The Black Stallion (1979)

Adventure, Family, Sport
Kelly Reno, Mickey Rooney, Teri Garr, Clarence Muse
While traveling with his father, young Alec becomes fascinated by a mysterious Arabian stallion who is brought on board and stabled in the ship he is sailing on. When it tragically sinks ...
  • Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment Company:
  • G Rated:
  • IMDB link IMDB:
  • 17 Oct 1979 Released:
  • 10 Sep 1997 DVD Release:
  • N/A Box office:
  • Melissa Mathison (screenplay), Jeanne Rosenberg (s Writer:
  • Carroll Ballard Director:
  • N/A Website:

All subtitles:



Trailer:

Beautiful9/10
I watched this movie tonight for the first time in 15 years and was surprised to realize it could bring tears to my eyes after such a long time - grown up, adult tears. The TV copy was bad with a noisy soundtrack and cloudy images but the beauty of its cinematography seems to be stronger than time, amazingly new and powerful. The island scenes are pure poetry... so delicate is Carroll Ballard's way of catching the rising love between boy and horse - love shining out from innocence. Music is sublime, touching like the most poignant and fragile themes from Erik Satie's.

Many interpretations can be given to "The Black Stallion". To me -who saw it again after losing a friend in tragic circumstances- it is a beautiful and hopeful tale about death. Alec meets the Black -figure of death, wild and unpredictable- the night of his father's passing away and the world falls apart -the boat sinks into flames and cold water. The Black saves Alec, waking up then on a pale morning, alone on a lonely island made of black stone, translucent waters and white, dry sand. Then begins mutual taming between wild animal and young boy. How long will they observe each other, how long does it take for the Black to run gently besides Alec and for Alec to stand by the Black's tall silhouette? It feels like a few hours in this timeless land, but it could be a lifetime.

Then fear is gone, so are individuals - are they not one, running in suspended waters between sky and dust? Desire exists no longer... what do they want, but each other? If the horse is Death then Death is a friend, Death is peace and love and the abolition of time. And dreams are real just like the Black is real against Alec's hands, while in Alec's hands is clutched the unmoving and lifeless figure of a black horse given by his father on the night of his death.

Suddenly comes back the world of men, and horse and boy return to Life, witch is limits and rules and time. Yet when death has been tamed and accepted, frontiers don't matter anymore, and Alec makes peacefully his way into the world, growing along with the beautiful friendship connecting him to his horse. Together, horse and boy, they will prove that boundaries can be broken between man and animal, between dreams and reality.

Moving.
Amazing movie10/10

I was so afraid to see this movie. The Black Stallion books defined my life until I was about 14 years old, if not longer (they have always continued in my memory). I read every single book that Mr. Farley wrote, most of them many times over, and I knew every character intimately - how they looked, how they talked, everything about them. And The Black - I know exactly how The Black looked and acted. So - when this movie was announced, 23 years ago, I refused to see it. I could not risk having all of my childhood memories shattered in the course of a 2 hour movie. But recently, in a discussion of favorite movies, a friend mentioned this movie as her favorite. Immediately, I was interested. So, nervously, I rented the movie, and settled in to watch it. My heart started pounding as the opening credits rolled - I was almost breathless waiting for it to start. All I can say is, now that I have seen it, I hate myself for waiting so long. Every detail of the book is captured perfectly, as if Mr. Copolla, Ms. Mathason, et al managed to film all of the images in my head and pour them onto the screen. The cinematography is astonishing, the score is beyond compare as to how well it fits with what is happening on screen. These are the technical details of the film - what is impossible to describe is just how closely this work captures the original book. There is no whiz-bang gadgetry, or special effects, although some young ones may find the shipwreck sequence to be frightening. It is a beautiful story, told masterfully.
A stunning visual banquet. Should be on everyone's must-see list.10/10

For nearly the first hour, not more than a few pages of dialogue are spoken. Yet the camera is able to tell a complicated narrative as well as evoke powerful emotions with nothing but pure visuals. The scenes that establish the emotional relationship between the 10 year old protagonist and his equestrian soul-mate not only move the story along, but provide us with some of the most stunning visuals I have ever seen on film. It recalls the powerful visuals of films like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and NANOOK OF THE NORTH.

Then there is the mind-boggling riding stunts, if they are stunts that leaves one staring in wonder at what the young actor is doing right before our eyes. As far as I could tell, and it was the consensus of everyone who saw this film with me, there were no trick shots and no stunt doubles. The camera is too close and it is obvious that what we are seeing is real. Without giving much more than that away (because these sequences really need to unfold before you with no foreknowledge), it is enough to say that the first half of the film could stand alone as a complete work. Coupled with Carmine Coppola's exquisite score that matches every subtle turn of feeling with every scene, the picture is a joy to behold. A sequence with choreographed movement underwater is nothing short of an incredible ballet. How this film did not wind up on every one of those silly "top 100 films of all time" lists, I cannot fathom. How it did not win a multitude of Academy Awards is a mystery. Caleb Deschanel's cinematography is simply breathtaking.

The second half is no less a pleasure, but as the studios are wont to dictate, a story in the age of MTV and LETHAL WEAPON 16 cannot remain subtle and esoteric -- it can't be simply about the powerful bond between friends, boy and horse, man and boy....trust between creatures beyond words and definitions. So there is conflict, action and a race; the tension that makes for exciting storytelling, yet the rich emotional texture that is achieved even without these more mundane fixtures still dominate the work. And I must add, those more spiritual qualities surprisingly are not diminished by the action sequences but remain the dominant elements of the film's power-of-the-whole. And where there is dialogue, much to director Ballard's credit, it is kept sparse, it's not strained but is quite believable. Even Mikey Rooney, who could have been any director's worst nightmare, turns out a touching performance.

