Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Film Review - International Velvet

How interesting that Elizabeth Taylor passes away on the day I meant to post my review of this film. Though Liz passed up the opportunity to reprise her role for the sequel, she was quite famous among us horse crazy girls due to her role as Velvet Brown in National Velvet.

I recently acquired access to Netflix and I have been very excited about the volume of instant play movies. Yes, I'm still leaving the house daily, but I did have a root canal yesterday and have had an annoying sore throat since Friday so I've been allowing myself a little couch time.

I noticed the 1978 film of "International Velvet" and thought, oh, why not. I had no idea it would be such a good film. I expected one of those predictable sequels that follows the same formula as the original, usually lacks stars, and is generally melodramatic and sappy. I thought I would watch it purely for the unrealistic but heart squeezing moments that all horse/girl films manage to possess and this girl has enough horse in her to still enjoy. Though it did deliver on the sappy part and yes, I found myself crying more than once, I was impressed. Now it did follow the same "troubled girl is saved by horses - well, "A" horse which she then trains and then wins huge competition" formula but the depth of characters, the subplots, and the human emotion really thickened the deal. The Characters were all much more layered and unpredictable than I expected. They all seemed much more real than your average sequal. And how can you go wrong with Anthony Hopkins playing the tough but honest riding coach?

As a special bonus there are lots of scenes of Eventing just for the sake of showing the sport. Not sure how they were all filmed, and one "fall" was clearly planned, but many were just real eventers taking real obstacles. The film pretends to be the Olympic games so it shows some rivalry of the US and British teams. The commentary during the competitions was very interesting since it was filmed over 30 years ago and many things, including the Olympics have changed. There is one line where Hopkins says "They don't allow cowboys in the Olympics, you know" but now the DO!

I was also intrigued by the lat 70's equestrian fashion. One or two of my readers may well remember sporting the styles immortalized in this film. Seeing this movie version of how they transported horses in an airplane was also rather fascinating. I don't believe they do it like that anymore...

In conclusion, I highly recommend the film. And if not for the complex characters and fine acting, then watch it just to see the scene where the girl and the horse run towards each other in the field in mutual joy and anticipation of their future life together. If that doesn't make you fuzzy inside then you must be a heartless neanderthal.


  1. Funny, I have this in my instant queue on Netflix as well, but have been waiting for the right time to watch. Boyfriend doesnt have much interest in the sappy horse girl movies, so Ive been waiting for a time to watch when hes not home. LOL

  2. I loved this movie. I watched it couple years ago with my friend and then just recently re-watched it. I was surprised that I liked it, actually. National Velvet was always one of my favorites but somehow I was expecting this to be a cheap, inaccurate sequel. Thankfully I was wrong. The only thing I didn't like about it was the main character. She was quite a self-absorbed brat in a good potion of the movie!

    Glad you enjoyed it.

  3. I love both the movie and Netflix. We use the instant play option all of the time are rarely ever turn our TV on anymore, especially when we are on a painting binge. It helps us to concentrate if we have background noise. Although we have found quite a few really bad horse movies. We now watch the bad with a big bowl of popcorn and the idea that we are going to rip the movie apart and make fun of it. I have found a couple of good ones we did not tear apart and choke laughing at but for the most part it is a fun way to watch some really really corny bad horse movies. Why is it that writers think they can write about horses with no knowledge what-so-ever about them?

  4. Oh, my, I am chuckling. I had a FIT when I saw that movie as a kid, because Tatum O'Neal Could. Not. Ride! Seriously! I was furious when they purported to show her jumping 4' and X-Country and I could tell it was a stand-in, because whenever Tatum was actually in the irons the jumps were more like 1'. It just burned me up. I'm sure I was NO fun to be with at that cinema... ;-)

    Mare, good old Tatum was just playing herself then. :-)

    Now, here's my mini-list of truly crap horse films:
    "Young Black Stallion"
    My daughter and I can still crack each other up by yelling, "RUN, Shataan, RUN!" It was soooo bad...)
    (Tim McGraw in a rug, girl with hair so unruly even the husband asked if she ever brushed it, so she'd look like "untamed" Flicka. Gruesome.)
    "Some Thing Where A Girl Rode A Zebra"
    (It was called "Racing Stripes." 'Nuff said)

    Those are the three that come to mind but I know there have been more! To this day my family avoids watching horse movies with me, although they did see "Secretariat" because I said I would stay quiet. :-)

  5. I loved that movie as a young girl...must watch it again! :)