Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance

 

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The unusual tale of a racehorse owned by a village is told through the recollections of those involved.

 

Dark Horse: The Incredible True Story of Dream Alliance

  

Louise Osmond has justly received high acclaim for her feature film Versus: The Life and Films of Ken Loach but hardly less telling is this earlier work of hers. If its title seems rather a mouthful, that is because it was expanded in order to avoid confusion with the movie from New Zealand entitled The Dark Horse. However the rejigged title appropriately indicates Osmond's main focus here: the race horse Dream Alliance which was acquired by the villagers of Cefn Fforest in South Wales.

 

The owners of racehorses are usually rich individuals and for one to be owned by a community was most unorthodox. Osmond rightly saw this as a story worth telling on film and, no less important to the success of her film, is the fact that she eschewed a narrative voice preferring to let the villagers themselves appear on screen to tell their own story. From the inception of the idea by a local barmaid and cleaner named Jan Vokes, by way of finding the right trainer to the eventual participation of Dream Alliance in races, this is indeed their story - and it has a natural climax when ,after recovering from an injury, the horse was entered in the 2010 Grand National. Those who strongly disapprove of such races due to the risk to the animals may have reservations about this film. But with that caveat it can be said that Osmond's  film conveys so well the spirit and feelings of the villagers that we find ourselves sharing their hopes and fears. Nobody drawn to this subject matter will feel other than delighted by what is on the screen.                  

 

MANSEL STIMPSON

  

Featuring Jan Vokes, Brian Vokes. 

 

Dir Louise Osmond, Pro Judith Dawson, Ph Benjamin Kracun, Ed Job Gee, Music Anne Nikitin.

 

DSP/World's End Pictures/Film4/Channel 4/BFI/Film Cynru Wales-Picturehouse Entertainment.
86 mins. UK. 2014. Rel: 17 April 2015. Cert. PG.