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Black Beauty (2020 film)

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Black Beauty
Black Beauty Disney+ Poster.jpeg
Disney+ release poster
Directed byAshley Avis
Screenplay byAshley Avis
Based onBlack Beauty
by Anna Sewell
Produced by
Narrated byKate Winslet
CinematographyDavid Procter
Edited byAshley Avis
Music byGuillaume Roussel
Distributed by
Release date
  • November 27, 2020 (2020-11-27) (United States)
Running time
110 minutes
  • United States
  • United Kingdom
  • South Africa
  • Germany
  • France
Budget$24 million

Black Beauty is a 2020 adventure drama family film written, edited and directed by Ashley Avis and based on the 1877 novel of the same name by Anna Sewell. A co-production between the United States, the United Kingdom, South Africa, France and Germany, it stars Kate Winslet, Mackenzie Foy, Claire Forlani, Iain Glen and Fern Deacon and is the sixth cinematic adaptation. In the film, Black Beauty is portrayed as a mare instead of a stallion (The horse in the original story was a gelding.) and is brought to Birtwick Park where she forges a bond with a spirited teenager that carries through different chapters, challenges and adventures. Originally scheduled for a theatrical release, it was unable to be released in cinemas due to the negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The film's distribution rights were acquired by Walt Disney Studios and was released on the company's streaming service Disney+ on November 27, 2020. It received mixed reviews from critics.


A wild mustang narrates her life from birth, born free within the Onaqui Mountains of Utah. She explains that her mother taught that when horses pass away, they fly into the sky to rest among the stars. One day, the mustang accidentally draws the attention of some cowboys, who wrangle her entire herd; the mustang never sees her mother again. A horse trainer named John Manly purchases the mustang and takes her to Birtwick, a horse sanctuary. While she likes John, the mustang refuses to cooperate, but John remains patient. The mustang ends up befriending two other horses named Ginger and Merrylegs.

John is informed that his sister and her husband died in a car accident, leaving him to care for his niece, Jo Green. Jo wants nothing to do with John but becomes entranced with the difficult mustang. Eventually, the mustang recognizes Jo's pain as similar to her own, and they end up connecting. Jo learns to tame the mustang and names her Black Beauty, or Beauty for short. John manages to get through to Jo by having her work in the stables and tend to Beauty on a regular basis. They popularize the phrase "partnering" a horse as opposed to "breaking" a horse. John informs Jo that they will eventually have to sell Beauty, but Jo refuses.

One night, a fire breaks out from a stable handler who didn't turn off a heater, and the horses are evacuated. With Birtwick losing money, Jo is concerned that Beauty will be sold, but works out a deal with John's boss, Henry Gordon, so that she can work extra to earn the money to buy Beauty, though he states that they might lease her. The upperclass Winthorp family who are British migrants from England arrive to purchase horses for their estate with the daughter Georgina immediately choosing Beauty to be leased. John manages to convince them to have Jo come along as her tenant. At the Earlshall estate, Beauty learns that her friend Ginger was purchased for the Winthorp's son George, who unlike Georgina, is kind and takes an interest in Jo.

Georgina is cruel and rude to Beauty, who resists the urge to harm her as it would get her and Jo in trouble. Jo discovers that Beauty has serious injuries and George tries to have Jo be closer with her, but his mother puts an end to it. A race is held at a social gathering where Georgina's poor horse riding results in Beauty injuring one of her legs. George stands up to his mother and the Winthorps choose to return Beauty. However, John arrives to inform Jo that Birtwick is closing down and all the horses have to be sold. Beauty is taken away without Jo getting a chance to say goodbye. She becomes determined to find and buy her again.

Beauty is sold to a ranger named Terry and together they go on rescue missions in the wilderness. Eventually Terry decides to retire and Beauty is given to a farmer who uses old tools, forcing her to work harder. Then she is sold to a kind carriage driver in New York City whose daughter chooses to name her Lady. One night, Beauty is reunited with Ginger, who had been sold without George's knowledge, but she dies shortly afterwards. All this time, Beauty continues to think about Jo, who has not given up on finding her.

When Jerry gets sick, Beauty is sold to another carriage company, which treats its horses cruelly and engages in illegal horse trading. While out driving, Beauty spots Ginger's body being taken away. Heart broken, Beauty sits on the road during her carriage rotation, which draws media attention. The company attempts to sell Beauty, but a kind stable boy named Manuel alerts the police of the company's illegal activities. Jo finds Beauty and reunites with her. Jo reveals that she has managed to rebuild Birtwick in full and now works with John and George, now her husband, to help rehabilitate horses; she even finds that Merrylegs was also recovered. Beauty lives with Jo happily ever after for the rest of her days.


Black Beauty is portrayed by four different horses: Spirit, Jenny, Awards and Rosie. The horse that portrays her as a foal is named Black Beauty. Beauty's mother Duchess, is portrayed by a horse named Beauty. Ginger was portrayed by Susie and Orion. Merrylegs was portrayed by Lulu Belle and Victoria.


