Not the Black Beauty you know and love
Staci L. Wilson | USA | 12/29/2004
(2 out of 5 stars)
"There have been several versions of Black Beauty produced for the cinema and for television. One of the weakest versions is the 1971 British production, which focuses much more on its parade of human characters than it does the horse. In the book and several of the movie versions, we get to know Beauty. We feel what he feels, and we understand what he is thinking as he passes from owner to owner. Beauty goes from a loving, happy family and life on an English farm with a little boy (Mark Lester) who loves him, to the cruel hands of the local land baron (Patrick Mower). Then he's stolen by Gypsy stereotypes, shipped across the continent, sold to a circus, and gifted to a gentleman who in turn gives the horse to his daughter. The daughter presents Beauty to her lover, who's a soldier headed for India. When the young man is killed in battle, Beauty is shipped back to England, where he goes to work in a coal mine. Instead of the people in the story being the thread woven through the horse's life, in this version it is just the opposite. While a horse called Ginger is mentioned in passing, the colorful equine characters in Beauty's orbit - most notably, Merrylegs - are all excised.
Adding insult to injury, the filmmakers made precious little attempt to match the various horses who portrayed Beauty throughout the years. Different shades, different builds, and even completely different breeds were used interchangeably. To a horse-lover, this is on par with a director casting Jack Nicholson, Jackie Chan, and Jacqueline Bisset in the same role and expecting the audience not to notice. The only constant was the extremely shoddy-looking fake star painted on the horse's forehead.
Staci Layne Wilson
A beautiful piece of art, but does not engage today's kids
(4 out of 5 stars)
"As a young girl, I was truly struck by this film; the music, the texture of the lighting, and the tall, dark, and handsome leading man leant it an uncannily romantic feel. However, when I tried shared the movie with the little girls I babysit for, the sophisticated narrative and general lack of explosions bored them to distraction. This particular telling of BLACK BEAUTY no longer serves its function as a children's story, but is nonetheless compelling for adults."
Simply the best!
chad edwards | cincinnati, ohio USA | 11/15/2000
(5 out of 5 stars)
"This is, quite simply, the best film version of Anna Sewell's classic novel about the adventures and misadventures of a beautiful horse when he gets seperated from his original owner. Mark Lester(of OLIVER! fame) stars as the young boy who searches desperately for his beloved horse. A gentel, international retelling of the timeless story, and fairly faithful to its source, this version can hold its own against the later, much praised 1994 filmization."
This version is not for young children!
chad edwards | 05/14/2004
(1 out of 5 stars)
"After hearing so much about Black Beauty, and studying horses with my 5yr old we got this movie at the library. I was sad that I had not previewed it before letting her view it. I was surprised to see the fighting with the men stabbed in the chest. After talking with some friends I have found out there are other versions of Black Beauty that are wonderful and good for children to see."