The Black Stallion Movie Poster Image

The Black Stallion

Breathtakingly beautiful, magical classic is a must-see.
Parents recommend
  • Rated: G
  • Genre: Family and Kids
  • Release Year: 1979
  • Running Time: 118 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

Themes include courage and perseverance. The movie 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, based on the novel by Walter Farley, is about a young boy named Alec (Kelly Reno) 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's some violence and peril -- the shipwreck is shown in detail as passengers panic amid rising waters and out-of-control fires, and Alec's father shoves a man into a 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 that part and start when Alec lands safely on the beach. Characters smoke cigarettes, pipes, and cigars (accurate for the era the movie takes place in). Alec is a brave boy who manages to survive in harsh conditions 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 THE 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; eventually they're 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 -- can 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, genuinely magical movies ever made. Part of the magic is that the movie has the courage to be quiet. There's very little dialogue, and there are long stretches without a single word. This allows The Black Stallion's 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 Black Stallion's more intense scenes. Are they more or less scary than explosive scenes in action/superhero movies? Why? Do different kinds of scary/violent scenes have different impact?

  • How does Alec demonstrate courage and perseverance? Why are those important character strengths?

  • For those who've read the Walter Farley novel the movie is based on, how do the two compare? Why do you think filmmakers sometimes make changes to book stories? Which do you usually like better -- the book or the movie?

  • The friendships in this movie aren't particularly traditional; can you think of other movies about unusual friendships? What do they have in common?

  • What's 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? 

Movie details

Theatrical release date:October 17, 1979
DVD/Streaming 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
Character strengths:Courage, Perseverance
Run time:118 minutes
MPAA rating:G

This review of The Black Stallion was written by

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What parents and kids say

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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
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