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ALL THE PRETTY HORSES

About The Production

There comes a time in a young man's life when things must change. For John Grady Cole, the last of a long line of Texas ranchers and the hero at the heart of ALL THE PRETTY HORSES's lyrical tale, that time has arrived. It is just after World War II, and the land where he grew up, his beloved West Texas, has been altered forever by highways that bisect the plains and a new way of life that sneers at the traditions of acting with honor, communing with horses and simple, quiet living on the land.

Upon the divorce of his parents, his grandfather's death, and the loss of his inheritance and land, John Grady Cole must set out in search of a new life. Only just a young man, he understands that in order to live the life he wants, he'll have to head for a place where cowboy dreams still exist. And so, Cole rounds up his best pal Lacey Rawlins and sets off for the Rio Grande, for the true cowboy life, for a Mexico free of highways and fences, to a place where horses still run wild and love can still burn like a wild fire.

John Grady Cole's epic odyssey — in which he travels from innocence to experience, from childish games to jeopardizing his life for love, from haunting evil to acting with honor — first came to the attention of the world in Cormac McCarthy's acclaimed, National Book Award-winning novel, All The Pretty Horses. A classic hero's journey on the outside, McCarthy's tale was at its core a stunning examination of a young man's coming-of-age -- of friendship, loyalty, honor and most of all, staying true in a harsh and changing world.

These same themes are what attracted two Academy Award-winning filmmakers to the sweeping beauty of ALL THE PRETTY HORSES: screenwriter Ted Tally and director Billy Bob Thornton. Both were swept away by Cormac McCarthy's novel, by the Mexican badlands setting, and by the raw physicality of the landscape that rends and changes John Grady Cole. Both knew bringing this towering tale of a boy's odyssey into the world to the screen would be an exhilarating filmmaking challenge.

Says Ted Tally: "ALL THE PRETTY HORSES is a masterpiece, an authentically great book and I thought it would also make a fantastic movie. I was deeply moved by the character of John Grady Cole. It is a story of dispossession, about a boy who loses not only his home and his family but his dream of the future — and how he goes about trying to alter that in ways that change him profoundly. It is a love story, an adventure story and a story of coming-of-age on a grand scale."

Adds Billy Bob Thornton: "This is a story about a lot of things — about young people growing up, dealing with changing times, letting go of the past, figuring out who loves them and who doesn't, deciding who they can trust and who they can't, and ultimately discovering what their lives are about. It's very strong material. It's an adult film about what young people go through on their way to maturity told in intense and heart-wrenching terms. I think it has the ability to effect people of all ages.

Cormac McCarthy's novel was celebrated not only for its expansive, evocative story of a young man's transformation but for its visceral, original use of language. McCarthy's writing style — spare, poetic, maintained in a raw, unpunctuated state — was as much a part of the ride as John Grady Cole and the horses. So when Ted Tally first approached his screen adaptation, he made it a priority to capture the essence of the novel's language and love of landscape, which became part-and-parcel of the story's epic themes.

"I so deeply admired the passion of the book," notes Tally. "The challenge for me was to respect that without being in awe of it. I was able to meet Cormac McCarthy on the set." Cormac had read the screenplay and was pleased with it — which was thrilling for Ted.

Tally was particularly str

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