Thursday, January 8, 2009

Wild Hearts

Sonora Webster Carver, famous "diving horse girl"
At the recommendation of my friend Kristen, tonight I watched Wild Hearts Can't Be Broken. What a great culminating experience after reading Water for Elephants!

It's a true story about a young orphan who runs away to join the circus during the Great Depression. She learns to perform in an act I had never heard of before: diving horses.
A horse and rider take a running leap from a 60-foot steel pier and into a small pool of water. It was truly stunning to see the horse flying through the air like a Pegasus.
My heart was in my throat as I watched those dives. I wonder, did the horse hate it or love it? What in the world would make a horse participate in such a thing? The sheer unnaturalness is what makes it so arresting. It's still going on now; some say the horses enjoy it, animal rights activists call it cruelty. I read the following at Equine Ink,
"The act was created by Dr. W.F. Carver who was riding across a bridge in 1924 when it collapsed, sending him and his horse 40 feet into a river. The horse executed a dive and the two swam safely to shore. He created the act to replicate this feat."
Atlantic City must have been an amazing place back then, like a carnival that never ends, yet not impossibly seedy like Vegas. I imagine modern Atlantic City is a lot like Vegas now. Was Vegas ever like Atlantic City once was? A "place where all your dreams come true"?
Atlantic City in 1920

Atlantic City today.

Seeing this film also gave me a much-needed reminder to count my blessings. In the story, a person gets detached retinas from a forceful impact to the eye, and as a result is blinded for life. These days retinal surgeons can save a person's vision, at least to some extent.

Photos from Equine Ink, Atlantic City Online, Monopoly and


Kristen said...

WooHoo: I am joyed that you enjoyed it so much!

For me, I watched it in a time when I needed a reinforcement of compassionate courage ... and for me, that movie really delivered. . . . It is powerful, in a very clear and simple way. . . . Anyway, thanks for sharing it with me :)

In Joy,
Kristen :)

steviewren said...

My daughter and I went to see this movie when it first came out. I think she owns a copy herself. I enjoyed it.

Have you seen Moulin Rouge? Although it is not about the circus there is something very sideshowish about it. If you haven't seen it you need to. I think you'd like it.

Indie said...

Yep, Kristen, I think I'm going to let you pick out all my movies and music from now, because your taste is great! :) Thank you.

Steviewren, yes, I saw Moulin Rouge. I liked it. Thanks for the recommendations. :)

LizGoldsmith, EquineInk said...

I recently received an email from the great granddaughter of one of the diving girls of Atlantic City(she had read my blog posting). So check back for an update article soon. I have so many questions about how (and why!) someone became the rider of a diving horse. I hope I can provide a few more insights.