This is a film that marries every element perfectly -- from the music to the photography to the precision editing to an improbable performance from such a young actor. The loudest kudos must go to the young Kelly Reno who turns out a performance that rivets you from the first scene to the last with its power and simplicity.

This is not just a good film -- this is a masterpiece; it's what cinema is all about. And of course the only way to see it is in a theatre on a large theatre screen, NOT on a 19in TV set. Even DVD is more like a xerox copy compared to the definition that a 35mm print provides. If there is an art cinema near you, go to the director and plead with him/her to book this gem. Bring your kids or your nieces and nephews -- the younger generation needs to see what real film-making is all about. And powerful statements about trust and friendship and personal strength wouldn't hurt them either.
Much more than a children's movie...10/10
This film is offered as children's fare. That does not matter to me. It succeeds as an professionally presented film for adults.

I am in no position to bellyache about how little it resembles Walter Farley's children's book. I have read some of the book. The book does not interest me.

Neither does its set-up for whatever sequels interest me. They were, by most accounts, mediocre.

This film, "The Black Stallion", holds a great deal more for me than most other pictures.

The film is one of the most powerfully beautiful sets of moving images I have ever seen on screen conjoined with sumptuous music and gently mesmerizing performances. Its editing awards, cinematography awards, and the awards for its music all were well deserved.

From the wreckage of the "Drake" through the lengthy bonding of boy and horse on the island, through to their rescue, not a word is spoken. It is one of the longest, most intensely cast verbal negative spaces in film. Civilization is dispensed with, language is removed, layers of meaning are stripped; there is no intellectual comfort on which to fall back. Into that emptiness fall the sound of waves and wind and rain as though natural extensions of Carmine Coppola's exquisite score. The film's soundtrack is wonderfully uncomplicated and moving. The island sequences are visited by small groups of instruments in turn -- a harp here, primitive percussion there, minimal woodwinds; no brass intrudes for a long time -- in musical experiments of loneliness yielding to companionship that echo the tentative meetings of the boy and the horse.

Such negative spaces abound in "The Black Stallion", carved from the soundtrack (the roar and crush of sound in the midst of the final race sequence blur out into a blissful, quiet emptiness touched lightly by flute and brass), washed clean of visuals (for the bulk of one critical scene, horse and boy, the centers of attention, disappear, literally, and focus is on the tiniest details of ticking watch hands and empty sheets of translucent night rain), and opened at great lengths in the dialogue: Alec's mother responds to her son's plea with a tortured delay and Teri Garr, in remarkable performance, draws out her strangely active non-speech for many long seconds before her two-word reply closes this particular negative space with the thunderclap of a rushing locomotive and the thrust of a guitar as the soundtrack slams back in.

The final burst of joy from the island sequence's soundtrack is so magnificent, so full and compelling, it is odd to listen, carefully, to its hesitant introduction as the horse finally permits the boy to mount: small flicks at the harp joined by a reed or two before the tympani knock insistently to tell us something miraculous has happened.

And we need that wake up call: We have to come up for air. Our vantage point for Alec's first ride begins *under water*. We see only six legs and, then, much boiling and thrashing in a scene that is as intimate and anticipatory as only the best love scenes ever filmed. And this *is* a love scene, in every sense. The charging aerial streamings and broad panning shots that follow the boy and the horse and the forces of nature, the sand and ocean through which they tear, convey as deep a physicality as in any love scene.

This film, with its powerful sensory immersion, offers much about love and tenderness and touch and connectedness to an audience inclined to forget that most motive force in life comes through the union of dissimilar entities and the experience of sex is, at its fullest, not just about bodies conjoined: it's also about longing and belonging and trust and completion though union with one's chosen and preferred. "The Black Stallion", G rating and all, is one of the most powerfully sexy films ever made. It offers every amended glory possible in any sexual relationship that proceeds past involvement of 'the plumbing'.

In both illustration and disclosure of why this film means so much to me, I might as well mention I was 38 the last time I watched this movie, my first viewing of it in many years. The young lady with me had never heard of it. When, at its end, she turned to hot, liquid sunshine in my arms, weeping in amazement, not fully understanding why she'd been so moved, we began a romance that has refused easy definition ever since -- but I cannot imagine a stronger bond. The magic of this film perfectly mirrored the best possible feelings within us. A kid's movie? Sure, if you say so.

This is a wonderful film. It will not push or drag you. But watch -- and listen -- closely and let it take you where it can and it will amaze you.
Beautiful, please see it for yourself...10/10

First, please don't base your opinion on the last critic's remarks. You must see this movie and judge for yourself. I have been in love with this movie since I was 7 years old (1979) and I just watched it again for the first time in many years. I STILL love it!

It is one of my top ten movies of all time (Lawrence of Arabia being #1).

There isn't any bad acting. In fact, I think that Kelly Reno did a fine job as Alec...clever, introspective, and curious. Hoy Axton did a great job as his father, as well. Maybe I just connect with them because I had a similar relationship with my dad.

I challenge you to watch this film without nit-picking it to death, especially if you have an artistic soul. I thought it was lovingly directed with a lot of original camera shots (for 1979) and perfectly composed/matched music. Do you know there is an incredible length of time during this film where not one word is spoken? Nor, is it needed. Indeed, words would be sacrilege to the simple beauty of the growing friendship between boy and horse.



It's an exciting, heartwarming, beautiful, and moving tale...I can't wait to show it to my future children so I can share the magic.



*PS - make sure you turn up the bass in the beginning so you can hear the ship's heart - imagine being on that ship and hearing that all the time. It really helps set the tone and brings a conflicting sense of impending doom and comfort.