THE HORSE WHISPERER
About The Production
Principal photography began on location in Saratoga Springs, New York, with the filming of the accident sequence which opens the story
Principal photography began on location in Saratoga Springs, New
York, with the filming of the accident sequence which opens the
story. The Upstate New York location was one of the few places
in the region where snow still clung to the ground, yet truckloads
of ice still needed to be brought in to make more snow for the
tricky scenes where a truck skids around a corner, careening into
two young girls on horseback.
The production also filmed in Washington County for scenes set
in the MacLean country house, and at a horse farm near Ballston
Spa. Since the Roosevelt Baths in Saratoga Spa State Pork were
undergoing restoration, the location's temporary vacancy provided
an opportunity for the production to capture scenes in the hospital
where Grace is taken after the accident.
From there, the company moved to the Gramercy Park area of Manhattan
for scenes in the MacLean family apartment. The Museum of the
City of New York on Fifth Avenue was used as the exterior of Grace's
school. Annie MacLean's office was actually the office of Graydon
Carter, editor of Vanity Fair magazine.
The majority of the story takes place in the West, and the selection
of the location for the fictitious Double Divide Ranch was one
of the most crucial decisions for the filmmakers to make. Producers
Robert Redford and Patrick Markey knew the Montana area well from
their production of "A River Runs Through It." The nature
of the area supports both some of the finest trout fishing in
the country, and at the same time, acres of horse and cattle ranches.
"Montana serendipitously ended up being the location that
we chose after a very extensive search," says Patrick Markey.
"We looked at three hundred ranches around the West, continuing
to narrow it down until we chose the ranch owned by Keith and
Marie Engle. Obviously, the spectacular landscapes of Montana
offer visual elements that can't be denied, or compared."
Markey, who has had a home in the Livingston area for several
years, has taken time to learn just such an appreciation. There
are places in the Rockies that are more post card beautiful,"
Markey says. "When you see them, it's very apparent why
people would go there. Montana presents itself in a different
way. Its beauty is actually deeper than that. There is such a
ruggedness to it and a humbling power to its beauty. You just
have to be in it for a bit to understand."
The principal location chosen was the working cattle ranch of
the Engle family which is located about an hour from Livingston,
Montana, where the cast and crew were based. While the daily life
of the ranch continued throughout production, each day it seemed
as though a small occupying army moved in with trucks, lights,
trailers, a large catering tent, and a lot of city folk unfamiliar
yet fascinated by the way of life they saw unfolding around them.
'With today's filmmaking technology, there are all kinds of ways
you can make anything look good with filters and optical treatments
and so forth," says Robert Redford, discussing his approach
to the cinematography with director of photography Robert Richardson,
A.S.C. "The truth is that the real West is pretty powerful
and quite beautiful just the way it is. I was more interested
in trying to show it in a way that would make you feel it changing,
to let the clouds come and go and color a scene accordingly."
"The visual style of the film played a huge role in the making
of 'The Horse Whisperer,
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