Marooned with an Arabian stallion after a shipwreck, a young boy named Alec (Reno) develops a close bond with the strong-willed horse. Back home with his mother (Garr) after a rescue party locates the survivors, Alec finds encouragement from elderly trainer Henry Dailey (Rooney), who believes the stallion has the makings of a champion, as long as Alec can assume the role of jockey.
This fascinating adaptation of Walter Farley's children's classic depicts with uncommon intelligence and sensitivity the special bond that can develop between humans and animals. Avoiding children's-movie clichés, Ballard directs his two-legged stars, especially Reno and the affable Rooney, with superb understatement instead of maudlin excess. Caleb Deschanel's exceptional photography — especially in the opening half-hour, filmed partly underwater and without dialogue — is every bit a star as the stallion. One of the finest family films you'll see in any season.