The Wanting Mare Explained-Faith And Possibility Are Magic
Nicholas Ashe Bateman’s spectacular haunting fantasy, The Wanting Mare, is about seeing the joy in what you have and accepting what you don’t.
The Wanting Mare is visually stunning and emotionally heartbreaking. Achingly lovely and cruel, it weaves its masterful story in complex sorrow and unrealized happiness. To explain The Wanting Mare is to explain black holes. It is complicated in its simplicity, terrible, gorgeous, and more powerful than you can imagine. The Wanting Mare legend only serves as a starting point for the relationships between Moira, Lawrence, Eirah, and Hadeon and the pain in between.
Just North Of The City Of Whithren. Hidden In The Heat, Wild Horses Run Along The Coast. Once A Year They Are Trapped And Exported To The Southern Tip Of Levithen; To A City Of Constant Winter. There Are Tickets For Passage Aboard This Yearly Transport Ship, But They Are A Rare Commodity.The Wanting Mare
In the world of Anamaere, there is only freezing cold and the one last hot place on Earth. Whithren is a hidden island where horses thrive. Once a year, they are taken by ship to the “frozen place.” Those people lucky enough to get a ticket aboard the ship can go as well. Those tickets are all but impossible to get, however. It’s never explained what happened or why anyone would want to go to the frozen place but suffice it to say the island’s unbearable heat may be a catalyst.
Throughout three acts, we watch as the women who carry the burden of a fleeting dream are destroyed by the despair it causes. Spanning decades and filled with harsh yet glorious imagery, The Wanting Mare weaves a spellbinding tale of what happens when you forget to live in the moment.
What is The Wanting Mare?
The Wanting Mare references both the horses that run wild on Whithren and are trapped and transported to Levithen and the women who are plagued with dreams of a world before magic died. Both are trapped in a cycle of eternal misery. The horses are mythical creatures who are Whithren’s most valuable commodity. It’s never explained why Levithen needs the horses or why they only run wild on this sweltering island, but their very existence makes Whithren valuable. Like the horses, which are so valued, the women who dream of the world “before” live on borrowed time. Whether it is physically being shipped to a frozen tundra or lost in a sad reverie of neverending regret and anger, they are both doomed.
It’s all in the names.
It would be easy to view the names of the twin cities as opposites of one another. Whithren as the withering bloom, and Levithan as the staggering leviathan everyone wants to go to. The Wanting Mare is so much more intricate than that. Both places are special because of the people who live there and the faith they have in the other place.
Whithren is the decayed but still beautiful city where the horses run wild. It is intensely hot, and the city teems with grit and crime. Opportunism and desperation rule the once prosperous city. There are glimpses here and there of what once was. A towering statue stands guard as it slowly crumbles into the sea, marking what was once probably a bustling harbor. Magic lived here once and still could again. If only the women who vividly remember it would realize their dream is about making the dream within their hearts a reality in Whithren.
Levithen is an icy continent far from Whithren. We only get a single shot of the snowy place, and it is enough to question why anyone would want to go there. It’s cold, unforgiving, and lonely. If only Whithren knew that their’s was the paradise. They are literally an oasis surrounded by frigid temperatures. Whithren has everything it needs within, and Levithen needs things to leave to grow.
Moira, Eirah, and the ones before them.
Moira’s birth was the first introduction to this strange world where wondrous things aren’t appreciated. Moira’s lineage is one of dreamers. Dreamers from Levithen that dreamed of a better place. The real tragedy here is the dreams that led her family here. Levithen isn’t the better place, Whithren is. The gift of her dreams is really a curse of want. It’s an albatross that prevents everyone from embracing their lives and rebuilding for the future.
Lonely and lost, Moira lives each day in a constant state of unrest until she meets Lawrence, who was involved in an armed robbery and was shot as a result. She nurses him back to health, and they are genuinely happy together for a time before Moira’s desire to escape Whithren consumes them. Shortly before leaving for Levithen, Lawrence finds a baby and gives it to Moira, virtually ensuring none of them can ever leave. Without an extra ticket, they are all stuck. The child could have stopped the cycle of pain but instead becomes yet another cog in the wheel of desolation. Having lost her only chance and saddled with someone else’s child, Moira raises the child alone and bitter. Lawrence inexplicably never returns for either the baby or Moira. Her secret and the dream tainted him.
