The Black Stallion



Breathtakingly beautiful and magical horse movie.
Parents recommend
  • Review Date: May 5, 2003
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1979
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Explores the deep bond that can develop between people and animals. 

Positive role models

Alec is a brave boy who manages to survive after a shipwreck. He learns the importance of responsibility and patience when training the horse who helped save his life.

Violence & scariness

The shipwreck scene is intense and may be upsetting to kids. A ship catches fire and takes on water. Passengers are shown panicking, and a man even takes a knife to a young boy and cuts off his life jacket. The boy's father shoves the man into fire. A boy is shown alone and scared in the shipwreck's aftermath, surviving alone on an island. 

Sexy stuff
Not applicable
Not applicable
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Characters smoke cigarettes, cigars, and pipes (accurate for the era) and drink alcohol. 

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? 

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 17, 1979
DVD release date:May 1, 2001
Cast:Kelly Reno, Mickey Rooney, Teri Garr
Director:Carroll Ballard
Genre:Family and Kids
Topics:Adventures, Book characters, Friendship, Horses and farm animals
Run time:118 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of The Black Stallion was written by

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Kid, 11 years old September 12, 2011

Great Movie!

the ship sinking scene is really intense it even freaked me out about that but everything else is fine if you have someone who is 9 and under you should have parent guidance my opinion: PG for some scenes may upset young children
What other families should know
Too much violence
Kid, 12 years old April 20, 2010

Worth The Watch!!

Pretty Cool Horse Movie, in fact, I wish I could ride like that!!!!!! Story about a gorgeous Arab and a fantastic story about how an enthusiastic boy tries to tame it.
Adult Written bysarah_from_yale April 9, 2008


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