I agree with many of the other reviewers on Netflix, that the play is much more intense, and a much better experience.
Burton is amazing. He gives a terrific performance. But like any adaptation, the original will almost always be better. Peter Firth also gives a terrific performance.
The controversy around the play is entertaining in that any in-depth look at personal growth and the juxtaposition to puritan notions of right and wrong, throws people into a fit. To put the whole issue to bed, what difference does it make if the theme to you is about x or y? Like any art, it is meant to reach deep into an individual and tickle those deep emotional bits we keep hidden.
"any doubt and I'd be next over the stone...the mask slips, they tear the knife from my hand, and I wake up."
Evolution has given us a great complexity and variety. Yet when we try to attach artificial restrictions on ourselves, or nature in general, we're often surprised by the outcome.
Take, for example, the Colorado river diversion projects. Initially, it seems like a good idea to redirect the flow to increase agricultural opportunities, but the consequences could be terrific.
The binding and trapping of the energy creates tension and potential. The bit in the horses teeth in its own way holds or diverts the energy, harnessing it. The restrictions we artificially put on ourselves to be one way or another, are the bit and reins pulling us.
"They give us all their strength...they live for us.... I bet all cowboys are orphans."
Ultimately, we are in better shape when we accept the order of things. We learn to appreciate the reality of similarities and the reality of differences. When we don't try to force our nature down an arbitrary path... well, I think this is one of the humanistic challenges, that you either get, or you don't. And for those who don't it must be like being tone deaf and going to the opera.
"Moments snap together like magnets..."
Eileen Atkins is also brilliant as Martin Dysart's confidant. What a great supporting character. She provides the foundation for him, the splash of cold water he often needs to remember that life has a physical side and isn't totally intellectual.
"Your power to pull him out of the nightmare he has galloped himself into.... Do you see?"
I was wandering through Target this morning. Well, wandering isn't correct. I had a couple of specific items to pick up. I'm not really keen on wandering in Target. Back to the point, the notion of similarities and differences was wandering through my mind, and how much we in this culture strive to strip away or mask our differences so that we blend in completely with the crowd. We buy clothes that look like everyone else's. We buy lotions and creams and ointments to make us look and feel and smell just like everyone else.
Deodorant - substances applied to the body to affect the body odor.
We consciously deodorize ourselves. We strip away even our scent so that we can blend in and disappear in the crowd.
The unexamined life is not worth living for a human being. -- Socrates
Not everyone disappears into the crowd. There are those few chosen individuals who stand out in the crowd, often not because of their differences, but because they exemplify the ideal standard the crowd aspires toward. We've all seen them, the high school quarterback, the prom queen, the movie star, the annoying person at work who is just a little too perfect; you know the ones, as Olympia Dukakis coined, "cut from cream cheese".
I often wonder if they know where they are in the crowd. It doesn't matter much given the transient nature of things. An internet guru was recently commenting on the nature of impermanence. Look at the cup or glass in front of you. The time in the universe that the glass is whole and in one piece is so small. Through most of its existence the glass is broken. We're the same as the glass. For most of time, we are bits and pieces performing other functions; star dust if you like the romantic notion.
In the end, Equus shows us the darkness of our passions. Not that our passions are shameful, but that our passions are kept in the dark. We hide from our true selves, we cover up and conform, not to be happy, but to fit in and feel safe.