Every so often,Netflix sends me a movie whose arrival is utterly inexplicable. Why the hell would I queue up Equus? A 30 year-old allegory about the dark perils of homosexuality? (I must have queued it up after seeing it mentioned in an episode of “American Dad.” These mystery arrivals usually turn out to have been something I saw referenced in a cartoon.)
Last night I intended to put the movie on and get some hard-core knitting done,since I didn’t actually want to watch it. But when I got home I discovered it was a mere 45 degrees (7 C) inside. Unfortunately,I can’t knit when it’s below 60 degrees (15 C). So I fired up the wood stove,put the movie on,then crawled under my black and yellow duckhunting sleeping bag to wait for the temperature to rise.
Here’s what you have to do to enjoy “Equus.”You have to interpret the movie as literal truth.
i.e. that it’s a story about the Horse God,a deity who is both commanding and subservient,who calls a young boy into his service. The boy’s avocation inspires him to enact peculiar rites to appease the Horse God. These rites get him into a bit of trouble,and at the end of the movie…well,I don’t want to spoil it for you. Let’s just say that the problem with deities is that they’re just so pushy. In trying to help the boy,a psychiatrist falls under the spell of the Horse God himself,and who knows what trouble he’ll get up to?
I’m telling you,if you watch this movie the right way,it’s positively Lovecraftian.
Now this trick is easiest if you’re half asleep,and you’ve recently spent a lot of time with the works of Neil Gaiman*. (In the last month I’ve watched Stardust and listened to the entire Fragile Things audiobook.)
Actually,I would very much like to see a version of “Equus”re-imagined by Neil Gaiman. Or maybe Stephen Fry. (I picture the Stephen Fry version as being something halfway between “Brokeback Mountain”and “Good Omens.”)
It’s been 50 years since the play was first written;surely we can do that,can’t we?
* I see that today,Neil Gaiman posted the awesome story behind his (equally awesome) dog. But no Cabal post could be considered complete without a mention of his handsome cape.