black beauty

★★★

director: Ashley Avis (adolescence, the trouble with mistletoe)
starring: mackenzie foy, iain glen, claire forlani and kate winslet

 

REVIEWER: lyall carter

A wild horse and a teenage girl forge an unbreakable bond which keeps them connected for a lifetime.

Growing up we didn’t have a TV at home. Instead, most weekends, we would head around to Nana and Grandad’s house for a roast and the Saturday Night Family movie. One such movie was Black Beauty, the Sean Bean edition. 

 

Watching the new, modern Disney Plus take on the classic tale not only did all the nostalgic memories come rushing back but still, at its centre, was the tale of a kid and their horse.

 

In this modern day reimagining of Anna Sewell’s timeless classic, we follow Black Beauty, a wild horse born free in the American West. Rounded up and taken away from her family, Beauty is brought to Birtwick Stables where she meets a spirited teenage girl, Jo Green. Beauty and Jo forge an unbreakable bond that carries Beauty through the different chapters, challenges, and adventures of her life.

 

Although this new take on Black Beauty makes some slight changes (Jo and Beauty are female and the film is set in the USA instead of England) it takes a similar path to the original story. Disney’s Black Beauty is a return to classic, sweet and innocent territory that Disney used to tread during the 90’s with their live action animal films. 

 

While some might find it a bit too sweet, the film retains a lot of its edge from the novel and subsequent film adaptations which explore animal cruelty through the eyes of Beauty. These incidents are slightly more implicit than what I remember from previous adaptations so they won’t scare children that easily. 

Iain Glenn (Ser Jorah of Game of Thrones fame) plays Jo's gruff but heart of gold uncle John with the same simmering emotion we've come to know him for. Mackenzie Foy has the unenviable task of being the straight laced character but she generally hits all the right notes. Kate Winslet's narration at first seems a little bit too sweet but as the film progress she becomes the beating heart of the whole film. 

 

Breezy and super sweet, Disney’s Black Beauty is an innocent tale of a girl and her horse and a welcome return to Disney’s live action animal films of yesteryear.  

★★★

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