The First Part Costner's Love Letter to Cinema Lands with "Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1"

Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1

Director: Kevin Costner
Starring: Kevin Costner, Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Giovanni Ribisi
Studio: New Line Cinema

Genre(s): Western
Rated: R (For mild thematic elements and some action)

Kevin Costner’s heart has always been in the Old West. Despite his varied career, he always seemed most at home holding a gun, riding a horse, and wearing a cowboy hat. That may be why some of his best work – “Dances with Wolves,” “Open Range,” and “Yellowstone” – are tale place in the old west. He claimed that the first adult movie he saw in theaters was “How the West Was Won” (a movie that happens to be rated G) and was so impressed with the directors’ control of the camera he decided that making movies is what he wanted to do.

After many years of ups and downs in his career, Costner is embarking on his most ambitious project to date: “Horizon: An American Saga.” Putting a reported $38 million of his own money into the project, Costner writes, produces, and directs this epic film in which the founding of America is well underway, and a land called Horizon has become the centerpiece in a conflict that will decide what the country is going to look like.  Costner started production of the film shortly after talks of his involvement with the final season of “Yellowstone” broke down.

Some may view the timing as Costner’s way of getting back at the creators of the show with his own western where he is in control. Costner did not appreciate the lack of control he had on the show and made it a point to use his renewed popularity to get his own western off the ground. Whether that makes “Horizon: An American Saga” is a dick-swinging project is not for me to say, but I will tell you that the final project is ambitious in scope and daring in execution. For despite being a hair over three hours long, “Horizon: An American Saga” is a massive setup for upcoming sequels.

This film is ‘Chapter 1’ in the project with ‘Chapter 2’ coming out in a little more than a month. Reports are that ‘Chapter 3’ is currently filming with Costner looking for financers to help with ‘Chapter 4’ (which presumably will end the saga). That makes “Horizon: An American Saga” more than a little unusual, as it is a film that sets up multiple storylines with a large ensemble cast, and then holds on to the major cards for a sequel you are expected to show up for. Well, give everyone this much credit: at least they are being upfront about it in the promotional material.

Because of the whole setup, it has been questioned why the movie isn’t a mini-series. Is Costner trying to make TV for the movies? If he is, I don’t see why not (Marvel has been doing that for years at this point). I personally disagree, because this movie is so confident in its direction and buildup, that I watched with a sense that Costner was in full control of his story, and the experience was so grand that it deserved to be seen on the big screen. I have no idea if this experiment will work. I have no idea if audiences are ready to stomach what Costner has in store for everyone.

Maybe the series will start as a movie and end on TV. Maybe it will be broken up into episodes when all is said and done. Costner doesn’t seem that concerned with the box office numbers, claiming that he is prouder of the fact that the movie will live on in physical media and streaming. Yet while we need to see the second movie to have a better idea for what the end goal for “Horizon: An American Saga” might look like, it is as beautiful and fine made a film as any classic western, and I am excited about the possibilities of where this all goes.