‘Equus’ Brings a Majestic Breed to CBC

Nomad Kazakh boys in the Altai, Western Mongolia

By Pat Mullen

Niobe Thompson is back in the saddle at CBC’s The Nature of Things with the new three-part mini-series Equus: Story of the Horse. Thompson takes audiences on an epic journey that traverses 11 countries across three continents to explore the diverse relationships between humans and horses around the globe. Over the 18-month film shoot, Thompson and his crew visited a range of locations from Canada’s Rocky Mountains to the frozen lands of Yukatia, Russia probing questions of the evolution of humankind’s dependence on (and exploitation of) horsepower over time.

Equus looks back over 45 million years with the help of cutting-edge 3D animation to reflect upon the earliest horses that began the trail of beautiful creatures that humans saw as something to be tamed for their benefit. The second episode explores the earliest riders of the horses and gives audiences a major tidbit of scientific history by sharing the discovery that the first riders carried the first pandemic of plague to Europe. Throughout the series, Thompson spotlights the range of horses and the diverse breeds around the world while asking why these creatures are so willing to please the humans who have controlled them over time.

The doc series reunites Thompson with composer Darren Fung after their Canadian Screen Award winning live music collaboration on The Great Human Odyssey. Equus features another sweeping score as the doc traverses the globe, taking in nature and the course of human (and non-human) history in all its grandeur. The scope of the film outdoes even The Great Human Odyssey as Thompson and his crew whisk audiences to the Tien Shan Mountains of Kazakhstan where a newly built replica of a Stone Age Village uses a cast of over 70 actors (and far more horses) to represent the earliest interactions between humans and their equine friends. The series will stream online with episodes airing on CBC broadcast each Sunday.

Equus debuts tonight on CBC’s The Nature of Things at 8:00 pm. Watch the making of the film’s music below:

The Music of Equus from HANDFUL OF FILMS on Vimeo.