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COVID-19 Family Film Festival: The Black Stallion

COVID-19 Family Film Festival: The Black Stallion

receives 5 teddy bears out of 5
A 5-teddy bear review for “The Black Stallion”. This is a must-watch for families.

In brief: The Black Stallion is a high quality movie for the entire family…a Coppola film from the 70’s that doesn’t look or feel like that. It will enthrall your kids, provide the excitement that only horse-racing movies can inspire, and bring stunning visuals less dialogue that will leave you appreciating the silence.

Further, The Black Stallion elevates our kids’ movie viewing, from mere “kids’ movies” to a piece that’s pretty close to art – given the slow pace, incredible visuals, and multiple themes running throughout.

In the recesses of my mind (perhaps when I was in first grade and our teachers thrilled us with watching a movie before holiday breaks) I vaguely remember watching The Black Stallion. So I was excited to add it to our list for our COVID-19 family film festival.

I recall it being interesting with a child protagonist and an anthropomorphized horse. I remember there being lots about survival and love between person and beast.

Having re-watched it, last night, as one of our family movies for COVID-19 viewing, all of those themes rang true. Even my kids were thrilled this was added to their COVID-19 schedule.

Unfortunately, there were some dated bits of cultural insensitivities, as well, but not so many that I’d dismiss the movie.

The beginning of the movie has some animal roughness, though I wouldn’t say cruelty. Unfortunately, the rough man tyring to tame the beast (and later who grabs the protagonist by the ear) is Arab. That was furthered with the introduction of the dated trope of the wise, elderly black man who comes in to bestow inspiration on the child. These are the only two people of color in the movie, sadly. And these cliché roles are worth discussion with your children…both for their small roles and cultural presentation.

But the movie is a stunning cinematic experience, especially the “2nd act” when the boy and the stallion are alone on the island.

For a half hour or more there is no dialogue and the scenery of the Mediterranean island is sumptuous. Meanwhile, the visual story-telling is intriguing for parents and children.

The movie rolls along slightly slower than what our pre-COVID-19 attention spans could tolerate. But nowadays, if nothing else, we’re forced to slow down and temper our expectation of instant gratification.

And the Black Stallion is, indeed, spectacularly gratifying, especially for your COVID-19 Family Film Festival.

10 Best of COVID-19 Film Festival for Families

10 Best of COVID-19 Film Festival for Families

Our 10 best of COVID-19 Film Festival for families includes movies that entertain parents and expand the kids’ world. That’s the E.C.Knox standard.

(And Disney need not apply.)

When venturing beyond the Disney/Minions/blockbuster realm, movies get more nuanced and profound. They’re frequently calmer and quieter, which might not cater to our current, fast-paced, frenetic society.

But in the midst of a pandemic, we’ve all got time to slow down and let our attention spans adapt, right? That might be most important for our kids.

The following are a top-ten in our personal “COVID-19 Film Festival”. And even if kids say “this is old-fashioned”, nine times out of ten they’re catatonic when a screen is illuminated, anyway, amiright?

So go ahead: stretch their limits and encourage them to see classics that deal with more mature topics that aren’t Disney-fied and simplified.

Consider it part of their cultural expansion during this hell of online learning and homeschooling.

Our 10 best of COVID-19 Film Festival for families should actually count as “online learning”.

You’re welcome.

The Black Stallion (full review)

is a high quality movie for the entire family…a Coppola film from the 70’s that doesn’t look or feel like that. It will enthrall your kids, provide the excitement that only horse-racing movies can inspire, and bring stunning visuals less dialogue that will leave you appreciating the silence. Further – you can cash in on the equally interesting sequel, The Black Stallion Returns. Watch on Amazon and Hoopla through your local library. WATCH THE TRAILER.

A Dog’s Purpose (full review)

What particularly moved me was the provocative questions the movie inspired: thoughts about reincarnation, mortality, kindness and mindfulness that are beautifully posed for young viewers. Watch on Amazon and Netflix.

The Little Prince (Full Review)

In short – your soul will be filled, the kids might lose focus, but screw ’em – they have the TV on, don’t they? And it’ll make them better little people. Watch on Amazon and Netflix.

The Red Balloon

A classic French tale with rapturous views of Paris in the 1960’s. Very little dialogue (luckily…since young kids won’t be interested in scanning subtitles over French speakers). But the simple relationship story of a little boy and his new favorite pet is universal (not to mention the heart-break of bullying) will be thought-provoking for your kiddos. A must-see. Watch here.

