Black Beauty [DVD] [1994]

Warner Brothers' release of this classic children's tale does much to rely on the film's virtues (and there are many), but fails to enhance them further with supporting elements. This 1994 version, directed by Caroline Thompson and starring Sean Bean, makes use of atmospheric music and densely framed images, which are made that much better when transferred onto DVD. The choice of either pan-and-scan or widescreen formats keeps a sharp image and encompasses a fantastic palette of colors, which do not bleed. As the main player, Black Beauty dominates many of the scenes, and his dark face contrasts well with his surroundings, the night scenes playing out excellently, with a good balance between shadows and light. The Dolby Digital Sound does well to showcase the horse's Celtic-accented narration (voice of Alan Cumming), with the horse's sounds and remarks clearly audible, if not dominating. The dialogue among the human characters is likewise very clear. What is often off balance is the background music; although never completely overpowering the dialogue and narration, it tends to cut off too abruptly in places where a sudden change for background sounds takes precedent. This package contains the usual language and scene selections and the original theatrical trailer, but does nothing to target its youthful audience or even give older viewers any background information in the form of a featurette or interviews with its creators and stars.
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Ratings & Reviews

Overall Customer Rating:
Rating 4.6 out of 5 stars.
100% of customers would recommend this product to a friend (5 out of 5)

Special Features

  • Interactive menus
  • Theatrical trailer
  • Scene access
  • Languages & subtitles: English & Français


Black Beauty
The fourth screen adaptation of Anna Sewell's classic novel is, in some ways, the most faithful and accomplished. Screenwriter and director Caroline Thompson recounts the life of Black Beauty, an aging, handsome stallion living in Victorian England. The film is narrated by Alan Cumming as the voice of Black Beauty, who spends a happy childhood on a rambling country estate before being ravaged by illness and surviving a horrible stable fire. However, the worst is yet to come as Black Beauty's new owners subject him to life as a horse for rent and, later, as a taxi puller in working-class London, before he can retire in peace. The original novel was written to draw attention to the cruel treatment of animals in 1877 England, and the issue's continued relevance today adds poignancy and gravity to this affecting tale. The film is episodic, as was the book, and the topic is handled with sensitivity and care. ~ Don Kaye, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Sean Bean
    Sean Bean - Farmer Grey
  • David Thewlis
    David Thewlis - Jerry Barker
  • Jim Carter
    Jim Carter - John Manly
  • Peter Davison
    Peter Davison - Squire Gordon
  • Alun Armstrong
    Alun Armstrong - Reuben Smith

Overall Customer Rating

100%of customers recommend this product.

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