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The Black Stallion (1979) torrent
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The Black Stallion (1979)
While traveling with his father, young Alec becomes fascinated by a mysterious Arabian stallion that is brought on board and stabled in the ship he is sailing on. When the ship tragically sinks both he and the horse survive only to be stranded on a deserted island. Alec befriends the horse, so when finally rescued both return to his home where they soon meet Henry Dailey, a once successful trainer. Together they begin training The Black to race against the fastest horses in the world.
Kelly Reno ... Alec Ramsey
Mickey Rooney ... Henry Dailey
Teri Garr ... Mrs. Ramsey, Alec's mother
Clarence Muse ... Snoe
Hoyt Axton ... Mr. Ramsey, Alec's father
Michael Higgins ... Jim Neville
Ed McNamara ... Jake
Doghmi Larbi ... Arab (as Dogmi Larbi)
John Burton ... Jockey No. 1
John Buchanan ... Jockey No. 2
Kristen Vigard ... Becky
Fausto Tozzi ... Rescue Captain
John Karlsen ... Archeologist (as John Karlson)
Director: Carroll Ballard
Runtime: 118 mins
Video : 659 MB, 941 Kbps, 23.976 fps, 544*288 (16:9), DX50 = DivXNetworks Divx v5,
Audio : 42 MB, 59 Kbps, 48000 Hz, 1 channels, 0x55 = MPEG Layer-3, CBR
This film is offered as children's fare. That does not matter to me. It succeeds as an professionally presented film for adults.
I am in no position to bellyache about how little it resembles Walter Farley's children's book. I have read some of the book. The book does not interest me.
Neither does its set-up for whatever sequels interest me. They were, by most accounts, mediocre.
This film, "The Black Stallion", holds a great deal more for me than most other pictures.
The film is one of the most powerfully beautiful sets of moving images I have ever seen on screen conjoined with sumptuous music and gently mesmerizing performances. Its editing awards, cinematography awards, and the awards for its music all were well deserved.
From the wreckage of the "Drake" through the lengthy bonding of boy and horse on the island, through to their rescue, not a word is spoken. It is one of the longest, most intensely cast verbal negative spaces in film. Civilization is dispensed with, language is removed, layers of meaning are stripped; there is no intellectual comfort on which to fall back. Into that emptiness fall the sound of waves and wind and rain as though natural extensions of Carmine Coppola's exquisite score. The film's soundtrack is wonderfully uncomplicated and moving. The island sequences are visited by small groups of instruments in turn -- a harp here, primitive percussion there, minimal woodwinds; no brass intrudes for a long time -- in musical experiments of loneliness yielding to companionship that echo the tentative meetings of the boy and the horse.
Such negative spaces abound in "The Black Stallion", carved from the soundtrack (the roar and crush of sound in the midst of the final race sequence blur out into a blissful, quiet emptiness touched lightly by flute and brass), washed clean of visuals (for the bulk of one critical scene, horse and boy, the centers of attention, disappear, literally, and focus is on the tiniest details of ticking watch hands and empty sheets of translucent night rain), and opened at great lengths in the dialogue: Alec's mother responds to her son's plea with a tortured delay and Teri Garr, in remarkable performance, draws out her strangely active non-speech for many long seconds before her two-word reply closes this particular negative space with the thunderclap of a rushing locomotive and the thrust of a guitar as the soundtrack slams back in.
The final burst of joy from the island sequence's soundtrack is so magnificent, so full and compelling, it is odd to listen, carefully, to its hesitant introduction as the horse finally permits the boy to mount: small flicks at the harp joined by a reed or two before the tympani knock insistently to tell us something miraculous has happened.
And we need that wake up call: We have to come up for air. Our vantage point for Alec's first ride begins *under water*. We see only six legs and, then, much boiling and thrashing in a scene that is as intimate and anticipatory as only the best love scenes ever filmed. And this *is* a love scene, in every sense. The charging aerial streamings and broad panning shots that follow the boy and the horse and the forces of nature, the sand and ocean through which they tear, convey as deep a physicality as in any love scene.
