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A movie directed by Steven Spielberg

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War Horse

  • Dec 22, 2011
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 takes us back to just before the start to The Great War. It opens on a young Albert Narracott, played by newcomer Jeremy Irvine, who takes his first look at the pony which he will one day own named Joey. The beginning 45-minutes of the movie not only set up the bond between the horse and his owner but set the tone of being over romanticized and overly-dramatic. With sweeping landscapes and a beautiful setting it is tough not to be taken in by the beauty of the movie. The music though is too on the nose to be taken completely seriously. John Williams, who composes the score, goes full throttle trying to bring the weepies out of the viewing audience. The sentiment these two frequent partners in crime are trying to get off is clear, it is never more noticeable than this segment of the film but the tone carries on the rest of the way.

The story has now been told through the written word, on stage, and now takes to the screen. This may be hard to understand but of the three versions, the one with a real horse may be the least believable. The story comes from the 1982 novel where the horse is the narrator of the story. It then took to the stage where it won a TONY for best play by using wonderfully crafted puppetry reminiscent of what “The Lion King” has been doing in front of packed houses for over a decade now. Spielberg decided to use a real animal and let the people around him do the narration and allow the horse to be perceived as it normally would be. The animal truly is beautiful and after viewing the movie, it is impressive just what they were able to train this animal to do. But one thing it can’t give you is a reaction shot as the horse is just going to look at the camera no matter how many close-ups of its face you give it, and there were a lot. In the other two mediums there was a level of mysticism behind the story telling because the animal wasn’t real so you allowed yourself to be taken away by the emotional plight of the character. Here it looks almost like they are trying to make up for what they lost by being over-romanticized and the outcome just makes it look cheesy.

Once the actual war begins the director creates more genuine moment. One of the most memorable come from the horse’s war time owner Captain Nicholls played by Tom Hiddleston as we witness first hand one of the most notable moments in wartime history in the transition of fighting styles to automatic weapons. One other moment comes towards the end of the movie; feel free to jump to the next paragraph as there are SPOILERS AHEAD. But not really as this is the moment before the climax of the film, I’ll do my best to be vague. It features two soldiers coming out of their respective trenches to aid the horse which was stuck in barbed wire in no man’s land. While coming off initially corny I appreciate the filmmaker referencing a little known moment in history called the Christmas Truce that took place across the Western Front between the warring sides. It is no surprise that Spielberg is able to properly capture these moments of war as he has had so much experience in the past creating them.

One of the most talented filmmakers of our time, Speirberg takes his expertise in both action packed war movies and childhood films and is able to create quite the hybrid that is getting a lot of award talk. The accolades the movie has received may be more attributed to the source material, the timing, and the man behind the project than the film itself. He does create a movie that can be viewed by audiences of all ages and that is something rarely seen in movie making anymore. B-

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December 23, 2011
I was on the fence with this one. I was told that this was based on a play, and its beauty was the fact that the horse could speak. I just saw another film by Spielberg recently too, seems like I may need to make time to see this. Thanks!
More War Horse (2011 film) reviews
review by . September 28, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
A long faced look at war
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 …
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 . 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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A WW1 Action Film Based On The Award Winning Play
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