Sunday, November 24, 2013

Black Beauty

1994, US/UK, directed by Caroline Thompson

My wife takes my son to the library every week, and he's in the habit of picking up a DVD on most visits. He generally picks the boxes at random and rarely asks to actually watch the DVD once he gets home so we often return them unopened. I'm not sure if the thought process here was any more considered, though the striking cover image of a rearing horse may have caught his eye, but we did end up watching the film on this occasion. He seemed to enjoy it quite a good deal, even if he had some questions about the progression of the story: it's not that easy to explain to a nearly-three-year-old that the horse is speaking in voiceover, even with the imaginative capacity of the young child. He was alarmed, however, by a scene of fire, and very uncharacteristically jumped into my arms, and has commented on the scene a number of times since then.

Somewhere online, I came across a review that suggested this is a rather Dickensian telling of the tale -- true enough for the scenes in the city, but the opening segment is rather more in the benevolent gentry mode, with horses and grooms alike grateful to their master, even if the film does subsequently point out that this was by no means the only experience one might have in the employ of a large country house. The scenes focused exclusively on the horses at play are quite beautiful, all other critique aside: they are indeed gorgeous animals.

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Boston, Massachusetts, United States