The Black Stallion (1979)

Genres - Adventure, Children's/Family  |   Sub-Genres - Animal Picture, Family-Oriented Adventure  |   Release Date - Oct 17, 1979 (USA)  |   Run Time - 118 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - G
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Review by Michael Betzold

One of the most visually stunning family films ever made, Carroll Ballard's The Black Stallion is a fantastic tale about the liberation of a wild Arabian horse who saves Alec, a shipwrecked boy, and becomes his best friend. The film's first half-hour is daring, with no dialogue and breathtaking underwater photography of the horse and the boy. The reverie is broken by the more conventional second half, which features Mickey Rooney in a pleasing comeback role as a horse trainer who helps Alec race the untamed stallion. Kelly Reno is superbly authentic as Alec, but the real stars are the horse and the brilliant cinematography of Caleb Deschanel. The craftsmanship of the film, including a graceful score by Carmine Coppola, puts most child-and-animal films to shame. Ballard's background as a cinematographer influences the beauty of this and all his films, including Fly Away Home. He was not on board for the inferior sequel, The Black Stallion Returns, which lacks the original's beauty and charm.