The Goat Horn - A Man's World

Thoughts On: The Goat Horn (Koziyat Rog, 1972)

Made by Metodi Andonov this is the Bulgarian movie of the series.


The Goat Horn is a striking tragedy centred on a man's reaction to his wife being raped and murdered in front of his young daughter as he is away from home. Not only does the man disguise and raise his daughter as a boy after this devastating event, but he trains her for combat so that, when she is ready, the two can take revenge upon the men that raped and murdered their wife/mother. But, as this vengeful plot-line unfolds, the daughter embraces her femininity, falls in love and becomes too empathetic for the task at hand which her father forces upon her.

The most poignant aspect of this narrative is certainly its projection of the idea that 'there's no place for women in this world'. It's this idea that fuels the father's quest for revenge, which he ropes his unwilling daughter into, and is what catalyses his descent into tyranny; which rains largely upon his daughter, who he initially only wants to protect. What this reveals about his inner psychology is that he attempts to take all that is physically inferior out of his daughter as an act of guilt; it is because he wasn't there to protect his family that he must see what's left of them mature into an untouchable warrior. The true tragedy of this movie is then two-fold. Firstly, the idea itself that women can't exist in the world because they'd only fall pray to the malevolence of human nature is a crushing one. And it's exactly this that drives the father's hysteria; he once believed that the world wouldn't crush all that it could, but, enlightened to a more vindictive side of human nature, he now perceives the world without trust in peace and structure. We see this idea bleed into the second element of tragedy in this film as the father believes that there can only be fire, metaphorically speaking, in the world.

So, with that said, the second element of tragedy in this narrative is presented through the daughter, who attempts to reconcile with her femininity despite being raised as a man. The fact that this is quashed and suppressed by her father throughout the narrative, especially with the ending, suggest that his world of 'fire' cannot co-exist with a proverbial 'water'. Thus, the idea of a 'man's world', as represented by this narrative, is one ruled only by compassionless aggression. When the father is then confronted by his daughter falling in love, he almost drowns in confounding dissonance as it is implied that the world (men) can be accommodating of compassion and women. We see this presented with greater complexity when the daughter cannot assassinate one of her mother's assailants after she sees him with a woman, later, having sex with her. Whilst the daughter is enlightened to the awful complexity of the world through the image of a loving accomplice to rape and murder, she manages to walk away with some sense of reconciliation, peace and, strangely, hope. This is because she sees what her father simply cannot; chaos and order can co-exist through archetypes of femininity and masculinity.

The lasting note of tragedy in this film is then captured by the father murdering the boy that his daughter falls in love with - using the goat horn, which is where the title of the movie stems from and is a symbol of, in certain senses, stability and strength. Whilst the goat horn represents strength and stability (because it is attributed to the sturdy animal) throughout the narrative as the father and daughter avenge their mother/wife, this symbol reveals itself to be an expression of all the father fights against - hence possibly appealing to the evil that can be attributed to the image of a goat. In such, whilst the father attempts to protect his daughter by hardening her to the world, he also refuses to allow her to confront it as a woman. Thus, he becomes a player in the dismantling of society's structure - as balanced by both masculinity and femininity. This is what kills the daughter's lover, leads her to suicide and leaves him an agent of chaos.

It's this complex and often profound exploration of societal structures and how tragedy can entirely destroy them that makes The Goat Horn such a brilliant movie; a little bit of a difficult watch, but an easily recognisable feat of filmmaking. So, I'll end with this: have you seen The Goat Horn? What are you thoughts?

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