‘Black Beauty’ is a drama that reimagines Anna Sewell’s classic book of the same name. The film is set in the present day, where a wild mare is rounded up in the American West and brought to the Birtwick Stables in New York. At the same time, Jo Green (Mackenzie Foy), a spirited teenage girl, moves to the ranch to live with her uncle after losing her parents.
Jo and the mare, who she names Beauty (Kate Winslet‘s voice), forge a friendship for a lifetime. The film follows a horse’s journey through its life in the wilderness, a ranch, and ultimately on the race tracks, which piqued our curiosity about the locations where ‘Black Beauty’ was filmed. Here is what we know!
Black Beauty Filming Locations
‘Black Beauty’ was filmed mostly filmed in South Africa with a few scenes in parts of the U.S.A. The film shows some of the most breathtaking scenes filmed across various landscapes, including the beach, wild open fields, and rocky hills. Let us take you through some of the filming locations.
Most of the film was shot in and around Cape Town, including scenes at Val de Vie Estate and Lourensford Estate. The mountainous terrain in the movie was actually filmed in Piketberg, which is a range of low mountains in West Cape, nearly 2 hours drive from Cape Town. Scenes were also filmed at Stellenbosch, a town in West Cape, known for its vineyards and the mountainous nature reserves. A few sequences in the movie are set in New York, including a scene in Central Park, but surprisingly most of it was filmed in South Africa itself.
Horse trainer Cody Rawson-Harris was brought in to train the horses who play Beauty. He started working two weeks in advance to train them, most of whom had never been on a film set. Jenny, Rosie, Spirit, and Awards, are all former thoroughbred racehorses who play Beauty. Indiana, the veteran movie horse, also portrays the titular character, despite the physical differences. However, it was Jenny who closely interacted with Mackenzie Foy since their scenes together required the horse to be calm and gentle.
Spirit portrays the wild Beauty in the film, who acted by following the body cues from the trainer. The actors Iain Glen (who plays John Manly, Jo’s uncle) and Mackenzie Foy have experience working with horses, making the whole process much smoother. However, it was essential to ensure the safety of the horses as well as the cast members. Therefore, an animal-welfare instructor from Animal Issues Matter and a veterinarian were present on the set at all times.
The United States
Director Ashley Avis visited the Return to Freedom wild horse sanctuary in San Luis Obispo to film a few sequences. She actually followed the wild horses who had assembled on top of a mountain, while an overhead shot was filmed using a drone. Avis described the experience as “special” as she was in awe of the grace and power of the horses.
Avis had earlier shot footage in Utah, where she filmed the Onaqui herd. She used this to merge with the scenes they filmed of a young and wild Beauty in South Africa, to make it look like the horses were one family. Avis couldn’t believe her luck since even the shade of the grass in the two places were “identical.” A very small part of ‘Black Beauty’ was shot in New York.
Read More: Is Black Beauty a True Story?