Thirty-four years later and Eirah, the child that washed up on shore, is just as lonely as her adopted mother was. She dreams of magic each night, and each day she cares for a prized horse. When she meets Hadeon, the pattern starts again. Desperation, violence, and remorse are the three-headed dragon by which they are ruled. Just as Moira longs to escape to Levithen, Eirah also wants to leave. Eirah and Hadeon meet one night, and they forge a bond. Hadeon is a crime boss, and he tries to give her a ticket Eirah initially doesn’t want the ticket. She is content in the heat, or so she says. She asks Hadeon to go with her. Eirah and Hadeon are just as unsuccessful as Lawrence and Moira, however.
Eirah is beaten badly and dies; as a result, one year after meeting Hadeon. Presumably for her ticket. Hadeon is shot and manages to board the ship and makes it to Levithen to watch as the horses are released into a snowy world. If he lives or dies is unknown, but the women who prompted his journey will remain alive in his mind. Lawrence meets Moira’s other child when she takes asks to help Eirah. Moira gets a phone call from Hadeon from the ship and believes Eirah got away. Finally, she has peace thinking her child did what she couldn’t.
Lawrence and Moira reunite for one night of passion and understanding that ends when the sun comes up. Neither Moira’s other daughter nor Lawrence tells her what happened. Lawrence left Moira because he couldn’t get two tickets, and without both, he couldn’t bear losing her, so he avoided her with his ticket all those years. He gives Moira his ticket after all those years and she burns it because she finally understands the people in Whithren are the magic, and she doesn’t want to leave them. The magic is the possibility of what could be right in front of you.
Maybe the magic has all left because Moira’s family needs to stay in Levithen and endure the cold and desolation to allow Whithren to thrive? New infant’s appearance coincides with the trapping of horses each year begs the question. How intertwined are the horses and the women? These women are all the wanting mares. It is their job to keep the want and need at bay for everyone. They are the ones cursed with a melancholy so bleak it consumes them and everyone they touch. When she tells Lawrence about her dream, she unwittingly dooms him as well. If only they could see the beauty and contentment that was right before them waiting to be grasped.
In Whithren, you are a product of your past and present selves. Mistakes made in the past are repeated over and over again in different bodies. Loves that are lost, betrayals, and selfish acts of cowardice happen again and again. Wounds literally replicate on seemingly other people and places because time is not constant here. Age and color mean nothing in Whitherin. People can coexist with their own selves as if interacting with their own ghosts. It’s confusing and sorrowful, but maybe that’s the point.
Several different timelines show Moira’s fate. Some of it is painful, some maddening, and others just breath-taking. So much of what happens is lost to time. Stuck in an endless loop of love and loss, need and acceptance, redemption and guilt, all the main players circle each other. Each character is a piece of the one before. Scars appear on shoulders before events even happen and foreshadow things that will transpire. The dead are consumed by horses and then turn to ash. Just as the dreams burn, so do the dead, only to be reborn again.
Why did the horse eat Eirah?
Eirah was eaten by the horse at the end of The Wanting Mare because they are the same. As ashes turn to dust, both Moira’s family and the horses all stem from the same magic. They return to each other to start the process anew until finally someday the curse can be broken. It’s romantic and deeply sad that something as simple as learning to love is all it would take to bring magic back.
The Wanting Mare argues hope is a fickle thing. Even as fate conspires against it to subvert love, fate always finds a way. Despair and want are the enemies of hope. If love and happiness are the sword and shield by which hope fights, despair, and want are the dual foes it must defeat. The Wanting Mare is streaming now on VOD everywhere you stream movies including Vimeo, VUDU, and Google Play. To see this film is to be forever changed by it. It will not leave you wanting.
As the TV/Streaming Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre tv. I grew up with old school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. When I’m not watching and writing about my favorite movies and series, I’m introducing my family to the wonderful world of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror. My only regret, there is not enough time in the day to watch everything.