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The Black Stallion Blu-ray Review

The Black Stallion Blu-ray

“The Black Stallion” is a winner.

Produced by Francis Ford Coppola and directed by Carroll Ballard, “The Black Stallion” is a 1979 film adaptation of Walter Farley’s novel.  The story begins with a young boy (Alec) out at sea with his father on a ship. After a horrible accident, the ship begins to sink, but Alec’s life is miraculously saved by a feisty Arabian Horse on board. Not only do the two survive the tragedy, but they also manage to make it to land (a deserted island to be exact). After spending time on the island alone for awhile, Alec and the horse (Black) are rescued. The two initially live together with Alec’s mom in the suburbs, but Black finds a more suitable home at a former jockey/horse trainer’s barn. As Alec gets to know Henry more, Alec becomes motivated to train and ride Black. What happens next, I will not say.

“The Black Stallion” is notable for not playing like an average family film. In fact, the film doesn’t feel like your average Hollywood film either. Director Carroll Ballard goes for a naturalistic, artistic, and minimalistic approach to the story as the main character (Alec) barely speaks. The film is often quiet and introspective as it explores ideas of survival, nature, friendship, determination, and the bond between man and animal. It’s a very sweet and sincere story, but it never once comes across as corny thanks to the down to earth performances by stars Mickey Rooney and Kelly Reno.

Another major plus here is the gorgeous cinematography by Caleb Deschanel. Whether the action takes place at the deserted island, underwater, or on a racetrack, the visual style is always breathtaking.

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.85:1 1080p. How does it look? The image is a little wavy in spots and the colors might not always be as crisp as they could be, but this is still a solid 4K Digital transfer.

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? While a little soft in certain scenes, the audio does come alive during major sequences.

Extras:
* “The Black Stallion” trailer.
* A double sided poster that contains a poster and an essay by critic Michael Sragow.
* A short interview with still photographer Mary Ellen Mark that is accompanied by her photos.
* An insightful 21 minute interview with DP Caleb Deschanel.
* A lengthy 47 minute interview between filmmaker Carroll Ballard and film critic Scott Foundas. Ballard chats about his childhood, interests, filmography, and much more
* 5 short films by Carroll Ballard (including new intros by the director) that include a self-explanatory documentary (“Pigs!”), a short about the adventures of a cat (“The Perils of Priscilla”), a documentary about a bull rider (“Rodeo”), a documentary about L.A. (“Seems Like Only Yesterday”), and an educational film about crystal formations titled “Crystallization.”

Overall Thoughts: If you’ve never seen “The Black Stallion,” I whole heartedly recommend it.

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August 8, 2015 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , ,

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