Phar Lap

Watch Phar Lap

"Hero to a Nation"
  • PG
  • 1983
  • 1 hr 47 min
  • 7.2  (1,925)
  • 55

Phar Lap is a 1983 biographical drama film directed by Simon Wincer and written by David Williamson. The film revolves around the life of Phar Lap, a famous Australian racehorse, and his meteoric rise to dominance in the racing world. The film stars Tom Burlinson as Harry Telford, the horse's owner, and Judy Morris as Vi Telford, Harry's wife.

The movie opens with Harry Telford, a struggling horse trainer, purchasing a young colt from New Zealand. Harry believes the colt has the potential to be a great racehorse, but his colleagues and fellow trainers scoff at his claims. As he begins to train the young horse, he discovers that it has an unusual speed and endurance, reaching full speed at an early age.

Harry trains the horse aggressively, putting him through a rigorous training schedule that includes grueling cross-country runs. The horse slowly but surely begins to win races, and soon becomes a star attraction in the Australian racing scene. Harry starts to believe that the horse has what it takes to win the Melbourne Cup, the most prestigious race in Australia.

As the horse gains popularity and success, tensions between Harry and other horse trainers grow. Some accuse Harry of doping the horse or using other unfair advantages to help the horse win. Despite this, Phar Lap continues to impress, winning race after race and attracting a devoted fan following.

However, as the horse's fame and success grow, Harry faces multiple challenges including financial difficulties, arguments with other trainers, and tensions with his wife. In one poignant scene, Harry realizes that the horse has become a much-loved public figure and that he himself has become a secondary character in his own story.

The film portrays the horse as more than just an exceptional athlete, but also a symbol of hope during a difficult time in Australian history. The Great Depression was taking its toll on the country, and the sudden rise to fame of a great Australian racehorse gave the people a reason to celebrate and unite.

One of the most memorable moments in the film comes during the lead-up to the Melbourne Cup when Harry takes Phar Lap to a local hospital to visit a young boy who is terminally ill. The boy asks Phar Lap to win the race for him, and the scene is both heartwarming and poignant.

The film's climax revolves around the Melbourne Cup race itself. With millions of people watching and cheering him on, Phar Lap takes his place at the starting line. But it quickly becomes clear that he is not going to win. He is boxed in by other horses for much of the race, and when he finally breaks free, it is too late. Despite coming in second, Phar Lap becomes a national hero, and his legacy lives on to this day.

In conclusion, Phar Lap is a well-made biopic that offers a fascinating insight into the life of one of Australia's most beloved racehorses. Through its engaging storyline and powerful performances by the cast, the film manages to capture both the excitement of the racing world and the difficult social and economic conditions of the period. It is a must-see for those interested in Australian history, sports, or simply good storytelling.

Phar Lap
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Description
  • Release Date
    1983
  • MPAA Rating
    PG
  • Runtime
    1 hr 47 min
  • Language
    English
  • IMDB Rating
    7.2  (1,925)
  • Metascore
    55