Watch It

On DVD: Now | On Blu-ray: TBD

National Velvet Review

For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 7+

Great family movie; even better for horse lovers.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that National Velvet, an appealing family film released in 1944 and set in 1920s England, presents two strong female role models, both of whom succeed in fields of sport that had not been previously open to their gender: long-distance swimming and British horse-jumping. It's a movie with strong messages about dreams, risk, determination, and honesty. The only mildly frightening moments come when the preteen heroine faints, when she falls from her horse, and when the horse is ill for a time. In one lengthy sequence set during the Grand National race, a number of horses and their riders fall (in wide shots), but almost all quickly get up; no injuries are seen or referenced. A young man confesses his responsibility for a riding accident years earlier in which someone was killed. The same young man is seen drinking beer with two cronies, and he gets very drunk.

  • Families can talk about why Velvet can't keep the prize, even though she won. What kinds of stereotypes about women were popular in the film's era? What kinds of stereotypes about women remain?
  • Why didn't Velvet want to make movies or do any of the other things people asked her to do after she won? What are the benefits and drawbacks of being a celebrity?

The good stuff
  • educationalvalue true2

    Educational value: Presents an idyllic view of country life in early 20th century England, and shows how different the rules were for women and girls in that era. Competitive horse-jumping is introduced.

  • message true5

    Messages: Filled with simple positive messages, expressed in words and demonstrated by actions, including: dream big; take risks and enjoy the moment, but know when it's over and move on; "everyone should have a chance at a breathtaking piece of folly at least once in life." The importance of trust and honesty is stressed.

  • rolemodels true5

    Role models: Despite some differences of opinion between them, both parents are ideals of supportiveness, reliability, and encouragement.  Velvet's mother is a prime example of early female accomplishment and recognition. Velvet follows in her mother's footsteps. A line early in the film, "You girls have only your faces for your fortune," is dispelled by the end. A young man, bent on dishonest behavior, learns a valuable lesson about trust and doing the right thing.

What to watch for
  • violence false1

    Violence and scariness: Some horses and their riders fall. None is shown to be injured or in real trouble. The young heroine is prone to fainting. She falls from and is thrown from her horse, but never hurt. She’s also frightened when the horse is ill.  

  • sex false0

    Sexy stuff: Not an issue

  • language false0

    Language: Not an issue

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false2

    Drinking, drugs and smoking:  The young man at the center of the story drinks beer in a pub. He gets very drunk, slurs his words, and staggers. Several men smoke pipes.