A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know Black Beauty is a handsome adaptation of Anna Sewell's 1877 children's classic that's emotionally harrowing, but ultimately heartwarming. Even the most stoic of kids will be moved. Because of the film's intense and sad scenes, parents are advised to use caution when allowing younger and more sensitive children to watch this film. Older children will love it for its action and a noble creature with which to empathize. Some teens may be a bit old for a horse story, but the movie is engaging, especially for teens interested in animal rights.
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What's the story?
BLACK BEAUTY is a carefree colt, just beginning his training, when he is sold to the loving Gordon family. Here, Beauty meets a spirited young filly named Ginger and proves his heroism in a raging river. But good-natured stable boy Joe doesn't care for him properly and the horse becomes sick. Joe nurses Beauty back to health and later rescues him from a stable fire. Beauty and Ginger are sold and both horses (particularly Ginger) are abused by their new family. Scarred but still spry, Beauty eventually is bought by Jerry, a decent man who operates a livery cab. This life proves harder on Jerry than on his horse. Beauty is sold again, then nearly worked to death hauling grain. At last, he is rescued by Joe and put out to pasture to enjoy the last years of his life.
Is it any good?
This film does an excellent job of capturing the tone and spirit of Anna Sewell's book. In telling the story from the horse's point of view, it stays faithful to its source and keeps the dignified leading character front and center. Legions of youngsters cherish the 1877 children's classic, with its natural and man-made disasters, its sadistic villains, and noble heroes. The book was an early animal rights story, and the movie follows in the same vein.
Kids will be wholly captivated by the movie, and Beauty's many close calls will keep them on the edge of their seat. There are delightful moments like the newborn foal struggling to stand and the raucous playfulness between Beauty and Ginger, as well as sad ones, like when young Joe had to give up Beauty, and cried when Ginger died. Black Beauty packs a punch and parents should be ready for children's emotional reactions. Since it's told in flashback, children know from the movie's opening that Beauty will turn out okay, but his many trials along the way make a significant impression.
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