A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that sensitive children may be upset by the cruel treatment of horses. Many 5- and 6-year-old kids will love the horse's tale, but parents may have to read the occasional subtitles. Parents should be aware that the little horse nearly drowns, gets separated from his mother, and then almost dies of loneliness and neglect on the cross-continental journey. Also, thirst, snakes, and Caesar, an evil black stallion, almost do Lucky in when he is left to fend for himself in the desert. When the town is bombed, the horses are threatened by fire.
What's the story?
Set in 1914, RUNNING FREE is the story of Lucky, a colt born on a German supply ship bound for Africa. Lucky isn't so fortunate when he's separated from his mom, but things look up for the little guy when he meets an orphan stable boy named Richard. But when World War I begins, Lucky must learn to fend for himself. Out in the wilds of Africa, the horse befriends an antelope and an African girl.
Is it any good?
Beautifully shot by Russian director Sergei Bodrov, the Namibian landscape of South Western Africa unfolds in all its splendor. A-five-year-old boy sat rapt throughout, staring in wide-eyed wonder at the African scenery and totally caught up in Lucky's many traumas. He gripped his seat and rocked back and forth as the horse faced certain death on numerous occasions.
The young viewer could not read and needed to have the subtitles whispered to him. For example, "twelve years later" is essential information if audience members are to figure out that young Richard has grown up and returned to the desert to find his horse. The same little fellow laughed out loud at the little bare bums of the African bush children. Older children and adults will be put off by the redundant narration, which steps all over the hard work of the director. The endless and often inane commentary, voiced without passion by Lukas Haas, detracts from splendid visuals that tell a lucid story on their own.
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