Black Beauty Parent Guide
This is more of a remix than a straight up adaptation of the classic novel.
Parent Movie Review
John Manly (Iain Glen) works at a rescue ranch, where wild horses are taken in, trained, and sold on. His job is fulfilling, but it’s about to get more complicated. John has recently acquired the stubbornest horse he’s ever encountered, a black mustang called Beauty (voiced by Kate Winslet). He has also inherited his niece, Jo (Mackenzie Foy) following some familial misfortune. Not sure how to help either of them, John soon finds that Jo and Beauty are helping each other. Jo is quite taken with the unbreakable mare, and Beauty is a much gentler horse when Jo is around. But even as things improve for the two of them, the future holds some unpleasant surprises…
This is more of a remix than an adaptation of Anna Sewell’s novel of the same name. Both Beauty and Jo were originally male characters (Jo being Joe in the book), and their relationship was far less of a focal point. More dramatically, the time and place have been changed from Victorian England to modern-day New York. Beauty is now a wild mustang, rather than a gentle farm horse. If you’re looking to cheat your way through a book report by watching the movie, this is not the adaptation you’re looking for.
What surprised me is that the movie is remarkable faithful to some of the plot points in the novel. Victorian novels were seldom simple entertainment, and Black Beauty is no exception. Anna Sewell wrote the book as a polemic against the way some people treat horses, and the plot is structured to follow her complaints. Poor stable conditions, bad horse-care, and the cruelty of things like “bearing reins” all get laid bare in the story.
By preserving those details, the movie keeps a lot of the heart and sincerity of the novel. The messaging in this film is all about the importance of kindness and empathy and love – perfect for kids of all ages. And you could certainly show this to a child of any age. Although there are some scenes that might be too intense for really little kids, anyone over the age of five should be perfectly capable of dealing with this movie (unless they are unusually sensitive). You’ll see some minor injuries, usually accidental, and that’s about all. While I’m not going to say this is a movie for everyone, it is a surprisingly heartfelt little movie, perfect for the animal lover in your life.Directed by Ashley Avis. Starring Kate Winslet, Claire Forlani, and Mackenzie Foy. Running time: 108 minutes. Theatrical release November 27, 2020. Updated November 30, 2020
Watch the trailer for Black Beauty
Rating & Content Info
Why is Black Beauty rated TV-PG? Black Beauty is rated TV-PG by the MPAA
Violence: Several individuals and animals are mildly injured in accidents and emergencies. A horse is subjected to cruel treatment and is shown with injuries. A dead horse is seen.
Sexual Content: None.
Profanity: Occasional terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated November 30, 2020
Black Beauty Parents' Guide
What was the context around horses when the book was written? How has it changed in the nearly 150 years since? What is the relationship like between humanity and horses? What kind of treatment does Beauty get over the course of want her life?
If you think you want to have a horse of your own, make sure you do your research first. Here are a few places to start.
The Horse: Read this before you buy your first horse
Horse Family: 10 Tips for First-Time Horse Owners
Loved this movie? Try these books…
Black Beauty is adapted from a novel of the same name by Anna Sewell. Young fans of wild horses will also appreciate Marguerite Henry’s novel, Misty of Chincoteague. Also beloved by generations of horse fans is National Velvet by Enid Bagnold, a story of an unlikely winner of the Grand National Steeplechase. In My Friend Flicka, Mary O’Hara tells the story of a young boy in Wyoming who is given a horse to help him develop responsibility.