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Kevin Costner's cinematic gamble with Horizon: A Western without a political agenda

His debut at the Cannes Film Festival received a standing ovation that lasted seven minutes.

Kevin Costner(Valerie Macon / AFP)

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Kevin Costner returns to the big screen with Horizon: An American Saga, an epic Western that promises to bring back the classic values of storytelling and spectacle without a modern political agenda.

Costner, who not only stars in but also directs this film, bet big on the project, investing $38 million of his own money and securing the rest of the budget through private investors.

Although it had an impressive debut at the Cannes Film Festival, where it received a standing ovation that lasted seven minutes, projections indicate that Horizon could gross just $10 million in its U.S. opening weekend, a modest figure compared to other recent box-office successes.

The film, set during the American Civil War, explores the tumultuous origins of a nation through a complex narrative that weaves together multiple characters and their struggles to find their place in a shifting and dangerous landscape.

Horizon challenges current conventions by presenting Native American characters in a balanced manner, without adopting contemporary moral signaling that might include overt criticism of historical actions or attitudes.

This approach has divided opinions among critics and younger audiences accustomed to more direct and explicit messages in today's cinema.  However, for advocates of bold creativity in film, Horizon represents a reminder of the importance of taking risks and challenging established norms, reviving the western genre at a time when Hollywood seems to be leaning more and more towards safe formulas and big budgets.

Despite the financial and critical challenges, Costner already has plans for a full trilogy, with the second installment scheduled for August and the third currently in production in Utah.

Whether Horizon becomes a hit or a flop in conventional terms, its existence challenges the industry to keep innovation and classic perspective alive at the same time.