Thursday, November 5, 2009

The Horse Boy (Rhoades)

“The Horse Boy” Searches for Cure
By Shirrel Rhoades

What would you do if your child were diagnosed as autistic? Take him or her to John Hopkins? Hire a therapist? Fly off to a clinic in Europe? Explore alternative medicine? Pray? Attempt to learn more about the neurological anomaly?

This strange wiring in the brain affects about 2 out of every 1,000 children. Victims of autism spectrum disorder (ASD) exhibit impaired social interaction, among other symptoms. It usually manifests itself in children before they reach the age of three.

Journalist Rupert Isaacson and his wife Kristen have an autistic child, a five-year-old who is subject to uncontrollable fits of screaming and crying and acting out. Rowan is a child in need of a cure.

Giving up on traditional medicine, Isaacson and his wife choose to pursue an unusual course of action. Noting that Rowan seems calmer when around an old horse that belongs to a next-door neighbor, Isaacson gets the idea of taking his son to visit a shaman in Mongolia. After all, Mongolian tribesmen are good with horses.

Hiring a young cinematographer to document the trip, the family sets out on the long journey. “The Horse Boy” – as young Rowan has come to be known – is currently playing at the Tropic Cinema.

First-time director Michel O. Scott deserves credit for a good cinematic eye, his Hi-Def video camera capturing the beauty of the Mongolian Plains. You’ll marvel at the rugged, untamed countryside, almost making you wish this were a travelogue rather than a film about autism.

Trekking to a remote corner of the world, Rupert Isaacson is clearly in his element. In the past, he has written about the plight of Australian Bushmen and other unfamiliar cultures, so a trip to the far reaches of Mongolia seems almost normal to his journalistic view of life.

However, as we take this arduous journey with the Isaacson family, we come to understand the burden of having an autistic child. Young Rowan is difficult, given to fits and often incontinent. The film graphically shows it all.

You can’t help but wonder about Rupert Isaacson’s motivation. Is this truly a quest to help his child? A hare-brained adventure? A greedy ploy to produce a film (and book) about the experience?


But you will come away with no doubt of the Isaacsons’ love for their child and their saint-like devotion.

This inside look at the healing rituals of Mongolian shamans is interesting in itself – like a National Geographic expedition. The primitive life, the horsemanship, the holistic folk beliefs, you will find fascinating.

Undoubtedly, you will go to see the film asking did this mission help the child? I’ll let you share the Isaacson’s journey and determine that answer for yourself. But to be sure, there is something magical about this story.
[from Solares Hill]

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