ThinkFilm honcho Mark Urman resented last night’s post about Zoo and wrote the following: “Zoo, if you really want to know, is extremely artsy, totally un-sensationalistic, and 100% ‘specialty.’ Alas — writers insist upon calling it ‘the horse-fucking movie‘ and talking about it in tabloid terms, and flinging it at a broad-based audience that is not equipped to meet it on its own terms.”
I wrote back straight away and said “the only touchstone I have in the naked male-stimulated-by-horse genre of drama is Equus. Does Zoo touch upon any of the themes and/or musings in Peter Shaffer’s play?
“When people spoke of Equus in shorthand in the ’70s, they said (a) it was about an unstable stable boy who blinds three or four horses, and (b) it has great performances and (c) it has a nude scene in the stable between the boy and a girl. People think and relate in shorthand. You’re far too savvy and perceptive not to have understood from the get-go that this movie would be processed as a thing about horse sex. A guy dying from anal intercourse with a horse is a tabloid subject — it’s a story that’s straight out of Weekly World News.”
To which Urman replied, “Zoo has larger themes, but not quite the same as Shaffer’s. Equus explores the passion of Alan Strang (who was in fact mad) and compares it , somewhat romantically, to the dry, rationalism of the shrink. Zoo is the sad, strange-but-true story of someone who explores his dark side and gets lost in the darkness. But the film does not romanticize the passion in question, nor does it imply that it’s comparable to, superior to, or even related to normal adult male urges.
“And while I fully expect people to refer to this — and any — film in somewhat reductive terms, I think that ‘the horse-fucking’ movie is a phrase that not even the Weekly World News would use!”