Black Beauty is a 2020 drama film written and directed by Ashley Avis, based on the 1877 novel of the same name by Anna Sewell. A co-production between the United States, United Kingdom, South Africa and Germany, it stars Mackenzie Foy, Kate Winslet, Claire Forlani, Iain Glen and Fern Deacon. In the film a young mare 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 theaters due to the negative effects of COVID-19 pandemic. The film was eventually bought by Walt Disney Studios and was released on the company’s streaming service Disney+ on November 27, 2020.
A wild mustang narrates her life from birth born free within the Onaqui Mountains of Utah. She explains that her mother Duchess taught her about everything, even what happens to horses when they expire; they fly into the sky and rest among the stars. One day, the mustang accidentally alerts some cowboys who proceed to wrangle her entire herd, resulting in the mustang never seeing her mother again. A horse trainer named John Manly arrives and purchases the mustang and takes her to Birtwick, a horse sanctuary. While she likes John due to his toughened and experienced spirit, the mustang continues to toy with him and refuses to cooperate with him, who nevertheless remains patient. The mustang ends up befriending two other horses named Ginger and Merrylegs.
John is informed that his sister and her husband have died in a car accident; leaving him to take in his niece, Jo Green. Jo wants nothing to do with John, especially since he rarely visited them, but becomes entranced with the mustang who continues to act difficult. However, the mustang recognizes Jo’s pain as similar to her own and ends up connecting with her. 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 due to a distracted stable handler leaving a heater on and the horses have to be evacuated. With Birtwick losing money, Jo is concerned over Beauty having to 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 upper class Winthorp family 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 to her. She becomes determined to find and buy her again.
Beauty is sold to a ranger named Terry and together go on daring rescue missions in the wilderness including rescuing a man from a raging river. Terry decides to retire and Beauty is given to a farmer who uses old tools, forcing her to work harder. She is soon given to a kind carriage driver in New York City named Jerry whose daughter chooses to name her Lady. On a particularly cold and snowy night, Beauty is reunited with Ginger who was sold without George’s knowledge. She sadly tells her that she and Merrylegs were her only friends. She dies shortly afterwards. All this time, Beauty continues to think about Jo, who has not given up on finding her.
When Jerry becomes sick, Beauty is sold to another carriage company who are cruel and illegally sell the horses. While out driving, Beauty spots Ginger’s body being taken away. Heart broken, Beauty sits on the road during her carriage rotation, which gains attention in the media. The company attempt to sell Beauty, but a kind stable boy named Manuel alerts the police of the activities and 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, whom she has now married, to help rehabilitate horses full time; discovering that Merrylegs was also recovered. Beauty happily continues to live with Jo for the rest of her life, adding that when she expired, she truly felt like she was flying.
Kate Winslet as Black Beauty (voice)
Mackenzie Foy as Jo Green
Faith Bodington as Jo Green (age 12)
Iain Glen as John Manly
Calam Lynch as George Winthorp
Claire Forlani as Mrs. Winthorp
Fern Deacon as Georgina Winthorp
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
Greg Parvess as Jerry
Sascha Nastasi as Jennifer
Alex Jeaven as Jasmine
Nahum Hughes as Manue
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