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A movie directed by Steven Spielberg

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A long faced look at war

  • Sep 28, 2012
Rating:
+4
More recently as Steven Spielberg has become a more active producer, his directing credits are becoming less common.

In 2011 he produced the brillant Super 8, one of my favorites, directed by JJ Abrams, the creator, writer and occasional director of Lost, and the recent Star trek. Super 8 is a great nostalgia piece evoking the early eighties, a movie within a movie, and an homage to Spielberg's earliest movies. Spielberg also produced Cowboys and Aliens, a somewhat weird meshing of two genres.

Now with Warhorse Spielberg directs, and shows his masterful touches throughout. In fact, if you are like me you can see traces of many great movies of the past. The early portions of the movies showing English countryside scenes, and the musical soundtrack of John Williams are reminiscent of John Ford's The Quiet Man. Trench warfare scenes are reminiscent of that all time classic All Quiet on the Western Front. Incidents relating to deserting soldiers are thematically reminiscent of Kubrick's Paths of Glory.

War, as bad as it is, somehow seems worse when an innocent animal is involved, which ultimately makes Warhorse the ultimate anti war polemic. And we have a love story between a young boy Albert, and a horse named Joey. As the movie begins we see the horse being born.

Later Albert's alcoholic father instead of buying a proper plough horse, foolishly pits himself agaainst his own landlord in bidding for the flash horse Joey, instead of a huge Clydesdale, making his tenancy precarious, and imperiling his families limited fortunes. Joey faces many trials and tribulations adjusting to the plough. Here we have a wonderful perforamnce from Emily Watson as the mother, cruelly snubbed during awards season.

When the war happens the father impulsively sells the horse to the military, despite Albert's protests. Albert, understandably distressed, too young to join the military, vows to be reunited with Joey. Meanwhile Joey goes to the front, and we have a poignant scene with his new owner. He and another horse escape the war briefly, and are adopted by a teenage girl. It's not long before the war interferes again, and Joey has a series of adventures.

My favorite scene is when he gets trapped in No Mans land, and both sides have to cooperate to free him. I loved the wire clippers flying scene. I also loved the sub story about the two young German brothers, and the parallel structure about how the British deal with a similar situation.

Ultimately the horse is a silent witness to the horror of war, becoming an effective storytelling metaphor.

Later in the movie one scene I thought was a little overdone, the moment of blindfold recognition. I like to feel emotions in a movie, but not to have them evoked in a contrived way.

Warhorse certainly deserves to be nominated for Best Picture and Best Cinematography, yet I cannot help thinking that actors who vote for awards would prefer as I do to have the story centered around a human character. Nevetheless, when I was a child or young teen I loved watching movies like this, particularly Lassie Goes to war.

Another movie I recommend if you don't mind subtitles is the French movie A Very Long Engagement (English Subtitled), starring Audrey Tautou, and Academy Award winner Marion Cotillard. A girl seeks her boyfriend believed killed by being sent over the trench deliberately into no mans land for breaking military regulations. It has huge parallels with Warhorse except the protagonists are human, and also operates as a polemic. A beautifully filmed touching love story set against the war.

I think you will love it, and I hope this was helpful.
A long faced look at war A long faced look at war A long faced look at war

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More War Horse (2011 film) reviews
review by . June 24, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
** out of ****    Allow me, for a moment, to establish a few of my reviewer biases that I might not have already established in the past. What I like in a movie is entertainment, however it may be delivered; be it through a thought-provoking story, strong central characters, or a satisfying visual style. What I dislike is familiarity, simplicity (although sometimes I can let it slide), and ignorance. And now it all boils down to what a truly hate: forced sentimentality, the manipulation …
review by . July 18, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Were it not for war, many a man's needs would be unfulfilled.
War Horse - directed by Steven Spielberg   Starring - Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson and Tom Eddleson   Based on the 1982 novel by Michael Morpurgo      This WWI drama tells the story of a young man in the English countryside - Albert and a remarkable horse.      Albert was a boy when he witnessed the horse's birth and its early years of growth. Then the horse went on the market and, to Albert's amazement, his father-a farmer barely …
review by . December 29, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Three hours about a horse
WAR HORSE Written by Lee Hall and Richard Curtis Directed by Steven Spielberg Starring Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, Tom Hiddleston and fourteen different horses as “Joey”   The other day, I told a friend of mine that I had never in my life ever ridden a horse. She gasped in horror as if I had missed out on one of life’s most rewarding experiences. I’m not against the idea of it, although I can’t imagine horses enjoy that kind of weight on them for hours at …
review by . December 27, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         War Horse must have been a tremendous challenge for director Steven Spielberg, as the film is a balancing act between two of his well-established styles, namely overt sentimentalism and horrific depictions of war. On paper, this sounds like a recipe for disaster. On screen, it comes across beautifully. Don’t ask me how he made it work, because I have absolutely no idea. All I know is, like Spielberg’s own E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, …
review by . December 22, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
While talking to my friend about War Horse, he told me that he initially thought there was some deeper meaning to the title; it wasn’t until later that he found out that the movie is literally about a horse in a war. Any kind of serious discussion about the movie from that point on was impossible. This makes the review all that more difficult to write because Steven Spielberg takes his story very seriously. You know the one about a horse, in a war.      Steven Spielberg …
review by . January 19, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
In Dartmoor, England a teenage boy named Albert Narracott (Jeremy Irvine), watches in fascination as a thoroughbred colt is born. The baby horse is a beautiful animal and watching the equine run through the fields soon becomes Albert's new hobby. The day comes when the horse is taken to auction. Albert's father, Ted (Peter Mullan) comes to market to buy a plow horse, but when he sees the magnificent beast and spots his landlord smirking on the other side of the fence he ends up paying a …
review by . December 18, 2011
posted in Movie Hype
'War Horse' 'Two Jews On Film' Have Dry Eyes Watching Spielberg's Latest Epic (Video)
         By Joan Alperin Schwartz      Albert (Jeremy Irvine) a young boy, who lives on a rented farm in Devon with his mom (Emily Watson) and his dad (Peter Mullen).  Albert has a horse named Joey and Joey...is one awesome horse and the family couldn't be happier.  Until...          WW! breaks out, and poor Joey is sold to the British cavalry and shipped off to France.  Luckily this reallynice Britis …
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Larry Power ()
Member Since: May 29, 2010
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A WW1 Action Film Based On The Award Winning Play
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