Coraline

One of the few animated movies I wanted to include. Just quirky and bizarre enough with lots of child-appropriate darkness. Remind your kids that Disney isn’t the end-all/be-all for animation. Watch here and on Netflix.

Heidi

This isn’t the Shirley Temple version, don’t you worry. So you won’t suffer from saccharine perspective of a hard life in the 19th century Alps (pre-Swiss bank accounts and highest global standard of living.) If you’ve never actually read the book (for reals: who has?) you’ll be surprised at some of the twists and turns of this movie. It’s also an excellent bit of exposure to “life in different eras and locales” for the kiddos. Watch on Amazon and Hoopla.

Matilda

This version of the classic Roald Dahl children’s story is hilariously quirky (directed by Danny Devito, after all). It lacks some of the actual darkness of the book, but it’s still just off-beat enough your kids will see “oh, that’s a fun way of telling a kids’ story.” Buy on Amazon or stream on Netflix.

Sound of Music

You know it’s been too long since you watched this with your own family on Thanksgiving. It’s long, it has Nazis, it might not seem like pre-school viewing. But didn’t you watch it in preschool? Exactly. It’s a classic. Re-familiarize yourself with the most classic of American movie musicals. Stream on Amazon.

Babe

In that charming way that foreign movies just don’t feel, well…American, Babe is heart-warming and adorable without feeling nauseatingly sappy. Once again, it opens your mind and heart with just the right amount of cheeky humor to delight the parents. Find it here and all the other places you should google. 🙂

Chicken Run

Why not show your kids the hilarity of stop-motion animation? It’s an entirely different art form that brings such different expression to stories and characters. And Chicken Run sends enough jokes over the kids’ heads to make you howl. Everyone can learn more from chickens. Stream on Amazon.

Yellow Submarine

Go ahead. Take your kids on a 1960’s head trip. It’s incomprehensible to the non-imbibers of edibles, but the incomprehensibility is also full of dated hilarity. Go ahead. Take the kids on a yellow submarine head trip. They’ll look at you like your crazy, but also it’ll make them the coolest kids on the playground…or at least serve their cool factor amongst the intelligent elite at college.

Chitty Chitty Bang Bang

The lesser-known of the 1960’s family classics like Mary Poppins, this is still a classic movie musical that you won’t hate and the kids will this is cool. Just indulge your inner child, again, and go along for the ride. Hollywood movie musicals at their 1960’s best. Stream on Amazon, free on Hoopla, or on Netflix.

And some honorable, self-evident choices that are must-sees in life:

Please add to our list! We need to grow beyond 10 best of COVID-19 Film Festival for families.

COVID-19 Film Festival: The Little Prince

COVID-19 Film Festival: The Little Prince

4 Bears (out of 5) for COVID-19 Film Festival Selection: The Little Prince

This addition to the COVID-19 Film Festival review is a little snobby, but in short – your soul will be filled, the kids might lose focus, but screw ’em – they have the TV on, don’t they? And it’ll make them better little people.

The Little Prince (available on Netflix) is a unique take on the children’s classic, The Little Prince, simultaneously re-telling the tale while reflecting the messages of the book through a modern story of an unexpected friendship between a little girl and an old man.

The entire movie has a certain Netflix-filtered-through-European-sensibility that makes it less aggressively upbeat as American animated blockbusters. There’s more silence, more profundity, more sadness, and more time.


Your kids might fidget a bit, but once they get into the story, they should stay enthralled.

This is a movie that elevates children and expands their vision and appreciation for artistic themes and story-telling, not to mention movies a bit off the conventional path. Give it a try. You won’t be wasting your time.

Our entire focus in our family film festival is to watch things that won’t make me want to tear my hair out and won’t make the kids immediately wish they were dissolving their brains watching crappy YouTube content. This one definitely foots the bill.

And while you’re at it, supplement your COVID-19 film festival viewing by buying the book. It’s also one of those that elevates us with profound stories that children understand so inherently and adults forget with age.

One sees clearly only with the heart. Anything essential is invisible to the eyes.” – Anthone de Saint-Exupéry, The Little Prince

Now ain’t profound sentences like that the kind of advice we could all absorb during these COVID-19 times?

Trust – there’s lots more where that comes from in this movie. Served up by an all-start cast, at that.

Please share with us YOUR additions to some quality COVID-19 viewing!