It was announced in May 2019 that a new movie adaptation of Anna Sewell's 1877 novel Black Beauty was in development with Ashley Avis writing, editing and directing the film. Mackenzie Foy and Kate Winslet were set to star in the film.[1] Filming began in South Africa in October 2019 with Claire Forlani and Iain Glen joining the cast.[2]


In July 2020, Walt Disney Pictures acquired distribution rights to the film from Constantin Film.[3] Black Beauty was released digitally on Disney+ on November 27, 2020.[4]


On review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 48% based on 46 reviews, with a mixed-to-positive rating of 5.3/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Unable to rein in the complexities of its source material, Black Beauty struggles to gallop out of the paddock."[5] On Metacritic, it has a weighted average score of 52 out of 100, based on 12 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[6]

Fionnuala Halligan of Screen Daily found the movie to be a solid reinterpretation of Anna Sewell's novel, complimented the performances of the actors, and praised the chemistry between Kate Winslet and Mackenzie Foy's characters, saying, "Like Anna Sewell’s original novel, this film’s heart is very much in the right place."[7] Amy Amatangelo of Paste rated the film 7.8 out of 10, saying, "The movie looks stunning with sweeping landscapes and gorgeous shots of Beauty in action, as South Africa makes a lovely stand-in for both the American West and New York. An inspiring movie for young, old and everyone in between, I would be shocked if the movie’s final moments didn’t lead to a cathartic cry for every viewer. The beauty of this story is timeless."[8] Jennifer Green of Common Sense Media rated the movie 3 out of 5 stars, praised the depiction of positive messages and role models, writing, "Black Beauty is emotionally taxing, with the central horse suffering abuse, loss, and danger. - That said, the film, told mostly from the horse's perspective, ultimately shows a clear respect and admiration for the animals, and it conveys positive messages of loyalty, family, perseverance, resilience."[9]

Kayti Burt of Den of Geek rated the movie 2.5 out of 5 stars, praised Ashley Avis' direction, writing, "Ashley Avis hits all the plot points and throws in some fantastically pretty shots in the process, yet there is a lack of texture (both visually and narratively) that keeps this film from graduating from serviceable horse-girl film to something greater both within and outside the limits of Horse Girl Canon" and that the movie "lacks the thematic ambition of its source material, but is a serviceable addition to Horse Girl Canon."[10] Sara Stewart of the New York Post rated the film 2.5 out of 5 stars, writing, "One of the purposes of the book was to shine a line on animal cruelty, which is admirable — but Black Beauty veers so often into the dark and the sad I question how much appeal it'll really have for the younger set. Still, if your tear ducts need cleaning, this is one holiday film that’ll get the job done."[11] Monica Castillo of rated the movie 2 out of 4 stars, claiming, "Avis’ film clearly adores its four-legged subjects. Through David Procter's cinematography, she recreates the look and feel of one of Disney's nature documentaries for the first moments of Black Beauty's life. It's a golden-hour, idealized look at a herd of horses galloping through fields and in the shadows of mountains. [...] It's a narrative choice that may work better for some than others, and it probably won't ride well with devotees of the book."[12]


  1. ^ Mackenzie Foy, Kate Winslet to Star in 'Black Beauty' Reboot
  2. ^ "'Black Beauty': Claire Forlani & Iain Glen Join Mackenzie Foy & Kate Winslet In Constantin Classic Redo, Shoot Underway". October 17, 2019. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020. Retrieved October 17, 2019.
  3. ^ "Disney+ Picks Up 'Black Beauty' From Constantin Film (Exclusive)". July 29, 2020. Archived from the original on July 30, 2020. Retrieved July 29, 2020.
  4. ^ "'Black Beauty' First Look Photos and Disney+ Release Date Revealed". Entertainment Tonight. Archived from the original on October 17, 2020. Retrieved 2020-10-16.
  5. ^ "Black Beauty (2020)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  6. ^ "Black Beauty Reviews". Metacritic. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020. Retrieved December 22, 2020.
  7. ^ Halligan2020-11-23T17:00:00+00:00, Fionnuala. "'Black Beauty': Review (Disney+)". Screen. Retrieved 2022-06-24.
  8. ^ "Disney+'s Black Beauty Remake Is Worthy of Its Title". 2020-11-23. Retrieved 2022-04-13.
  9. ^ "Black Beauty (2020) - Movie Review". 2020-11-22. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  10. ^ "Black Beauty Review: Disney+ Movie Leans Into the Horse Girl Tropes". Den of Geek. 2020-11-27. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  11. ^ Stewart, Sara (2020-11-23). "'Black Beauty' review: Disney's remake is a heavy-handed tear-jerker". New York Post. Archived from the original on December 25, 2020. Retrieved 2020-12-01.
  12. ^ Castillo, Monica. "Black Beauty movie review & film summary (2020) | Roger Ebert". Retrieved 2022-04-13.

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This page was last edited on 26 January 2023, at 05:07
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