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on 13 August 2008
I bought this for my 6 and 9 year old girls, we watched it once and they told me they never want to see it again.
They sat horror-struck at the worsening cruelty and rejection suffered by the poor horse. Me too.I kept wondering why it's hailed as a great family film when we all felt miserable by the end! Not even seeing Sean could cheer me up.
I daren't even give it to a charity shop for fear of traumatising any more kids.
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on 26 February 2011
Well - I thought this would be a perfect film to sit down with my daughter (just into ponies) - it is sooooooooooo emotional - infact it really upset her - especially the shot of the dead horse which had been maltreated - if you want a black beauty for a little girl to watch this is not the best version - I'm going to try to find the black beauty I saw when I was a girl - of the wonderful adventures and not of this very sad story - my husband, daughter and I cried and cried and it took my daugther hours of crying herself to sleep.
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Anna Sewell's novel was originally intended to increase awareness of the appalling working conditions of horses and the indignities forced upon them by the demands of 'fashion' and insensitive owners (the book was widely distributed by animal rights campaigners), so it is perhaps little surprise that the first faithful film version proved a box-office disaster in the US. Despite reuniting many of those responsible for The Secret Garden [DVD] [1993] in the hope of repeating its surprise success, it lacks the feelgood factor of either that or a Free Willy, being bittersweet at best, after an unsteady first half-hour assuming a steadily darker hue as it becomes harsher and more genuinely affecting.

There are problems, mostly to do with the script and Caroline Thompson's direction, both of which seem to lack confidence and ambition in the early stages (production values, it has to be said, are top-notch throughout). That the film is narrated by the horse (and voiced by Alan Cumming) is not so much of a problem as the fact that at times it just won't shut up - by comparison, Mr Ed is a Trappist. Unfortunately, take away the narration and the visuals in the first half of the film would not be sufficient to tell the story alone. Worse, the film is shot too impartially, only rarely assuming the horse's point of view (although a brief dream sequence is beautifully realised) and Thompson initially has difficulty integrating the animals and the humans - top-billed Sean Bean's walk-on part consists entirely of a handful of uninspired and poorly staged reaction shots. Indeed, only Jim Carter and David Thewlis stand out in the familiar cast as the most sympathetic of Beauty's handlers.

Yet for all its faults, emotionally the film works, particularly in its often extremely powerful last half-hour. In particular, Beauty's reunion with Ginger, his life-long love from happier days, her body emaciated, her spirit broken, barely able to recognise him before her carcass is unceremoniously disposed of, is an emotionally shattering and genuinely heartbreaking sequence whose impact lasts far beyond the film's happy ending. Simply filmed and all the more affecting for its understatement, it is one of those rare moments that shows the power of cinema to transcend words and thought and directly address the senses.

The film missed out at the box-office and doesn't seem to have fared any better on video or the small screen. Warners' letterboxed DVD pressing offers good picture quality that highlights production designer John Box's marvellous recreation of London in the cab-horse section while the soundtrack does full justice to Danny Elfman expressive classical score. A minor classic. The only extra is a brief trailer.
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on 18 December 2011
Before I explain what was wrong with this purchase please don't allow yourself to be put off Black Beauty because of the other 1 star reviews. It is emotional but it is also beautifully done and a very accurate representation of the book. I ordered this copy because I wanted to replace an old damaged the video that has been in the family for years and give it as a gift to my sister. However, when it arrived, the box had been damaged and subsequently the DVD itself was loose. It was also unplayable because of the multitude of scratches covering it. I would urge others out there to buy from a more reliable retailer, I was furious!
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on 7 December 2016
This film is one of the best I have seen and I've watched hundreds. I don't have a problem at all with the narration of the horse's thoughts. One thing that the 20th century did teach us was that many animals whom many humans had assumed to be somewhat stupid, were in fact highly intelligent (and possibly more so than some humans). Pigs, crows, chickens, dogs, etc are just a few examples. Thus, "dumb" does not in any way describe the highly intelligent and sensitive animal which is the horse, other than to point out that it can't speak "human". Not to say that it can't communicate with humans, but then you have to know your particular horse intimately. Difficult in a relatively short movie.

