The Black Stallion (1979)

Hello dear visitors of !

Today I would like to present you a personal review of the famous film “The Black Stallion” by Carroll Ballard – I guess that this film has to be a real classic to some of you guys already. Personally I first stumbled on this film a few days ago, while I was in the city to do some christmas shopping. Beware, there could still be some mistakes (I’m German), but I double-checked for spelling mistakes et cetera !

So, how to start here ? I think it would be the best if I would shortly sum up the storyline, so that those of you who do not know this flick shall have a better overview. And, the corresponding storyline is introduced rather quickly here: we can see how a young boy named Alec (Kelly Reno) is on a boat trip with his father.

One day he notices a big black horse, which is held in captivity by some men on the ship. He brings him some pieces of sugar; however – there is not much time left for an animal friendship to become developed. Since it seems like the boat went on a riff, and is sinking rapidly now. Unfortunately the boy gets separated from his father, and is already about to drown – when the black horse comes into play. Together they finally strand on a lonely island, somewhere in the middle of nowhere… and: this is where the story actually begins.

theblackstallion01Kelly Reno plays the young boy who strands on an island

And to state it: this film really IS an unusual experience – overall in a very positive meaning. The first and most important aspect that is so remarkable about it is the stunning cimematography, and the ways of filming. We have beautiful nature shots and landscapes, in which the boy and the horse are moving around, slowly becoming friends with each other. We have a lot of scenes were no words are spoken, and not even simple sounds are to hear – just a calm musical tone in the background. This leads to the effect that the audience is totally absorbed by the film, and the optics in general – one can get a really good feeling for the (generally desperate) situation that this boy is in.

Of course, I do not know much about the production backgrounds here, unfortunately there has not been any “making of” on the german DVD that I bought – I just like to ask HOW they shot the whole thing in general. Because the horse obviously is a real one, which seems to be kind of wild and full of temperament – and has a lot of contact with the actor Kelly Reno, even when there is a lot of movement in the scenes. Just remarkable – however I am sure that they took a lot of safety precautions here. But this is one thing that you would not notice – the whole thing seems to be as real as it can get. Such as for the camera handling – there a lot of great shots within. And, special for this period of time: rather fast cutting also. But it is not too hectical at all. However, Kelly Reno just did an outstanding job here. It is his appereance that makes this film working like it is.

A deep friendship between a boy and a horse is developing…

The film is kind of separated into two parts… the first is set on the island, and the second focuses on the times when Alec comes home again, of course WITH the horse, what leads to further situations – wether it are funny, melancholic or difficult ones. The only thing I have to mention in a negative way is the fact that I would have wished for a slightly longer part on the island – by showing where they got water, food; how Alec maybe discovered the island et cetera. Because it is like this: the first half of the film really IS extraordinay, while the second kind of comes along rather common. Still, not as common as in all those new films (from the 90’s and after 2000) that are involving childrens friendships with animals (mostly dogs) – of course ! No, much to the contrary – it is just fascinating to see how the horse gets tamed more and more, being prepared for a great running contest. Maybe this feeling that the first part was much more intensive, more subliminal, more stunning (and totally timeless!) can be referred to as personal taste. However, be prepared for a not so surpising, but very moving ending… all in all – I am rating this piece with a 8.9 out of 10 point rating. Highly recommended for both an adult and a young audience ! Or even better: something for a nice evening with the whole family. A beuatiful portrait on a boy’s friendship with a horse, with lots of universal meanings and great music.


Your’s truly, Ikarus


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