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50 Years of the New York Film Festival

NYFF ‘79: The Black Stallion

 

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NYFF ‘79: The Black Stallion

Carroll Ballard 1979
USA | Format: 35mm | 118 minutes

Special family matinee! Only $6 for kids!

Initially the object of indifference from its distributor, United Artists, first-time director Carroll Ballard’s intensely lyrical film of Walter Farley’s classic children’s novel was buoyed by its inclusion in NYFF (and the good reviews that followed) to become a major hit and and one of the most beloved family films of all time. The superb child actor Kelly Reno (in his film debut) stars as the survivor of a fiery shipwreck off the North African coast, now stranded on a deserted island save for the company of a wild stallion (also a refugee from the sinking ship). Slowly, the boy and horse come to earn each other’s trust, before they are rescued and returned to America, where the boy sets about training “The Black” with some help from a kindly ex-jockey (Mickey Rooney, in an Oscar-nominated performance). Breathtakingly photographed by Caleb Deschanel, with soaring music by Carmine Coppola (father of Francis, whose Zoetrope Studios produced), The Black Stallion instantly affirmed the prodigious Ballard (Never Cry Wolf, Fly Away Home) as one of the cinema’s most poetic observers of man, beast and nature. Print courtesy of Academy Film Archive.

“The first volume of Walter Farley’s classic series about a boy and his wild Arabian horse has been made into a cinematic tour de force that recalls the old Saturday matinee features. Francis Coppola is the executive producer; an important new cinematographer, Caleb Deschanel, shot the spectacular shipwreck and racing scenes; and the director is Carroll Ballard, who passionate love of movies is evident in every shot”
—NYFF17 program note

“When I saw The Black Stallion on a Saturday afternoon, there was proof that even children who have grown up with television and may never have been exposed to a good movie can respond to the real thing when they see it. It was a hushed, attentive audience, with no running up and down the aisles and no traffic to the popcorn counter, and even when the closing credits came on, the children sat quietly looking at the images behind the names. There may be a separate God for the movies, at that.”
—Pauline Kael, The New Yorker

Image courtesy of UNITED ARTISTS / THE KOBAL COLLECTION

Series: 50 Years of the New York Film Festival

Venue: Walter Reade Theater

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