Monday, September 04, 2006

More Top Ten

I am continuing my top ten list (give or take) as requested by some of my students. One note--I am limiting this list to narrative features only, though my favorite film of all time is generally considered a documentary (and I will write about it). Also, from here on out, the list is in alphabetical order.

The Black Stallion
, 1979, Written by Melissa Mathison, Jeanne Rosenberg, and William Wittliff; Based on the book by Walter Farley; Directed by Carroll Ballard.

As a child, I read all the Black Stallion books by Walter Farley (my mom had been a horse lover and we had a horse). I saw the movie in the theater at age 8. Yet, I had very little memory of the movie when I saw it again as an adult and it became one of my favorites. In some ways, the movie is a typical fantastical children's movie (a ten year old boy riding a stallion in a professional horse race is unbelievable even for Hollywood). Yet, in other ways the movie transcends the children's genre and is much more complex. After the opening shipwreck, the movie spends an entire act on a deserted island--the scenes are gorgeous, there's almost no dialogue, and the relationship between boy and horse is transcendental. After the boy and the stallion are rescued, there is always a tension about the domestification of the horse and a feeling that the stallion is sacrificing his wildness out of love for the boy (the boy has no father). The result of this tension is one of most subtle, bittersweet endings in cinema. In the big race, the boy and the stallion, of course, win the race (I'm not giving anything away--this is a children's movie) and as they pull away, the boy releases his hands from the horse and holds them above his head, paralleling a shot from the island. In fact, the movie cuts to the shot, and the happiness of the victory gives way to sadness over the loss of innocence and a realization that the simple perfection of the boy, the horse, and the island is gone and will never be regained...


Post a Comment

<< Home