Falling Horses


Sadly the UK DVD release of this Robert Aldrich Classic Western has been clumsily edited to remove all shots of horses shot from beneath their riders. A reviewer on the Amazon website suggested this was due to the BBFC and prevention of cruely to animals, but it is a well practised stunt routine and has in any case been shown on the BBC un-edited.

Having seen the film thus edited once, I found it too irritating to want to see again. Does anyone know where I can obtain a DVD copy without those scenes removed?

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I agree with you - the region 2 version is unwatchable. I took a chance and ordered the Australian version and thankfully it includes these scenes.

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According to MelonFarmers.co.uk, the German Region 2 DVD version is identical in content to the UK version, only it does have all the horse falls that were cut from the official UK print.

While trip-wiring horses may be a practiced stunt routine, the problem is that the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937 sets out rules on animal cruelty that forbid psychological as well as physical mistreatment (including goading an animal into fear or fury), and if you've ever been tripped against your will it's quite distressing, even if it was only momentarily. Also, if the trip causes the horse to somersault, there is a risk of the horse breaking its neck.

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-But why remove the scenes after the fact? Makes no sense to me.

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The cuts were compulsory in the UK. It is illegal to distribute or exhibit a film in the UK if it contains footage of animal cruelty that was deliberately orchestrated by the film-makers. As long as the Cinematograph Films (Animals) Act 1937 remains a part of UK, these particular scenes will always have to be cut and there's nothing the BBFC can do about it as it's not their decision to overturn.

From what I read on the sBBFC website, the Act was introduced following concern over the mistreatment of animals during the film-making process (probably spurned by the then-recent Charge Of The Light Brigade, which contained numerous dangerous horse falls), and introduced the law to encourage film-makers the world over to stop inflicting cruelty on animals just for a film and to use more humane techniques instead.

In the States they have the American Humane Association to monitor the treatment of animals for film, particularly after the unacceptable animal cruelty in Heaven's Gate (1980), which contained a horse blown up with explosives, a cockfight, horse-trips, chickens having their heads cut off and steer being bled. It's kind of refreshing to know that the UK isn't the only country concerned with animal welfare during film-making, and you can find out their thinking on a number of films involving animals via the website www.ahafilm.info/movies -- you can see what they thought of some films and what films they have seen contained footage they deemed unacceptable due to cruelty to animals).

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Yeah, ok. And I'll ask the same question again:

Why remove the scenes after the fact? It makes no sense.

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Because unfortunately those scenes are absolutely not allowed in UK releases. Whether or not it makes sense, unfortunately there is no alternative -- the Animals Act forbids it and there's nothing anyone can do about it while the UK has this Act.

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Why would anyone care what the UK thinks??

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Judging by what those of other countries have said, the people in the UK who insisted on the passing of the Act in 1937 were not the only ones around the world who disapproved of the way animals were deliberately mistreated for the purposes of film-making. The American Humane Association's website has also deemed films 'unacceptable' if there was any unsimulated animal cruelty that was deliberately orchestrated by the film-makers.

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Nonsense.What cruelty?

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It's considered by animal rights activists and vets to be cruel to cause horses to fall by tripping them, as (a) tripping a horse can cause it great distress, and (b) if the trip causes the horse to somersault, this kind of fall can lead to the horse breaking its neck.

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Have you ever been tripped? You are obviously a jackass which is somewhat similar to a horse so maybe you could tell us how it feels.

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I have been tripped over before and the whole experience mentally scarred me so much i was forced into prostitution to pay for a sex change so that it might never happen again - OH COME ON !

That which does not Kill me makes me Stranger . . .

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It was on IT4 and ruined by the editing

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I totaly agree cruelty to animals for the sake of a film stunt is unnacceptable in this day and age, HOWEVER. We are talking about a film made 40years ago. The cruelty act was in existance then as it had been since 1937. I have seen hundreds of westerns on terrestial TV over the years and remember "horse falls" in most of them (you could even see the wire in some). So why weren`t they censored then? We cannot allow some anonomous commitee to censor and efectively ruin classic films because they suddenly have a modern day fit of guilt. Such scenes are integral in the plot in most cases and however unpalatable they appear now, no one stood up for them then. It has been suggested that smoking scenes may be cut from releases of older films. Imagine James Bond Dr No without scenes that contained cigarettes ("Bond, James Bond" would not exist). Imagine Cool Hand Luke, Maltese Falcon or The Godfather films, there would be nothing left to show if retro censorship became the norm. I have seen some extremely violent films on terrestrial TV (Saw, Hostel etc) and they are untouched. Yes I agree there is no place (or need) to hurt animals in modern films but please leave our classics alone.

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There's a nasty horse fall in Firepower, which was made in 1978. This was shown on terrestrial TV. The many horse falls in John Ford's original Stagecoach, one of the greatest of all westerns, are always shown on TV. I agree with zak-831 that since these scenes were filmed they should be included in all available prints. Why Ulzana's Raid has been singled out for cuts defeats me. I didn't know there was a "Lancaster cut" of this brilliant film.

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