The Black Stallion
Common Sense Media says
What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that The Black Stallion is a 1979 movie about a young boy who develops a deep bond with the horse who saved his life in the aftermath of the shipwreck that took his father's life. There is some violence and peril -- the shipwreck is shown in detail as passengers panic amid rising waters and out-of-control fires; and the father of the lead boy shoves a man into fire after he's caught trying to steal the boy's life jacket. Given how upsetting the shipwreck scene is, parents may want to skip over this part and start when Alec lands safely on the beach. Characters smoke cigarettes, pipes, and cigars. Alec is a brave boy who manages to survive after a shipwreck and learns the importance of responsibility and patience. This is a beautiful movie for the whole family and one of the best horse-themed movies ever made.
What's the story?
As BLACK STALLION begins, a young boy named Alec Ramsey (Kelly Reno) is on a ship with his father. Everything seems mysterious to him: the exotic passengers, the high-stakes poker game his father is playing, the wild and beautiful black horse he comforts with sugar cubes. Then the ship is destroyed in a storm, and only Alec and the horse survive. Alec patiently and persistently tames the horse. They are rescued and return to Alec's home. When the horse runs to a farm, Alec meets Henry (Mickey Rooney), a former trainer. They enter the horse in a race against two champions, and he and Alec triumph.
Is it any good?
Walter Farley's novel was adapted by director Carroll Ballard and Francis Ford Coppola's studio into one of the most breathtakingly beautiful and genuinely magical movies ever made. Part of the magic is that the movie has the courage to be quiet. There is very little dialogue, and there are long stretches without a single word. It allows its images to do the work, and the cinematography by Caleb Deschanel is a joy for the eye and the spirit, creating exactly the right atmosphere for what Pauline Kael said "may be the greatest children's movie ever made."
Families can talk about...
Families can talk about the importance of the story Alec's father tells about Alexander the Great and his horse. Why does the horse trust Alec? Why is it important for Alec to win the race?
What lessons does Alec learn from his experiences?
How does this movie compare with other movies in which horses are central to the story line?