While traveling with his father, young Alec becomes fascinated by a mysterious Arabian stallion who is brought on board and stabled in the ship he is sailing on. When it tragically sinks ...
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Inspired by the novels of Walter Farley. After being shipwrecked on a remote desert island, courageous, young Alec Ramsay and a wild Arabian stallion named the "Black," form an irrevocable ... See full summary »
Richard Ian Cox,
While traveling with his father, young Alec becomes fascinated by a mysterious Arabian stallion who is brought on board and stabled in the ship he is sailing on. When it tragically sinks both he and the horse survive only to be stranded on a desert island. He befriends it, so when finally rescued, both return to his home where they soon meet Henry Dailey, a once-successful trainer. Together they begin training the stallion to race against the fastest horses in the world. Written by
Early in the shooting, the untrained Kelly Reno spoiled some takes by looking at the camera. He recalled Carroll Ballard telling him, "'This is the way it is...do it.' If I didn't get it done, we'd just have to do it all over again. Lines weren't a problem. I had a lot of them, but they weren't in whole, long scenes. And I could put it in other words if the meaning was the same - that was all right with Carroll." Reno did most of his own stunts, riding bareback and with a racing saddle, falling from a galloping horse and swimming with it. A stunt double stepped in only for racing scenes, when his character was to ride a thoroughbred running at top speed: "I was too small to hold him back." See more »
When Alec is being rescued, he is in the lifeboat clinging to the horse. The horse is hesitant to enter the water. When the horse finally does enter the water it is already completely wet. See more »
Dad... you know what I saw? It's the most fantastic thing... come look!
[to the other poker players]
Hey! Look, son, I'll tell you, I'm really busy, but... I'll tell you what I do need. I need some good luck.
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A stunning visual banquet. Should be on everyone's must-see list.
For nearly the first hour, not more than a few pages of dialogue are spoken. Yet the camera is able to tell a complicated narrative as well as evoke powerful emotions with nothing but pure visuals. The scenes that establish the emotional relationship between the 10 year old protagonist and his equestrian soul-mate not only move the story along, but provide us with some of the most stunning visuals I have ever seen on film. It recalls the powerful visuals of films like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY and NANOOK OF THE NORTH.
Then there is the mind-boggling riding stunts, if they are stunts that leaves one staring in wonder at what the young actor is doing right before our eyes. As far as I could tell, and it was the consensus of everyone who saw this film with me, there were no trick shots and no stunt doubles. The camera is too close and it is obvious that what we are seeing is real. Without giving much more than that away (because these sequences really need to unfold before you with no foreknowledge), it is enough to say that the first half of the film could stand alone as a complete work. Coupled with Carmine Coppola's exquisite score that matches every subtle turn of feeling with every scene, the picture is a joy to behold. A sequence with choreographed movement underwater is nothing short of an incredible ballet. How this film did not wind up on every one of those silly "top 100 films of all time" lists, I cannot fathom. How it did not win a multitude of Academy Awards is a mystery. Caleb Deschanel's cinematography is simply breathtaking.
The second half is no less a pleasure, but as the studios are wont to dictate, a story in the age of MTV and LETHAL WEAPON 16 cannot remain subtle and esoteric -- it can't be simply about the powerful bond between friends, boy and horse, man and boy....trust between creatures beyond words and definitions. So there is conflict, action and a race; the tension that makes for exciting storytelling, yet the rich emotional texture that is achieved even without these more mundane fixtures still dominate the work. And I must add, those more spiritual qualities surprisingly are not diminished by the action sequences but remain the dominant elements of the film's power-of-the-whole. And where there is dialogue, much to director Ballard's credit, it is kept sparse, it's not strained but is quite believable. Even Mikey Rooney, who could have been any director's worst nightmare, turns out a touching performance.
This is a film that marries every element perfectly -- from the music to the photography to the precision editing to an improbable performance from such a young actor. The loudest kudos must go to the young Kelly Reno who turns out a performance that rivets you from the first scene to the last with its power and simplicity.
This is not just a good film -- this is a masterpiece; it's what cinema is all about. And of course the only way to see it is in a theatre on a large theatre screen, NOT on a 19in TV set. Even DVD is more like a xerox copy compared to the definition that a 35mm print provides. If there is an art cinema near you, go to the director and plead with him/her to book this gem. Bring your kids or your nieces and nephews -- the younger generation needs to see what real film-making is all about. And powerful statements about trust and friendship and personal strength wouldn't hurt them either.
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