The Black Stallion

As far as this reviewer is concerned, Coppola’s 1979 classic (actually directed by Caroll Ballard) is one of the prettiest sets of pictures ever put together on film—which probably accounts for both its popularity with younger audiences and the impatience with which it is sometimes received by adults. The story is a messily connected series of events involving a young boy and a beautiful black horse, and the relationship that develops between them after they are shipwrecked on a desert island. As in popular children’s picture books, the narrative text is present, but subordinate to the pictures: the viewer expecting mainstream Hollywood storytelling may be bored by the almost silent first half, and confused by the improbable second half. The images, however, more than make up for these weaknesses. The patient viewer is brought into a world of breathtaking sunsets and seascapes, and taken on a visual journey where the sidetracks are much more interesting than the destination. Both locations and characters become especially engaging through careful camera work—close low-angles and panoramic POVs—which helps the viewer experience them as the young protagonist experiences them: as a discovery.

Stacey Snider

Film Info

Title: The Black Stallion (1979)
Country of Origin: US
Running Time: 118 min
Language: English
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Sound Mix: Dolby
Color: Technicolor
Certification: US: G / Australia: G / Finland: K-8 / Sweden: 11 / UK: U / West Germany: 6
Releasing Company: CBS/Fox [us] (video), Filmways Australasian Distributors [au] (Australia) (theatrical), MGM Home Entertainment [us] (USA) (DVD), United Artists [us]
Producer: Francis Ford Coppola
Director: Caroll Ballard
Writer: Walter Farley (novel), Melissa Mathison, Jeanne Rosenberg, William D. Wittliff
Cinematographer: Caleb Deschanel
Designer: Aurelio Crugnola, Earl Preston
Editor: Robert Dalva
Composer: Carmine Coppola
Genre: Adventure / Family