Wednesday, July 1, 2009

National Velvet + Polo Match = Kids Off The Couch

National Velvet
wears a triple crown in our book - it stars a stunning young Elizabeth Taylor as a 12 year-old who wins England's Grand National Steeplechase, tells the stirring story of how she discovers and trains an "unbreakable horse" and races it disguised as a male jockey, and finally, contains one of the most exciting race sequences ever filmed. Velvet's mother encourages her daughter's dream because as a young woman she won a prize for swimming the English Channel. Although our kids resisted watching a film from 1944, they were moved by the deeply etched relationships between mother and child, Velvet and her trainer Mi (played by Mickey Rooney) and were especially enamored of the scenes between Velvet and "The Pie". Hooves are thundering around polo fields this summer, so we spent a Sunday afternoon watching this arcane sport, in awe of how the players swing their mallets at golf-ball sized balls while galloping across lush green fields. Don't think polo is just a love-poem to a day gone by - it's populated with as many female jockeys as male. Perhaps the girls riding polo ponies today watched Velvet's thrilling ride when they were young. Perhaps the young boys did as well, and the thundering hooves are a paean to this classic and beloved story.

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