War Horse isn’t your typical war movie. The action doesn’t focus on the brutality and bloodiness of the war – although you will see the violence of combat and collateral damage of the war. It is graphic in nature, though not gory. Its not centered on the graphic combat scenes but instead, focuses on the miraculous equine star “Joey” and his impact on all those that come in contact with him. Its pretty incredible to witness the widespread influence this horse has on each individual he comes across. Spielberg’s true talent and form is ever present in the emotions he captures from the animals and the actors as well as the emotions it provokes in the audience.
The beauty of the English countryside alongside the story brought to life with a beautiful score captivated me in a way that no ordinary war could. When the movie began with the rolling hills of the English countryside, I was caught up by the beauty of the landscape, thinking “one day, I hope I can travel to England for a visit”. From the time Ted Narracott purchases Joey, you start to feel as if the Narracotts and Joey are both underdogs.
But as Albert Narracott works and trains Joey to plow the field (which most thought was impossible) you get a glimpse of the heroic horse Joey is destined to be. Jeremy Irvine, the actor, that plays Albert Narracott, reminds me of a younger Matt Damon. I felt his performance was stellar and hopefully we’ll see more of him in future roles. I would be incredibly surprised if he doesn’t receive an Oscar nomination for his role as Albert.
One of my favorite scenes is when Albert confronts his father as his horse is being sold to the British cavalry. The British officer purchasing him as his own, shows his sensitive side as he tells Albert he understands and appreciates the value of the animal and if possible, will return the animal to Albert when the war is over. While we all know war is unpredictable and its unlikely the horse will be returned, its a very touching scene. (view this clip below!)
Knowing the subject matter (a World War I film about a boy and his relationship with a horse), I could never have predicted I’d find myself laughing during this film. But Spielberg does a great job of inserting humor throughout to decrease the intensity of sadness, despair and loss that’s a given with life during wartime. From the goose that tries to steal some of the spotlight early in the film to Joey’s antics when encouraged to “jump” over obstacles, you’ll laugh and forget for a moment you’re watching a war movie with lives being destroyed and people dying.
I laughed and I cried.
Its a film that draws you in and you become emotionally involved. You’re pulling for Albert and Joey when they plow the field. You’re touched by the concern of a brother as his younger brother heads off to battle. You’re amused by the relationship of a farmer and his head strong daughter! And you’re on the edge of your seat as you await the outcome of Albert, as he fights in the War in order to reclaim his horse and to find out whether Joey is strong enough to survive it’s brutalities. By the end, I felt less like I’d watched a movie and more like I had just been on a journey – a distinctly signature trademark of Director Steven Spielberg.
Spielberg did and amazing job of bringing the epic battle to the screen in a very tasteful manner, without feeling like you missed out on anything. This is definitely a movie that you should see in the theater, the cinematography and the score are best when viewed on the big screen with a professional sound system. I actually really loved the score – it was fantastic and just flowed perfectly. (no surprise the score received a Golden Globe nomination!)
Perhaps maybe the best description of the film was given by the author of the book “War Horse” by Michael Morpurgo, from which the movie is based. He describes it as both “beautiful” and “horrifying.” These are both very accurate descriptions of a touching movie that will make you laugh, cry and think about the powerful relationship between humans and animals.
It’s rated PG-13 and would be appropriate for older children, as well as make a great teaching tool for history teachers when covering WWI in the classroom. That being said, this movie is not for the faint of heart, its loud, packed with action and heartbreaking throughout.
War Horse is a must-see film of epic proportions, one that is sure to be talked about during the upcoming awards season and a movie that makes a great conversation piece for generations of movie-goers.
DreamWorks Pictures’ “War Horse,” director Steven Spielberg’s epic adventure, is a tale of loyalty, hope and tenacity set in the beautiful countryside of rural England and Europe during the First World War. “War Horse” begins with bond between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets—British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter—before the story reaches its emotional climax in the heart of No Man’s Land. “War Horse” will be released in theaters on December 25, 2011. “Like” WAR HORSE on Facebook.