While fussing one of the horses at the stables yesterday, I got to thinking about horse films that I’ve watched over the years.
So, in no particular order, here are my favourites. But first, the reason why ‘My Friend Flicka’ isn’t on this list – I love the book more than any film that’s been made of it.
I also love the book of ‘Black Beauty’ but I enjoyed the films too. I’ve seen the 1971 version, starring Mark Lester, and also the 1994 film. That one received mixed reviews and didn’t do well, but I like it.
‘National Velvet’ (1944) was one I watched over and over again when it was released on VHS (Yeek!). 12 years old and in her first starring role, Elizabeth Taylor was wonderful as Velvet Brown. I imagined I was her, riding The Pie.
I must confess I don’t remember much about the plot of ‘The Man from Snowy River’ (1982).
I know it’s set in Australia, it’s about a young man whose father is killed when they chase a herd of wild horses, called Brumbies (Australian term for wild horses). The ‘man’ goes to work for a rich guy, falls in love with his daughter, there’s something about her father refusing to acknowledge his own twin brother … The only thing I truly remember about the film and the reason it features on my list is one scene and one scene only – when the brumbies are being chased, the others give up but the ‘man’ keeps going … Still leaves me breathless:
‘War Horse' is a definite favourite – each time I watch it, and I have watched it quite a few times now (lost count!), it still thrills me. As I’ve already done a post about it, I won’t say much more.
And then there’s ‘Seabiscuit’.
When I saw the film, I didn’t know about the horse or the legendary race between him and War Admiral. Sometime afterwards, I did read the book by Laura Hillenbrand; the film was loosely based on her book, ‘Seabiscuit: An American Legend’. Both, film and book, I found fascinating; each version complemented the other, in my opinion. The way the races were shot gives a real sense of what it’s like, being a jockey on a horse that’s flying along - I found it unnerving, the way the horses bunch up so close together. It’s a wonder they don’t get tangled up! The clip I've included is not the end scene but of the first race Seabiscuit won.
For interest’s sake, here is the original 1938 footage of the race between Seabiscuit and War Admiral; the film version was astounding:
As I’ll probably blather on about the last 2 films on my list, I’ll save them fo next week.