In brief: The Black Stallion is a high quality movie for the entire family…a Coppola film from the 70’s that doesn’t look or feel like that. It will enthrall your kids, provide the excitement that only horse-racing movies can inspire, and bring stunning visuals less dialogue that will leave you appreciating the silence.
Further, The Black Stallion elevates our kids’ movie viewing, from mere “kids’ movies” to a piece that’s pretty close to art – given the slow pace, incredible visuals, and multiple themes running throughout.
In the recesses of my mind (perhaps when I was in first grade and our teachers thrilled us with watching a movie before holiday breaks) I vaguely remember watching The Black Stallion. So I was excited to add it to our list for our COVID-19 family film festival.
I recall it being interesting with a child protagonist and an anthropomorphized horse. I remember there being lots about survival and love between person and beast.
Having re-watched it, last night, as one of our family movies for COVID-19 viewing, all of those themes rang true. Even my kids were thrilled this was added to their COVID-19 schedule.
Unfortunately, there were some dated bits of cultural insensitivities, as well, but not so many that I’d dismiss the movie.
The beginning of the movie has some animal roughness, though I wouldn’t say cruelty. Unfortunately, the rough man tyring to tame the beast (and later who grabs the protagonist by the ear) is Arab. That was furthered with the introduction of the dated trope of the wise, elderly black man who comes in to bestow inspiration on the child. These are the only two people of color in the movie, sadly. And these cliché roles are worth discussion with your children…both for their small roles and cultural presentation.
But the movie is a stunning cinematic experience, especially the “2nd act” when the boy and the stallion are alone on the island.
For a half hour or more there is no dialogue and the scenery of the Mediterranean island is sumptuous. Meanwhile, the visual story-telling is intriguing for parents and children.
The movie rolls along slightly slower than what our pre-COVID-19 attention spans could tolerate. But nowadays, if nothing else, we’re forced to slow down and temper our expectation of instant gratification.