White Mane

White Mane
White Mane

Promotional poster
Directed by Albert Lamorisse
Produced by Albert Lamorisse
Written by Screenplay:
Albert Lamorisse
James Agee
Albert Lamorisse
Saul J. Turell
Denys Colomb de Daunant
Narrated by Frank Silvera
Les Marshak
Starring Alain Emery
Music by Maurice Leroux
Cinematography Edmond Séchan
Editing by Georges Alépée
Distributed by Films Montsouris
Janus Films
Release date(s) March 1953
Running time 47 minutes (France)
31 minutes (USA)
Country France
Language French

White Mane (French: Crin-Blanc and Crin Blanc, Cheval Sauvage) is a 1953 short film directed by award-winning French filmmaker Albert Lamorisse.[1]

The forty-seven minute short, filmed on location in the marshes of Camargue, France, won numerous awards on its release, including the Short Film Palme d'Or Grand Prize at the Cannes Film Festival. The film also became popular with children and was marketed for them. The story tells a fable of how a young boy gentles an untamable wild white stallion named White Mane.



In the marshes of Camargue, France, a herd of wild horses roam free. Their leader is a handsome white-haired stallion named White Mane (Crin Blanc in French).

A group of ranchers capture the wild stallion and place him in a corral. Yet White Mane escapes. A boy named Folco (Alain Emery), who lives with his fisherman grandfather, watches intently as White Mane escapes, and he dreams of one day handling White Mane. The ranchers once again try to capture White Mane and fail. Folco asks the men if he can have the white horse. Yes, says one of the men, "but first you have to catch him, but your fish will grow wings before you can manage that."

Later Folco comes across White Mane in the marshes, and he tries to rope him. However, White Mane gallops and drags Folco in the water for quite a while. Folco refuses to let go of the rope and almost passes out. White Mane relents and the two become friends.

White Mane returns to his herd and another horse challenges him for dominance. White Mane loses the fight and returns to join the boy.

The ranchers return and try to spook White Mane by setting fire to the area he and his herd live in. Folco jumps on White Mane (for the first time) and rides him bareback across the marshes of Camargue, over the sparse dunes to the sea. The ranchers give chase and surround them, but they refuse to be caught. With Folco on his back, White Mane rides into the sea. The film ends as the narrator states that White Mane took Folco to an island where horses and children can be friends forever.


  • Alain Emery as Folco, the boy
  • Pierre Bestieux
  • Denys Colomb Daunant
  • Alain Colomb Daunant
  • Charles Fouhetty
  • Jean-Pierre Grenie as Narrator (French language)
  • Charles Guillaume
  • Pascal Lamorisse
  • Pierre Moureaux-Nery
  • Francois Perie
  • Laurent Roche
  • Frank Silvera as Narrator (English language)
  • Les Marshak as Narrator (English language)


The horse

The story is based on real horses that are found in the Camargue region in southeast France. For centuries, possibly thousands of years, these small horses have lived wild in the harsh environment of the wetlands of the Rhône delta, the Camargue marshes, developing the stamina, hardiness and agility for which they are known today. They are the traditional mount of the gardians – Camargue "cowboys."

Camargue horses galloping through water, as does Crin Blanc in the film, are a popular and romantic image of the region.

Filming locations

The film was shot entirely on location in the southeast region of France; specifically the Petite Camargue (little Camargue), Bouches-du-Rhône, France, a marsh area located south of Arles, between the Mediterranean Sea and the two branches of the Rhône river delta.

Critical reception

The film, since its first release in 1953, has generally received favorable reviews from critics.

When the picture was re-released in late 2007 by Janus Films, the film critic for The New York Times, Terrence Rafferty, discussed the film and its importance, writing "[it] is among the world’s most famous and most honored films for children... But kids’ stuff [it is] not... The tone of [the] film is that of open mouthed wonder." In White Mane, Rafferty wrote, "you sense, as in few other films, the real terrors of nature... And Lamorisse, [the] movie show, really was a remarkable artist: one of the cinema’s best poets and a fearless explorer of the scary and exhilarating outbacks of the imagination."[2]

In a review in The Washington Post, critic Philip Kennicott was cynical about it, yet liked the mise en scène, writing "there are perfectly worthy reasons to keep [the film] in circulation. Visually, [it is] masterful." However, Kennicott argues that the film takes place in a world of lies. He wrote, "A boy and his horse are hunted down by adult ranchers – while a narrator makes vague promises of a better world to come. The beautiful imagery of [the film] is deployed in support of a moral system – a blunt promise of rewards for good behavior – not much more sophisticated than that of Santa and the Easter Bunny. Ah, the time-honored tradition of adults indoctrinating kids in a world-view that will lead only to bitter disappointment, unless the kids refuse to grow up."[3]


A four minute clip of the film is on the rotating list of programming on Classic Arts Showcase, and is often aired on the free cable television channel that promotes the fine arts to the largest audience possible.

In late 2007, the film, along with director Albert Lamorisse's later classic short The Red Balloon (1956), was restored and re-released by Janus Films in limited markets. The film was remastered by Janus Films in 35mm format for the release.[4]

Video and DVD

A version of the film was released in the United States on June 30, 1993 by Columbia TriStar Home Video. The marketing strategy of the release targeted children and labeled the box "Children's Treasures Present."

Homevision released the film in video, combined with Albert Lamorisse's most well known fantasy-short The Red Balloon on June 13, 2000.

A laserdisc of the film was released by The Criterion Collection in 1986, and was produced by Criterion, Janus Films, and Voyager Press. Included in the disc was Lamorisse's award-winning fantasy-short The Red Balloon (1956).

The Criterion Collection released a DVD of the film in 2008.[5]




  1. ^ White Mane at the Internet Movie Database.
  2. ^ Refferty, Terrence. The New York Times, "Two Short Fables That Revel in Freedom," film review, November 11, 2007. Last accessed: December 1, 2007.
  3. ^ Hunnicott, Philip. The Washington Post, "Red Balloon and White Mane: Childhood Colored by Adult Cynicism," film review, November 23, 2007; Page C01. Last accessed: December 1, 2007.
  4. ^ White Mane at Janus Films; web site includes trailer of film for viewing. Last accessed: December 3, 2007.
  5. ^ White Mane – Criterion Collection DVD

External links

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