By Brian Costello,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
A timeless boy and horse film with some tense chase scenes.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
The movie is set in France and there is a little bit of French dialogue that is translated by the narrator.
The horse responds to the kind overtures of the boy over the cruel attempts to tame him from the ranchers. There is a reverence for innocence, youth, nature in the film.
Positive Role Models
Folco shows endless patience and boundless love as he attempts to tame and train the wild horse. The ranchers are interested in owning and containing the animal and have an angry arrogance to them.
Violence & Scariness
The horse breaks through gates as the ranchers try to lasso him into submission. Folco the boy is thrown off the horse as he tries to tame him but gets up unharmed. Later, a marsh is set on fire by the ranchers in an attempt to force the horse out of its hiding place.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this classic short film is black and white, largely wordless, and though the limited dialogue is in French, the narration is in English. The film is filled with scenes of cowboys trying to tame a wild horse by chasing, lassoing, and corralling the beast. The cowboys set fire to a field to smoke out the horse, and a chase scene at the climax is fairly intense and ends ambiguously.
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Where to Watch
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What's the Story?
In the rural landscape of the Camargue region of the South of France, a pack of wild horses is led by a proud and stubborn white stallion who resists all attempts of being tamed by the local cowboys. Folco, a fisherman's son from the nearby village, grows fascinated by this horse and has dreams of riding him along the beach. Patiently and methodically, Folco earns the trust of WHITE MANE, and a deep bond develops, much to the chagrin of the cowboys.
Is It Any Good?
Filmed in stark black and white, White Mane -- directed by The Red Balloon's Albert Lamorisse -- won the Grand Jury Prize at the Cannes Film Festival, and with good reason. This deceptively simple story of a boy and his horse, told through sparse narration and dialogue, is a transcendent and powerful experience that should resonate with both kids and adults. For kids in particular, there is a touching appeal to the boy Folco's love and caring for the stubborn white horse who grows to trust him.
It's a thoroughly engaging folktale of sorts, and while it has intense action and not the happiest of endings, it's a timeless story of the relationships between animals and people, and the deep bonds that can form between the pure hearted.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the messages in this movie. What do you think the filmmaker was trying to say about the relationship between wild animals and people? Why did the horse respond differently to Folco as compared to the cowboys?
This film was set in the south of France, and yet in many ways it seems like a Western. What similarities and differences do you see in this movie compared to other movies with cowboys and horses?
Did the fact that the movie is in black and white affect your viewing experience? Did you miss color?
- In theaters: January 13, 1954
- On DVD or streaming: April 29, 2008
- Cast: Alain Emery, Laurent Roche, Peter Strauss
- Director: Albert Lamorisse
- Studio: Criterion Collection
- Genre: Classic
- Topics: Horses and Farm Animals
- Run time: 40 minutes
- MPAA rating: G
- Last updated: February 25, 2022
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