Black Beauty (2020)

Disney + brought back one of the classic animal tales for a live action movie on their streaming service. Black Beauty was a novel from Anna Sewell in 1877. It became arguably the most well-known and beloved horse story ever. It had been adapted into several formats over the years prior to the arrival of this new film. Directed and adapted by Ashley Avis, this feels like the perfect kind of IP for Disney +.

Unfortunately, I found this version of Black Beauty to be overtly melodramatic and silly.

The wild stallion was caught and brought to John Manly’s (Iain Glen) Birtwick Stables. The horse seemed to be unbreakable. When John’s niece Jo (Mackenzie Foy) comes to stay with him after her parents died, she created a bond with the horse and named her Beauty.

The film started off immediately causing me to check out when I realized that there was a voice over by Kate Winslet and she was supposed to be the thoughts of the horse. I felt like I was in a Disneynature movie. The voice spoke like a human and told the story. What Beauty knew was never really explained nor did it matter that a horse would not know the vocabulary required. This did not start the film off well for me.

Then there was so much melodrama involved in the movie that I could barely stand it. Just about every type of plot contrivance that could appear, does. There is the fire, the mean girls, the money problems, the injured horse, the horse out saving people’s lives etc. There was just too many of these masquerading as plot. It was also quite manipulative film as there was no doubt that they were trying to play on the audience’s emotions. It all felt pretty fake to me.

While I found Mackenzie Foy a lovely presence on film, her character was not developed to the point it could have been. The early part of the movie tried to give Jo some character traits, but it was all surface area. She just became the kind hearted girl who bonded with the horse.

The film looked good and was shot well. I think it was too long and needed more of a edit.

This again may be a decent family film to entertain the children, but I did not enjoy it much.

2.35 stars

3 thoughts on “Black Beauty (2020)

  1. I have seen nearly every version of BB movies there are. Some of them are quite awful.

    This Disney+ version tried hard to do a bit of a gender twist and tell the story in modern times. Black Beauty in this story was a wild mustang mare, and Jo Greene this time being a young girl instead of a little boy.

    Black Beauty is such a sad tale of what horses go through sometimes, and even though this was modernized to 2020 instead 1880, life has not changed much for horses.

    Unfortunately this particular retelling was so silly, unrealistic, and poorly done,that I had to watch the movie in 3 segments because I could not take sitting through it all at once!!!

    Sooooo many horse-inaccuracies and if you’re making a horse movie, things should be represented more accurately. Don’t even get me started on War Horse.

    Now, the absolute best version of Black Beauty is the 1994 version. Hands down the best horse movie ever made, and realistic and horse-accurate depictions.


    • This Black Beauty lost me almost immediately with the voice over. I might have to add Black Beauty 1994 to the DailyWatch this summer.

      Thanks for the comments!


  2. The 1994 movie is a voice over style too.
    The original book by Anna Sewell is told from Beauty’s perspective.
    She wrote the book as a way to draw sympathy from readers to help them understand the daily abuses they put horses through. The story was written to help fight horse abuse in the 1800’s.

    Anna was bed ridden due to disease and travelled mainly by carriage. She saw sad abuses happen and tried to create a story from the horse’s perspective on what horses go through.

    The story can’t be told properly without hearing from the horse.

    The 1994 version is absolutely incredible.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s