Trailer releases for “Horizon”

Kevin Costner plays Hayes Ellison in “Horizon: An American Saga.” Costner also directs, produces and writes the film, funding much of the production with his own money. // Photo courtesy of IMDb

“When no one wanted to make the first [film], I got the bright idea to make four more,” Kevin Costner said in a moderated discussion last week. 

On Monday, the trailer released for the first two installments of Costner’s new Western, “Horizon: An American Saga.” Costner, known most recently for his role in “Yellowstone,” sees this film as his passion project. He will direct, produce, write and star in the movie, spending $20 million of his own money to fund production. 

The trailer depicts a Western of epic proportions, calling to mind classic films like “The Searchers” and “Rio Bravo.” “You and I are standing guard on one of the last great open spaces,” a voice says at the beginning. Peppered throughout the trailer are gorgeous shots of Utah’s stunning vistas, filmed on location. The three-minute trailer hints at romance, suspense, drama and, of course, gunfights. Also starring in the film are Luke Wilson, Sienna Miller and Sam Worthington.

“Horizon” will follow Hayes Ellison — played by Costner — and his journey westward during the four years of the Civil War. Costner says his film is a “step away from what we usually see in Westerns,” saying that in real life, the West was “complicated.” He said in the filmmaking process that he was “drawn to the little things people had to endure.”

Costner’s purpose he emphasized over and over again was capturing what that time in American history was like and telling a powerful story, highlighting the nuance rarely seen in Western films. Strangers were dangerous, life was difficult and there was no guarantee of survival. The gunfights that are now cliché to the genre were uncommon, but other conflict and drama certainly was. Costner hopes to get closer to portraying what that time was really like, in its heroism and its brutality. “I recognize the courage it took to cut loose and march across this country,” Costner said. 

The Technique asked Costner about what his unique take would be on the Western genre. “I don’t know…I’m not looking to set the record straight or make a history lesson.” Costner replied. “I’m going to get to my gunfight, but I’m going to get there in maybe a different way. Not everybody in the West killed somebody… there were a lot of times that confrontations didn’t happen, and they can be just as dramatic. There’s little things in the movie like somebody seeing their first house go up… It was a home in the dirt, but nevertheless, a woman is brought to tears over that… Those can coexist with the gunfight.” 

“What I hope is that this is a movie that you want to see again because of the detail, that you ask your sweetheart to, or that you revisit it or tell a friend about it. I know that’s what I did when something moved me. That’s my hope for it,” Costner said. 

Costner certainly has had this effect on people before — “Dances with Wolves,” which he directed, won Best Picture at the Academy Awards and won Costner Best Director. Despite his success, however, Costner remained immensely humble about his goals for his new film. “I hope it’s worth [people’s] money — I hope people think they were taken somewhere,” he said. “I make these movies for people because I know it’s not mine anymore.”

Ultimately, Costner expressed his gratitude that this ambitious project that has meant so much to him was able to be made. “I am happy to finally know that my journey for this one is over. It started a long time ago and I think to myself… it’s kind of over for me, I kind of went there. It’s not like I’m not going to make more, but I am terribly satisfied in my own life that God allowed me to get these first two done. If I’m hit by lightning, at least I went west.”

The first chapter of “Horizon: An American Saga” releases June 28, and the second releases Aug. 16, both only in theaters.