Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 1 Review


  • Kevin Costner’s visual storytelling in Horizon: An American Saga is breathtaking and creates a grand Western spectacle.
  • The film strikes a good balance between action sequences and intimate character moments, keeping viewers engaged.
  • Although some characters remain underdeveloped and the dialogue is limited, the score and landscapes enhance the emotional experience.

There’s something about a filmmaker whose passion for grand yet genuine storytelling surpasses their need to entertain the masses. For me, one of those storytellers is Kevin Coster, who recently premiered his western epic, Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 1, at the 77th Cannes Film Festival. It’s been 34 years since his first directorial effort in this genre (Dances with Wolves), and now he’s back with screenwriting partner Jon Baird to share his love for westerns with sincerity and a methodical approach. In Horizon: Chapter 1, Costner demonstrates his ability to handle intertwining stories that are equally intimate and grandiose.

Costner Uses Visual Storytelling To Invite Us Into The Epic Journey To Come

Horizon: An American Saga has a Chapter 2

In his genre epic, there are several character journeys occurring simultaneously that initially might make it difficult to follow. But with a story like this one, Costner takes his time introducing their backstories when necessary to guide the plot along. One of these stories is that of Frances Kittredge (Sienna Miller). After her family settles into a new territory during the pre-Civil War era, the local Apache tribe attacks their newly built neighborhood, seeking to take back their land. Right away, Costner invites us to delve into the magic of Western fight sequences, directing them with style and an attentive eye.

Frances and her young daughter barely escape thanks to the rescue efforts of Sergeant Major Riordan (Michael Rooker) and First Lieutenant Trent Gephardt (Sam Worthington). Their introductions and interactions with the lone survivors spark up the emotional elements of Baird and Costner’s script, leaving plenty of room for us to become equally invested in what’s to come. Furthermore, Costner smartly captures the beautiful landscapes to accompany these types of scenes in a way that stimulates our desire for any hopeful outcome in a story that initially starts off bleak and uncompromising with its violence and bloodbaths.

Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 Leaves A Lot To Be Desired Due To Having Too Many Characters

But Costner does just enough to keep the intrigue

Costner turns his storytelling to another central character named Marigold (Abby Lee). She is a local courtesan seeking out her next cowboy in between looking after the son of Ellen/Lucy (Jena Malone). Lucy has recently fled her tumultuous relationship filled with domestic violence. While her former partner and his thugs track her down, that leaves Marigold to look after the young boy. Among these events, Marigold finds the charming and mysterious Hayes Ellison (Coster), whom she leans on for support and protection. As they journey ahead and come across various colonies, Marigold must decide what kind of life she desires.

Costner invites us to delve into the magic of Western fight sequences, directing them with style and an attentive eye.

With all the individual and intertwining stories ongoing throughout Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1, it would be all too easy to limit this film to a genre exercise that sets itself up for future sequels. Of course, there are many characters to become familiar with while trying to understand the complex story at hand. It’s only natural to want to understand these characters on deeper levels to build a sense of connection to them. However, Costner’s Western epic does just enough to set up the intrigue while also leaving us with a feeling of wanting more.

Costner’s latest is worth seeing in theaters for his visual storytelling alone.

Costner also appropriately relies on his characters to carry the momentum in the quieter moments of the film. At nearly three hours long, the pacing is quite spectacular even though it still requires an insurmountable amount of patience from viewers. But that’s what makes it all the more impressive. After long, violent sequences of pain and killing, unexpected heartfelt moments are right around the corner. And the director’s use of the world around him to guide his characters on their long journeys is a sight to behold. Costner’s latest is worth seeing in theaters for his visual storytelling alone.


Kevin Costner Confirms How Much Of His Own Money He Spent On New Western Movie Horizon

Kevin Costner corrects previous reports about how much of his own money he spent on Horizon: An American Saga, revealing an even higher number.

In reality, Chapter 1 isn’t enough to fully flesh out these characters, and it’s more than obvious when analyzing their actions and interactions with others. Still, with little dialogue and mostly isolated storytelling, Costner crafts a visually delightful journey full of hope and wonder. By capturing stunning landscapes that center on the natural beauties of the Old West, it invites an appreciation for visual storytelling and relies less on over-explanations. The set pieces and even John Debney’s score sell the emotional tone of the story where the dialogue does not.

Horizon: An American Saga Chapter 1 premiered at the 77th Cannes Film Festival.

An epic introduction to a grand Western spectacle, Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 is a long ensemble-driven journey destined to garner mixed reviews. With various stories ongoing simultaneously, it may be difficult for audiences to find interest in characters with little backstory. However, Costner and company know the importance of visual and sonic storytelling. In this film, the score, landscapes, and set pieces guide the stories along when the dialogue is limited, helping us to connect to the overall experience emotionally. And thanks to a special, sneak-peek montage at the end, fans of the genre have plenty to get excited about in Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 2.

Horizon- An American Saga Poster

Horizon: An American Saga is a Western film directed by Kevin Costner, and sees him in the starring role. The film explores multiple generations surrounding the expansion of the American West before and after the Civil War. Horizon is the first in a series of four films, all of which were greenlit by Warner Bros. Pictures.


  • Costner delivers beautiful visuals to help guide his storytelling.
  • The pacing between action sequences and intimate character moments is just right.
  • The score is hopeful and uplifting, adding the emotional tone to the story.

  • At nearly 3 hours, we never truly know every character fully.
  • The dialogue is very limiting and leaves a lot to be desired.

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