"I don't know what I am good at" - When Mika, the protagonist of Ostwind, declared this to her friend after failing in her exams, I realized that she was resonating the sound of a vast majority of the contemporary youth. In her face, I could see all the frustrations and confusions of a young teen who is put into misery by the institutionalized education and the conformist society. Though she reflected a hatred to her adults and a childish ego, she was so pure and genuine in her expressions. As a film, Ostwind, succeeds in portraying this genuineness which ultimately helps Mika succeed.
The undisciplined and rebellious, 13 year old, Mika is sent to her maternal Grandmother to spend her summers. Mika vigorously opposes it, but her situation lacks any justification. She is sent to the suburban village where her Grandmother, an Olympian show-jumper runs a horse-stable.At this juncture, I expected a clichéd mentor-protégé story where the Grandmother counsels Mika to follow her passion which in this case may be horse-riding. Well, I was proved wrong. The Grandmother turns out to be stricter than Mika's parents and takes no interest in understanding the poor child. Mika is again drawn to her own world and explorations. The horse stable attracts her and there is where she meets the wild and untamed stallion - Ostwind (Windstorm, in English). That marks the beginning an unusual friendship as Mika realizes her unique gift of speaking and understanding the language of horses. However her Grandmother is least happy about Mika's new association as she believes that Ostwind is a dangerous animal and ought to be butchered. The grandmother had tried her level best to tame the wild horse only to get physically hurt by him. So she instructs Mika never to meet Ostwind. Mika disobeys and follows her guts. She is helped by the stable boy, Sam and his grandfather who teaches Mika horse-riding. In a small period of time, Mika grows to be a confidant girl who now knows what she is good at. The rest of the film deals with how she succeeds and proves herself by following her heart and tames the wild and unfriendly Ostwind.
As a story, Ostwind succeeds in portraying the glory of individuality. Usually in such coming-of-age films, untethered youth would meet a mentor who teaches them some lessons on morality, some tips on hard-work and a few on believe-in-yourself stuff. Ostwind never enters that territory. It just lets loose Mika and follows her instinct. The film does not attempt at judgment, doesn't even bother to give advices. It just has one focal point, which is Mika's instinct. Most of the films of the same genre do not celebrate the glory of individual at the level which Ostwind has tried. Those films take the route of preaching values and traditions and take the credit out of the individual. That poor guy or girl will just remain as an instrument in the hands of the conformist filmmakers.
Another beauty of Ostwind is that it has utilized all the possibilities of cinema. The growth of the strong bond between the horse and the girl is magnificently shown with beautiful wide angle shots. The camera has captured the green yards of the suburban Germany so well that we fall in love with those beautiful landscapes. The color tone of the film is extremely bright which syncs well with the positivity of the story. Background music is another attribute which sets the right tone of the film. The music might have been inspired by the gallop of a horse which stands for the pursuit of dreams. Throughout the film, the music maintains the powerful spirit and elevates the viewer's mind. Editing is something which I cannot miss to say about. Usually such feel-good films follow a slower pace, at least in the beginning, in order to establish a context. However Ostwind seems to be an exception there as well. Right from the beginning, at nowhere, the movie lags. The film establishes the characters quickly, giving all the due importance, and does not bother to entertain any unwanted ones. That is very evident in the scenes where we see the reins in the hands of the Hungarian butcher who is most often referred by the lead characters. We don't see his face, but only him waving the reins. The makers have willfully avoided his face.
The actors have also done a marvelous job, especially the young girl who portrays the role of Mika. She has just not lived the role, but has transformed into Mika. She succeeded in showing all the necessary emotions like stubbornness, genuineness, innocence and may be the dreamy lackadaisical approach to life. Another special mention has to be given to the well-trained horse which was the best-fit for the role. Kudos to those who managed and trained the animal! Ostwind is undoubtedly one of the best films I have ever watched. It could evoke emotions and happiness in the audience. It could bring smiles and tears and take you to a level where you feel anything is possible in this world and you could just go and grab it!