Wednesday, February 22, 2017

The Black Stallion: what really happened





(From IMDB) The Black Stallion: trivia

The Black was portrayed by a champion Arabian stallion from Texas named Cass Ole; his friend, the old white horse named Napoleon, was portrayed by Junior - who had previously appeared in National Lampoon's Animal House (1978) as Trooper, Neidermeyer's horse.

The scene with the cobra took two days to film, because the cobra refused to spread its hood for the longest time. During filming, Kelly Reno was separated from the snake by a pane of glass.

Once completed, the film was shelved for two years by United Artists. Carroll Ballard recalled the studio "suits" complaining, "What is this, some kind of an art film for kids?" It took the full clout of Francis Ford Coppola to see that the film finally reached theatres.



Cass Ole, like most horses, had his mane trimmed into what's called a bridle path. This makes it easier to fit a bridle. For the movie, Cass Ole had to wear "hair extensions" to make his mane look like a wild horse's mane. He also had white markings on his legs and forehead and the white needed to be covered with a black hair dye to transform Cass Ole into the Black Stallion.

There was outrage in some quarters when Caleb Deschanel's ravishing cinematography failed to even be nominated for an Academy Award. Deschanel, then 34, commented, "I'm disappointed. The fact that so many people told me I was sure to get the nomination has made it harder to take. On the other hand, who am I? I'm just a young punk making his name in this business..."





Cass Ole learned to express anger by putting his ears back, rearing on his hind legs and stomping the ground - and could also turn soft and loving on cue, nodding his head and giving pretend kisses to Kelly Reno. Even his facial expressions changed. "It was amazing," said Corky Randall. "I never met a horse before who wanted to be an actor." Only once did the stallion lose patience - during the bareback ride on the beach when Alec holds up his hands in triumph. Cass Ole suddenly bolted, giving Reno a much wilder ride than he expected. The crew was terrified for the boy, but he was a capable rider who lowered his hands to grab the horse's mane and hang on for dear life.

Author Walter Farley had reservations about his signature story being filmed and feared that the novel might not translate successfully to a new medium. Happily, the movie exceeded his expectations in remaining true to the original and finding its own artistic identity. "They did a beautiful job," he conceded.




Among the innovations of sound editor Alan Splet, who won a special Oscar® for his work, was attaching microphones to the underside of the horse during the racing scenes to catch his actual hoof-beats and breathing.

A sequence that made everyone especially apprehensive in its filming was the one where the Black stomps and kills a cobra that is threatening Alec. A group of snakes was flown in from Milan with a handler, Carlo Guidi, who assured the filmmakers that his cobras had been milked of their deadly venom. Just in case, a special serum was kept on hand but, thankfully, did not have to be administered.






None of the equine doubles liked being in the water, so horses were brought in from the lagoons of Camargue in France for the underwater shots of the Black swimming in the sea. Cinematographer Caleb Deschanel recalled in an interview that the swimming horses "had pot bellies and incredibly ugly faces." But when they "came into the water and started swimming, they looked unbelievably graceful. They were the ugliest animals you've ever seen, but underwater...they were like Nijinsky." The crew nicknamed these horses Pete and Repete because of the numerous takes required to get the appropriate underwater footage.

The island of Sardinia was used for the island scenes with Toronto used for the eastern seaboard scenes.





Filming began in Toronto on July 4, 1977. The summer of 1977 in Canada was one of the wettest and hottest on record, and delays were caused by the torrents of rain that flooded the Woodbine Racetrack, creating a two-foot-deep layer of mud. At the end of August the film crew headed for the sunny Mediterranean, where they faced a new set of problems.

The first location in Sardinia was near the town of Marina di Arbus, where the horses were transported by a van containing portable stalls that were set up near the filming site, and the crew had to hand-carry the cameras and other equipment over the sand dunes. That situation was repeated at various other locations all over Sardinia, with exposure to sun, sand, sea and dysentery causing considerable discomfort for the crew. Other locations there included Capo Caccia, Capo Camino, Costa Paradiso, Cala Ganone and San Teodoro, which sported a mile-long stretch of fine white sand that was perfect for the boy's first ride on the stallion. Temperatures in Sardinia could become quite cold, and Reno shivered through scenes where he wore little clothing and was often in the water.







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