This film, with its powerful sensory immersion, offers much about love and tenderness and touch and connectedness to an audience inclined to forget that most motive force in life comes through the union of dissimilar entities and the experience of sex is, at its fullest, not just about bodies conjoined: it's also about longing and belonging and trust and completion though union with one's chosen and preferred. "The Black Stallion", G rating and all, is one of the most powerfully sexy films ever made. It offers every amended glory possible in any sexual relationship that proceeds past involvement of 'the plumbing'.
In both illustration and disclosure of why this film means so much to me, I might as well mention I was 38 the last time I watched this movie, my first viewing of it in many years. The young lady with me had never heard of it. When, at its end, she turned to hot, liquid sunshine in my arms, weeping in amazement, not fully understanding why she'd been so moved, we began a romance that has refused easy definition ever since -- but I cannot imagine a stronger bond. The magic of this film perfectly mirrored the best possible feelings within us. A kid's movie? Sure, if you say so.
This is a wonderful film. It will not push or drag you. But watch -- and listen -- closely and let it take you where it can and it will amaze you.
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.
I watched this movie tonight for the first time in 15 years and was surprised to realize it could bring tears to my eyes after such a long time - grown up, adult tears. The TV copy was bad with a noisy soundtrack and cloudy images but the beauty of its cinematography seems to be stronger than time, amazingly new and powerful. The island scenes are pure poetry... so delicate is Carroll Ballard's way of catching the rising love between boy and horse - love shining out from innocence. Music is sublime, touching like the most poignant and fragile themes from Erik Satie's.
Many interpretations can be given to "The Black Stallion". To me -who saw it again after losing a friend in tragic circumstances- it is a beautiful and hopeful tale about death. Alec meets the Black -figure of death, wild and unpredictable- the night of his father's passing away and the world falls apart -the boat sinks into flames and cold water. The Black saves Alec, waking up then on a pale morning, alone on a lonely island made of black stone, translucent waters and white, dry sand. Then begins mutual taming between wild animal and young boy. How long will they observe each other, how long does it take for the Black to run gently besides Alec and for Alec to stand by the Black's tall silhouette? It feels like a few hours in this timeless land, but it could be a lifetime.
Then fear is gone, so are individuals - are they not one, running in suspended waters between sky and dust? Desire exists no longer... what do they want, but each other? If the horse is Death then Death is a friend, Death is peace and love and the abolition of time. And dreams are real just like the Black is real against Alec's hands, while in Alec's hands is clutched the unmoving and lifeless figure of a black horse given by his father on the night of his death.
Suddenly comes back the world of men, and horse and boy return to Life, witch is limits and rules and time. Yet when death has been tamed and accepted, frontiers don't matter anymore, and Alec makes peacefully his way into the world, growing along with the beautiful friendship connecting him to his horse. Together, horse and boy, they will prove that boundaries can be broken between man and animal, between dreams and reality.
* The Black was portrayed by a champion Arabian stallion from Texas named Cass-Ole; his friend, the old white horse named Napoleon, was portrayed by Junior - who had previously appeared in National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) as Trooper, Niedermeyer's horse.
* Cass Ole, like most horses, had his mane trimmed into what's called a bridle path. This makes it easier to fit a bridle. For the movie, Cass Ole had to wear "hair extensions" to make his mane look like a wild horse's mane. He also had white markings on his legs and forehead and the white needed to be covered with a black hair dye to transform Cass Ole into the Black Stallion.
* There is a scene in which Alec opens the door of Henry Dailey's office and looks around at all the old memorabilia Henry acquired as a winning jockey. One of the photos is a shot of a younger Mickey Rooney atop the horse that looks to be the one featured in National Velvet (1944). Perhaps it was a promo shot from that movie because Rooney only rode the horse once in National Velvet, and that scene took place at night.
* The black model horse seen in Alec's bedroom is a Breyer Animal Creations Foundation Stallion #64, produced for 11 years starting in 1977 and retired in 1987.
* There is a scene after The Black has jumped overboard and Alec is in the water yelling for help and The Black is swimming towards him. Suddenly the horse begins to tip over, his head plunges underwater and he starts to thrash in the water and his hooves are pawing in the air. This was an accident due to the guide wires being used to control the horse. Too much force was applied on the turn and the horse went under, a serious cause for alarm on the set. To everyone's relief, the horse righted himself and popped up out of the water just fine.