nature is perceived in a new and amazing way. It is as if â€œthe ground singsâ€ as one of the interviewees in the film aptly describes it, adding â€œanyone who doesnâ€™t notice it must be dead.â€
It was pointed out that the Icelandic horse, a creature of nature, is developing into a new horse breed, a competition and show horse. But if it loses its touch with nature, the magic is gone and therefore it is important for trainers to nurture the horsesâ€™ natural character.
Eymundsson is clearly aware of that as the camera follows him training Kraftur in different terrain including the beach, the highlands and the ocean.
They also compete on ice where Kraftur was unfortunate enough to lose a horseshoe and had to be supported off the track so he wouldnâ€™t slip and fall. Eymundssonâ€™s concern for his horse is obvious and touching.
The film includes beautiful shots of SkagafjÃ¶rdur in summer and winter, snow-capped mountains, green fields, the bright summer night and the sunset over Drangey island.
There are also clips showing the life of the Icelandic horse in general, the proud stallion fathering a foal and a mare giving birth. Such a wondrous creature a newborn foal is, scrambling to its feet, looking for its motherâ€™s teat.
The interviews are enlightening and sincere; the whole film has an authentic atmosphere.
The film is shot before the banking collapse in 2008, during a time when all the business big shots were flying high and the Icelandic public was under a spell of materialism.
Yet this documentary shows the real Iceland which still existed during that mad time of consumption mania, that there were also people who appreciated simple things and valued nothing above being outside in nature with their horse.
Overall, this is a beautiful and touching story of a man and his horse and the conflict between his longing to keep his steed in Iceland and sharing its talent with the world. It also provides insight into horsemanship in Iceland.