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Dreamer (2005 film)

film poster
Directed by John Gatins
Produced by Brian Robbins
Hunt Lowry
Michael Tollin
Written by John Gatins
Starring Kurt Russell
Dakota Fanning
Music by John Debney
Cinematography Fred Murphy
Editing by David Rosenbloom
Distributed by DreamWorks
Release date(s) 10, 2005 (2005-09-10) (TIFF)
21, 2005 (2005-10-21)
Running time 102 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $32 million
Gross revenue $38,741,732

Dreamer is a 2005 American family drama film starring Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning, inspired by the true story of an injured Thoroughbred racehorse named Mariah's Storm. It marked the directing and screenwriting debut of John Gatins.



Inspired by a true story, Kurt Russell and Dakota Fanning star as the father and daughter who lack a much needed bond. Ben (Kurt Russell), a horse trainer who takes his work very seriously, neglects his own aspiring daughter while he pours his heart into the care of the horses that he trains.

Determined to make good on her father's overdue promise, Cale (Dakota Fanning) prods him one morning to take her along to work by standing in front of his pick-up truck just as he starts to head out to the track. Ben, undaunted at first, finally gives in and drives off with her in tow.

Throughout the movie Cale continues to prod her father to take her along on some of his work trips and succeeds. One morning, however, while with her father, a horse named Sonador falls during a race, injuring herself badly enough that Ben's boss, Palmer, demands the horse to be put down. Having Cale along, Ben refuses and strikes a bargain with Palmer. Ben, now the owner of a wounded horse has no job and faces foreclosure on his estate, decides to breed Sonador.

Cale, having fallen in love at first sight of Sonador before the accident, begins to sneak out to the barn at night to see her. Cale also sneaks over to see her grandfather 'Pop', Ben's dad (Kris Kristofferson), who loves teaching his young and aspiring horse-loving granddaughter all about horses.

Overhearing one day her father's conversation with her mother, Lily (Elisabeth Shue), Cale hears her father say that Sonador has ruined them, to which Lily emotionally responds back that Sonador is the best thing that has ever happened to them, alluding to the fact that Ben has finally been spending the much needed time with Cale that she needs.

Emotionally hurt after hearing the conversation, Cale sets out to run away and saddles up Sonador. Unknowing of Cale's plan, Ben enters the barn. The door slams behind him just as his eye catches Cale's sitting atop Sonador. Suddenly startled, Sonador bolts out of the barn at full speed with wide-eyed and terrified Cale gripping to her bridle and hanging on for dear life. Ben scrambles to his truck with heart pounding, and sets out after them.

This incident begins to cement the newly forming bond between father and daughter, and also begins to heal the wounds of the whole family that had grown over the years. Sonador goes from being a negative focal point to the hero of the movie.


Actor Role
Kurt Russell Ben Crane
Dakota Fanning Cale Crane
Kris Kristofferson Pop Crane
Elisabeth Shue Lilly Crane
David Morse Everett Palmer
Freddy Rodríguez Manolin Vallarta
Luis Guzmán Balon
Oded Fehr Prince Sadir
Ken Howard Bill Ford
Holmes Osborne Doc Fleming
Sacrifice Soñador/Sonya
Starla Bell Woman Cheering in Crowd

Production and cast

The movie is loosely inspired by the story of the mare Mariah's Storm. She was a promising filly who was being pointed towards the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies in 1993 but then broke her cannon bone (the incident is mentioned in the film by Sonador's veterinarian). She recovered and later won some graded stakes races. She started in the 1995 Breeders' Cup Distaff and finished ninth. She was owned by Thunderhead Farms and trained by Don Von Hemel. She's now known mostly for being the dam of Giant's Causeway. In the movie, when Cale and Ben go to Ashford Stud to check out the studs, the stallions they are naming, such as Fusaichi Pegasus, Giant's Causeway, Mariah's Storm, Johannesburg and Grand Slam, are real horses who actually stand at Ashford. However, the actual stallions were not used in filming. Stand-ins were placed in their stalls instead. In the scene where Sonya is considered for the Breeder's Cup, Prince Sadir says that his horse "Rapid Cat is sired by Storm Cat, the best sire in the world." Coincidentally, Mariah's Storm (on whom Sonya is based) was bred to Storm Cat.

While doing research in Kentucky, the director/writer came upon a vet who told him about a racehorse who miraculously made a comeback after a serious injury, and he loosely based the script on this story. Before being picked up by DreamWorks, the script was presented to Paramount Pictures and Warner Bros, but both declined. Director John Gatins was told that if he could get Dakota Fanning in the lead role his movie would get a green-light. He went to see Fanning's agent and finally got the young actress to sign on. The role of Cale Crane was originally written for a boy, and the role was changed specifically so that Dakota Fanning could play it. The first script that was sent to Fanning actually had the word "boy" in the character description.

To produce the soundtrack, an advance showing of this film was shown to a number of recording artists, who were then asked to submit ideas for theme songs. Bethany Dillon's song "Dreamer" was chosen out of all the submissions.

After the movie, Kurt Russell bought Dakota Fanning a real Palomino horse, which she named Goldie.

Box office

The film opened at #2 at the U.S. box office raking in US$9,178,233 in its first opening weekend, behind Doom.

External links


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