Black Beauty is one of the all-time classic novels and has been told many times, now Disney+ gets its own version of the story, in a modern-day reimagining of Anna Sewell’s timeless classic.
The film follows Black Beauty, a wild horse born free in the American West, who is rounded up and taken away from her family. She is brought to Birtwick Stables where she meets a spirited teenage girl, Jo Green, played by Mackenzie Foy (Nutcracker and the Four Realms), who has lost her parents in a car accident and has to move in with her uncle, played by Iain Glen. Uncle John was my favourite character from the movie; he did not just love horses; he respected them and stepped up for Jo when she needed him. There wasn’t much subtly in how Jo and Beauty both needed the same treatment to bring them round to him, but sometimes the simplest story is the best.
Beauty and Jo go onto forge an unbreakable bond that carries on through the rest of the movie, as they are eventually separated due to a barn fire. We then see Beauty pass from owner to owner, doing different jobs, while still wanting to be back with Jo.
Unlike in the original novel, the movie spends the majority of the time establishing the relationship with Jo, which helps keep the story more focused, as once Beauty moves on, we get to see her do the best she can with some nice owners until unfortunately, we get to see some of the worst aspects of humans.
This movie doesn’t shy away from showing how horrible humans can be, how selfish they can be and more importantly, how cruel they can be to animals. You can tell Disney didn’t make this movie themselves, and it was done by another production company, as Disney then purchased the rights to distribute the film. The same thing happened with “Clouds”, and honestly, both of these movies are far superior to the majority of the Disney made movies.
There is an element of cruelness and sadness to this story that makes it much more interesting to watch. There were times I had to wipe away a small tear, with some anger towards how the humans were hurting not just her but other animals. This is exactly what I would want from a movie like this, to make that connection and to feel something about the main character.
I wasn’t expecting much from this film, but Black Beauty impressed me, it was a bit soppy at times, and you knew where the story would end, but the journey along the way was worthwhile. There are many of the usual tropes such as the bratty rich girls who love the horse-riding scene, but who are horrible people underneath the visard.
One of the only things I found a little annoying at first was Kate Winslet’s narration, as she plays the role of Black Beauty and gives us an insight into what she’s thinking at the time and pushes the story along. After a while, I got used to it.
Black Beauty is the perfect movie for streaming at home, it’s a feel-good movie about a horse, it has some cruel moments, but they are outnumbered by the nice moments in it. It isn’t groundbreaking, but it never sets out to be anything more than that, and I enjoyed watching it. Black Beauty is a good solid, enjoyable family-friendly movie that Disney+ is the perfect home for, especially on a lazy Sunday afternoon when it’s raining!
Rating 4 out of 5.
Roger has been a Disney fan since he was a kid and this interest has grown over the years. He has visited Disney Parks around the globe and has a vast collection of Disney movies and collectibles. He is the owner of What's On Disney Plus & DisKingdom.