The Black Stallion is a movie that looms in my childhood memories as larger than life—the scenes on the beach with the boy riding the horse are unforgettable and I remember coming away and thinking that was the best movie I had ever seen. I was nine. It has since become a family legend because my mom likes to tell the story of my baby sister, who was one at the time, sitting on her lap mesmerized through the entire movie. And since my Baby is one I understand why that is a big deal.
I rented the movie for my family to see if it could sustain my memory and IT DOES and more. The scenes in which the boy and horse learn to trust each other culminate with the boy riding bareback on the horse across the beach are breathtakingly beautiful. The cinematography is amazing. My kids wanted to know why I was crying.
Based on the novel by Walter Farley, the basic story follows a boy named Alec who is traveling on a ship with his father. Also on the ship is a beautiful black Arabian horse. The ship goes down and the boy rescues the horse, by untying him and the horse then rescues the boy by swimming him to a deserted island. They forge a remarkable bond. They are rescued and return to the boy’s home where they soon meet a famous horse trainer played by Mickey Rooney and prepare to race the fastest horse in the world.
The behind the scenes work of this film is fascinating. They searched the world to find the right horse and finally found him in San Antonio, Texas. His name was Cass Ole, an award winning Arabian show horse. They took him and four other horses and trained them for eleven weeks at a ranch in CA to do things like paw the ground, put their ears back, rear up on vocal and hand cues. The horses were joined by the “boy” played by Kelly Reno and the bond that he developed with Cas Ole at the Ranch carried over nicely into the movie.
The movie was filmed partly in remote locations in Sardinia, Italy, and was harrowing and difficult for everyone involved. You can read about it in detail on The Black Stallion website.
I have always wondered about Kelly Reno (Alec) and his horseback riding. He grew up on a cattle ranch in Colorado and was riding horses from the time he was walking. He won the movie role in an open audition. He planned on acting after his high school graduation, but his pick-up truck was hit by an 18-wheeler and he suffered severe injuries. When he finally recovered, his Hollywood contacts were gone and he is now a truck driver himself.
The Black Stallion is a CLASSIC and perfect for a family movie night. It will please you and your kids and will look gorgeous on your big, plasma TV screen. Pictures are from