Movie Review – ‘Black Beauty’ (2020)

Hello everyone! 🙂

Welcome to ‘Bradley’s Basement’ blog and I’m Tim Bradley!

My parents and I saw the 2020 film ‘Black Beauty’ on Disney+ last Friday. I greatly enjoyed it! I found how this turned out to be a satisfying modern take on the 1877 novel of the same name by Anna Sewell. It kept to what I knew of ‘Black Beauty’ as a story whilst doing something very unique with it.

I’ve not read the original book by Anna Sewell, but I’ve seen another film adaptation of ‘Black Beauty’ made in 1994 where it featured Alan Cumming as the voice of Black Beauty as well as Andrew Knott, Sean Bean, Jim Carter and Peter Davison. I must get around to revisiting the 1994 film.

The point I’m trying to make here is that in both book and 1994 film adaptation, the horse Black Beauty was male and he befriended a young man called Joe. In the 2020 film, the horse Black Beauty is now female and she befriends a young girl called Jo. Interesting gender reversal in a film adaptation!

The surprising thing is; the gender reversal does work in this film. As it’s a modern retelling of the tale and the drama is kept to be believable and in a heartfelt manner, you can take in the emotional level going on between Black Beauty and Jo when they befriend each other after feeling a lot of pain.

The story has a young wild mustang mare brought to Birtwick Park after being separated from her family. She forges a bond with spirited teenager Jo Green, which carries through different chapters, challenges and adventures. Can Black Beauty and Jo remain friends whilst separated for some time?

As I understand, this film was meant to be released at cinemas before the Covid-19 pandemic put a stop to it – please keep safe. Thankfully Disney+ was on the case for the film to be released on the streaming service. Lately, I find seeing stuff on Disney+ is the best way to keep yourself entertained.

Kate Winslet is the voice of Black Beauty in this film. Many of you will know Kate Winslet for being 1995’s ‘Sense & Sensibility’ as well as the well-known ‘Titantic’ film. 😀 I enjoyed how Kate Winslet voices Black Beauty in being the film’s narrator, which was what Alan Cumming did in the 1994 film.

Mackenzie Foy stars as Jo Green, the film’s young heroine. You might know Mackenzie Foy for being in ‘The Nutcracker and the Four Realms’ 2018 film. I like how Jo develops as a character in the film and how she managed to overcome her pain in losing her parents by befriending Black Beauty here.

Iain Glen stars as John Manly, Jo’s uncle in the film. It was a nice surprise to see Iain Glen in the film after seeing him in 1999’s ‘Wives & Daughters’ and the ‘Doctor Who’ story ‘The Time of Angels’/’Flesh and Stone’. It was very intriguing to see him play this man that gently handled horses.

Calam Lynch stars as George Winthorp, who ends up becoming Jo’s love interest in the film. I like how their romance was formed as George supported Jo in looking after Beauty, whilst his mother Claire Florani as Mrs. Winthorp was cruel and his sister Fern Deacon as Georgina mistreated Beauty. Mind you, calling your two children George and Georgina, Mrs. Winthorp! Not very original, is it? 😀

There’s also Hakeem Kae-Kazim as Terry, Max Raphael as James, Matt Rippy as Henry Gordon, David Sherwood as Mr. York, Bjorn Steinbach as Mario, Patrick Lyster as Mr. Winthorp, Craig Hawks as Walker, Katja Hopkins as Jill, Gregg Parvess as Jerry, Sascha Nastasi as Jennifer, Alex Jeaven as Jasmine and Nahum Hugh as Manuel. The cast are amazing in this modern retelling of ‘Black Beauty’.

I’m surprised Sarah Sutton (Nyssa of ‘Doctor Who’) didn’t make an appearance as Diana from ‘The Moon Stallion’. 😀 This would be Sarah’s kind of film. There’s even a white horse in the film. 😀 Overall, 2020’s ‘Black Beauty’ was worth watching on Disney+ and is a satisfying retelling of the tale.

Thanks for reading!

Bye for now!

Tim. 🙂

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