What is it about Westerns? Find out why Kevin Costner loves the genre so much and why he never gave up on “Horizon: An American Saga,” in cinemas June 28

It’s been 36 years since Kevin Costner started working on “Horizon: An American Saga,” a project that he’s been trying to make for decades. But instead of being discouraged because he couldn’t get funding, Costner decided to spend about $38 million of his own money to finance his passion project, an epic saga that spans four movies. 

“I don’t fall out of love with what I think is something good,” Costner, speaking at the film’s press conference at Cannes, answered when a reporter asked him about the financial challenges he’s so far had to face while making “Horizon.” “I believe that when these lights go out and we’re in a movie theater, something magical can happen. Part of why I wanted to make one, two, three and four was to make it for myself because I know what it’s like to sit out there in the audience and the curtain opens and something magical is going to happen, and a story is going to transport us. The movies have always been a place for us to go have a chance at magic. Something that we’ll never ever forget.” The audience at Cannes must have felt that magic. The film reportedly earned a seven-minute standing ovation after its debut at the renowned film festival. 

In an interview with Today.com, the Academy Award-winning director again highlighted the importance of never giving up. “I’m satisfied that I’m just doing what I feel like is important in the work that I’ve chosen to be a part of,” he said. “I’m satisfied that I have given it everything.” 

“Horizon: An American Saga” explores the lure of the Old West and how it was won – and lost – through the blood, sweat and tears of many. Spanning the four years of the American Civil War, from 1861 to 1865, Costner’s ambitious cinematic adventure will take audiences on an emotional journey across a country at war with itself. The film boasts an all-star cast that includes Costner, Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Jena Malone, Jamie Campbell Bower, Isabelle Fuhrmann, Giovanni Ribisi and Luke Wilson

What is it about Westerns? 

It’s no secret that Costner loves the Western genre. His directorial debut was the 1990 film “Dances With Wolves,” a choice that made him give up would-be box office and critical hit “The Hunt for Red October,” according to an interview he did with GQ magazine. But his gamble paid off, as “Dances With Wolves” would go on to gross more than $400 million at the global box office, and win for the first-time director the Best Picture and Best Director Academy Awards. 

Early in their work on “Horizon,” Costner’s writing partner Jon Baird asked Costner what drew him to the genre. “I had my own reasons for seeking these stories out, but as usual his reasons were clearer and better than mine,” said Baird. “He described how the Western set the cleanest possible stage for orchestrating and studying human dilemma, and for gauging a character’s worth. And he illustrated with this setup: You stand with your back to your home, as a second figure appears on the skyline and makes its way toward you. Whether this person comes with good intent or evil, whether he or she needs help or is here to inflict harm, is honest or deceitful, you’ll have to ascertain all of this yourself. The only certainty here is that your window for decision and action is closing. You are about to test your wits and readiness against this stranger’s. And we, the audience, are going to take your measure. 

“In a good Western story, we’ll see men and women tried continually – against their environment, against one another – in circumstances that are seldom less than life-and-death. We can watch all of this at a comfortable remove, or consider how we’d act in a similar spot. But the Western setting is too stark – literally, figuratively – to hide a character’s qualities for very long. We will see who’s who in the strictest possible sense. And we will hear with unusual clarity the author’s comment on the worthy and the shameful, the good and the bad of human behavior. I still don’t know if this is some guiding principle of Kevin’s life and work, or just one of those oddly profound things he offhands when you ask him the right question.”

“Horizon: An American Saga” opens in Philippine cinemas June 28. Can’t get enough of Costner? We’ve rounded up some of the most popular movies (and a fan-favorite TV show!) that starred Costner (non-Westerns included). Yee haw! 

*Titles are listed in descending order according to release. 

Yellowstone (2018 – )

In this neo-Western TV series, Costner plays John Dutton, patriarch of the family who owns the largest ranch in Montana, the Yellowstone Dutton Ranch. The drama follows the Duttons’ “ruthless mix of business, politics and violence” to keep the land within their family. 

Open Range (2003)

This film, the last one Costner directed before “Horizon,” tells the story of open range cattlemen who cross paths with a ruthless and tyrannical rancher who forces them into vengeful violence after one of their own is brutally tortured and killed. Costner starred with Robert Duvall and Diego Luna as the open range cattlemen, with Michael Gambon as the villainous rancher, and Annette Benning as the physician’s assistant Costner’s character falls in love with. 

A Perfect World (1993)

Escaped convict Butch Haynes (Costner) takes a fatherless young boy hostage while running from the authorities. The film also stars Clint Eastwood as the sheriff in hot pursuit. 

The Bodyguard (1992) 

When beautiful superstar singer Rachel Marron (Whitney Houston) receives death threats, she hires Frank Farmer (Costner), the best bodyguard in the business, who will let nothing and no one stop him from protecting his charge – until he breaks the cardinal rule of his profession by falling in love with his client.

Robin Hood Prince of Thieves (1991)

This star-studded action-adventure tells the story of the legendary swashbuckling hero who defends the poor and battles the evil Sheriff of Nottingham in England’s Sherwood Forest. Stars Costner as Robin Hood, Alan Rickman as the villainous sheriff, Morgan Freeman and Christian Slater. 

Dances With Wolves (1990)

In his award-winning directorial debut, Costner plays a Union soldier who leaves the life he’s always known when he forms an emotional bond with Lakota Indians. 

Field of Dreams (1989)

This tearjerker of a sports fantasy drama tells the story of Ray Kinsella (Costner), a farmer who hears a voice that inspires him to turn his corn farm into a baseball field of dreams that attracts the ghosts of baseball legends. 

Bull Durham (1988)

In this sports comedy, Costner plays veteran minor-league catcher Crash Davis, who is hired by the Durham Bulls to help improve the team’s star rookie pitcher LaLoosh (Tim Robbins). Susan Sarandon plays a baseball groupie who romances both players. 

The Untouchables (1987)

Directed by Brian de Palma, this widely considered crime classic stars Costner and Robert De Niro as opposing forces in an all-out war between law enforcers and gangsters in 1920s Chicago, during the reign of Al Capone (played by De Niro). Also stars Sean Connery and Andy Garcia. 

No Way Out (1987) 

In this box office hit, Costner plays Navy Lt. Tom Farrell, who has an affair with a woman who turns out to be romantically involved with his superior as well. When the woman mysteriously ends up dead, Farrell is put in charge of the investigation and becomes a suspect himself. Also stars Gene Hackman as his superior, and Sean Young as the woman with whom they’re both romantically involved.

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