The narration cleverly and, in my opinion, very effectively, bridges this gap. Do horses know that they are about to be sold? Perhaps not, but they almost certainly are able to sense when something is amiss, and that's enough to build a story on.

And what a great story it is, as we follow this beautiful animal's passage through life, with its ups and downs, loves and hates, terrors and joys. And even sly humour in places. Throughout, the photography is stunning, with charming shots of the English countryside, and amazing sequences of the horses playing and frolicking together. No sex, of course, which is only proper.

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on 9 July 2000
A lovely film and a must for horse lovers, the film is so faithfull to the book, and so enchanting. I'v seen it about 6 times and every time I'v seen it I'v sobbed, its so real. Its one of the best films ever!
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on 17 April 2016
I myself grew up with the story of Black Beauty and my son taking after me and loving animals we sat down together to watch this. Yes it is very sad and in places very disturbing but I thought it was important for my son to understand that although we have pets who we love and look after, there are people who do not. Both of us were in tears during the film but since I knew it had a happy ending I thought it was good for him to watch Til end. My son was 6 when he saw this and I agree that it can be very disturbing and horrible in places but I have always believed in educating my son about animal welfare and the fact that not everyone respects animals. This has actually made him more aware and he does look at how others are treating their animals and he has huge respect for all creatures. I suppose it is more of a film for adults but parents know their own children and can decide whether this is something they can cope with. Even though I have seen it countless times I sat and watched it again recently and yes, was in tears again so parents be warned. If you haven't seen it and are thinking of watching it with your children then I suggest watching it first without them to decide if they can cope with a very sad true fact of animals being mistreated by humans.
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on 7 March 2011
This movie perfectly captures the essence of the book and is probably the most faithful adaptation so far.

Beautiful visuals, good pacing, and a the heartfelt story of a beautiful black horse who is passed through circumstance and choice from home to home, and experiences both the best and worst of human nature.

Personally I love this film and the message it conveys, however, although Black Beauty is often seen as a story for children the author originally intended for it to be read by adults as a plea for people be more compassionate and thoughtful in how they treated their horses, and it did lead to a reform of animal welfare laws at the time including as mentioned in other reviews the abolishment of the bearing rein.

As such this is a touching and thought provoking film, but due to its nature in addressing the issues of the cruelty and neglect some horses suffer at the hands of uncaring owners, it is also very sad and harrowing in some parts and younger or more sensitive children may be upset by it. Even I found it sad in places, but I agree with the reviewer Anne, the messages of compassion and consideration of others, human or animal, are important ones, and this film conveys them very well. Also the film really isn't as "depressing" as a lot of people are making out..... there is actually a good deal of gentle humour mixed in to balance out the sad.

I'd personally recommend this film highly for any fan of the book, adult or not, but for younger children perhaps rent the film and watch it alone first, that way you can see and judge for yourself before showing the film to them (and easily return it if you feel its not suitable).
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on 22 June 2014
My Daughter really likes this film, but when I pay for a digital product (and it was'nt cheap) I expect to be able to be able to download it, burn it to DVD to view where there is no WiFi or internet connection, download it to a phone or tablet for offline viewing and just basically feel that I own it....

But No..

I do wish this was made clear before I purchased the film... means i always have to log into my Amazon account tie & up my laptop or PC when I need to work..

Why cannot Amazon get this sorted.

I used to be a big customer of Amazon, now I can get most items on the high street cheaper than on Amazon, in many cases 10's of pounds cheaper, only come to Amazon now if I cannot get the item on the high street.

I am really disappointed, joined Prime too a few months back in order to get free delivery believing it was free delivery on everything for 12 Months, this could not be further from the truth, seriously not worth the money, and the streaming videos are quite frankly a joke, still end up paying for anything decent or in HD....

Really disillusioned with Amazon.
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on 11 February 2001
Caroline Thompson's delicate treatment of this heart-warming tale caused an emotional current so strong that I am yet to stem the outpourings of equine affection that were started by this, the most beautiful film of 1994.
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