The Black Stallion Returns (1983)
User ReviewsReview this title
This amazing epic finds Alec Ramsey, the boy from the first film, traveling to the brutal and glorious Sahara desert , in search of his beautiful Arabian Stallion, who has been taken away by his original owners. Along the way Alec finds a good friend in Prince Raj, who takes the boy with him on an unforgettable quest that will lead them to the stallion, and also to a race like no other. With much attention given to small details, as well as set design and costumes, we learn the fascinating history of this very special horse. Every five years there is a great horse race in the Sahara desert, with different tribes racing their finest horses to win honour and respect from the others. A man from the Uruk tribe goes to dishonorable means to sabotage the race, while the Berber tribe, led by Prince Raj is more honorable in their methods. This film culminates in what has to be the most glorious and exciting race ever filmed, with young Alec and his best friend racing against each other, the boy for possession of his horse, and the Prince, for the honour of his people.
The film score, the cinematography, those gorgeous desert scenes all add up to an absolute classic adventure film. Perhaps this was not a commercial success because this sequel focuses more on the boy's plight, with the horse only making an appearance later into the film. Or more likely, perhaps the whole production was just too "foreign" for Western audiences back in 1983. Whatever the reason, fans of old fashioned adventure tales should give this a look. The actor who plays the teen Alec Ramsey obviously had an uncommon love for horses, and it shows in his genuine performance. Vincent Spano is great and totally believable, both in looks and performance as Raj, and the rest of the cast is fine as well. Filmed in Morrocco, and partially in Algeria lends this special film an epic look. Of course with something like this it is important to see it in it's original wide screen ratio. One of my favorite films now, it was worth that 20 year wait...
Overall, it's a nice family with almost no profanity or anything else that might anyone. That climactic horse race was a disappointment, credibility-wise. They made it ridiculously dramatic with the jockey being slapped off his saddle by the villain, men in trucks shooting at the horses, etc. Nonetheless, even if the ending was nice, even if predictable. Do "good guys (and horses)" ever lose in the climactic race?
Reno's character was a headstrong-but-likable kid and the film is fine. It's just an average adventure story, hence the "fair" rating.
What is most important about this film is that it is that rare gem: a Hollywood film that shows Arabs and Muslims realistically: as human beings, instead of depicting them as terrorists or fanatics, which is what Hollywood usually does (see the documentary "Reel Bad Arabs" for more about that topic). After all, the reality is that most Muslims are not terrorists or fanatics.
This film helps people to appreciate ethnic diversity, instead of hating what is different... therefore, unlike many media portrayals of Arabs and Muslims, the film helps to increase peace and harmony in the world.
The final scene, the horse race in Moroccow, reflects Alex's future. He has pursued The Black with a single-minded purpose. He now has the ability of keeping The Black, but only if he wins the race. He must win not only for himself, but for the tribe of Abu Ben Ishak. But to win the race, he will harm is friend, Raj, who he crossed the desert with in his trek to find The Black. In the end, Alex finds himself making a grown-up choice for himself, The Black, and his adopted tribe.
Kello Reno displayed a genuineness sadly lacking in young actors now. Vincent Spano's role as Raj is done with a subtle dignity for Arab culture, and the movie reflects it. And of course, Cass Ole and El Mokhtar are magnificent as The Black. Last but not least, the score written by Georges Delerue is wonderful.
Unfortunately, the absence of Carroll Ballard's unique vision reduce this effort to a by-the-numbers horse-and-boy adventure story which is likely to be of interest to children only. So, we get a welcome return of 'The Black' and Alec Ramsey, but sadly, the magic is mostly gone.
I have only read the first few pages of the book 'The Black Stallion'. It is obvious that the book is a good children's' story and that Mr Farley's legacy has been to encourage reading in several generations of American children. I suspect that this sequel movie, with its more conventional storytelling approach is closer to Mr Farley's works than the first movie, but this does not make for memorable cinema.
Mr Ballard must have turned this one down, because I can't imagine that he was not offered the director's chair given the reception the first movie received. Maybe he didn't like the 'action movie' script? He seems to be very particular about the movies he makes.
Performances here are generally lacklustre and there is one particularly bad hammy supporting actor turn - if you've seen this, you know who I mean.
One part of me can't help but wish that they hadn't bothered with this. It doesn't spoil the original exactly, but the excellence of the first 'Black Stallion' movie so far outshines this effort that you wonder quite what the point of this was, other than a quick cash-in at the box-office.
One point of excellence - Georges Delerue's theme 'Alec and The Black Stallion' is a wonderful soaring score and could have been a welcome addition to the original movie soundtrack.
Your kids will probably enjoy this. Your mind will probably wander...
The story is faster and the film is shorter than it could be. After a standard opening, all gets better. And soon Alec, the main character reaches the desert, which is the reason why I wanted to see this movie. This isn't "Lawrence of Arabia" by David Lean, I know that, but the desert scenes are beautiful. And it is because of this scenes I like this movie. Everything started with photos from this film that I saw as a kid. The impression was that the desert was beautiful, or could be shown as beautiful. I should have seen "Lawrence of Arabia" already when I was younger, maybe I would have liked it even more than. For me, "The Black Stallion Returns" could have more and also slower desert scenes than it has, without getting a bit boring.
"The Black Stallion Returns" is actually shot in Morocco, North Africa. The cinematography is not poor, far from. But some of the characters could be better done. The choice of Woody Strode as Meslar was perfect, but he isn't used as good as I hoped. Alan Garfield doesn't amuse as Kurr, a villain, I had hoped that Kurr would be cooler and more menacing. Kelly Reno is a bit weak but at least okay as Alec, but Vincent Spano is cool as the Arabian prince.
The music by Georges Delerue is a bit unequal but at times very good.
The best parts of this movie are without doubts the desert scenes, including the horse race in the end (even if I think it should have been even better).
If you hate horses (why should you?) you can't like this, but otherwise it isn't that hard to enjoy this movie, even if it gets very emotional and describe the relationship between Alec and Black as close as a relation can be, which is booth fascinating and perhaps irritating. Here the direction shows what it really wants to show: emotions, admiration, love, friendship and almost worship from Alec to the Black. In that chase, the director (Robert Dalva) has succeeded.
"The Black Stallion Returns" is first of all a movie for a younger audience than me. That is why I see so many ways how it could have been even better, a more "hard core" movie with a harder, more action-filled tune and an even stronger adventure-feeling in style with perhaps my favorite from this time; "Conan the Barbarian". This would be a movie that was perhaps fitting a wider audience, or at least another.
I saw "The Black Stallion Returns" before I saw 'The Black Stallion', I think that is the best way to enjoy this sequel (it is somehow rather independent from the first one).
(Goofs:) Couldn't Kurr's Uruk men have killed the stallion instead of letting it survive or did they want it to survive? This is not clearly explained.
Rating: 6 of 10.
This movie makes everyone tearry because at the end Alec decides to give his priced possession back to his rightful owner. But the thing is that Abu doesn't tell Alec about The Blacks breeding to Johar and about the new foal about to come. That's the only bad part.