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The Black Stallion

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I saw this film today, and wrote about it at http://letterboxd.com/neilpcronin/film/the-black-stallion/


"I am not a horse person or animal person in the least, but I have an endless amount of love for The Black Stallion. I cannot remember first seeing it -- I was apparently born having the entire film memorized. It's one of the few movies that I could confidently storyboard from memory.


The Black Stallion has an unusual structure and almost no dialog, but it is ground breaking in that it is easily followed and completely understood by any normal filmgoer. I've never heard any casual film fan call it an "art film" or "weird" or anything like that. It might have been the apex of New Hollywood.


It's one of the rare movies that I've seen where the audience erupted in loud cheers and applause in the middle of the film. I saw it with three kids and they were all completely enthralled by the movie.


The photography is astounding, but given enough time and film stock and some photographic talent, it's not impossible to end up with the raw images we see. It is actually impossible, though, to end up with the film we see without the editing, sound design, and score, which all work so well together to bring such a loud narrative to such a verbally silent film. The end result is sublime.


The climax of the story arc is barely two endless minutes of one of the most intense cinematic experiences I have ever seen. There is nothing particularly unique about the photography, but the sound design and score and editing all meld together into one heavy invisible stress ball in my emotional gut.


The Black Stallion has many moments that are evocative of an undescribed mysticism, but there is no magic. The film has an uncanny ability to transport you into the mind of a normal 12 year old kid by forcing you to triangulate between few simple facts and straight-forward verbal statements.


I feel that the imprint that this film has had on modern media is under-stated. From the score of Journey to visual references throughout Pixar films and Terrence Malick movies, The Black Stallion seems to constantly be just beneath the surface.


There is no chance that this film could ever be made again, but that's fine because we only need one of these.


We saw a nice 4K print in a great theater, presumably the same print that is the source for Criterion's recent bluray release. The prints that existed prior to Criterion's release are sad and should be avoided."

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