War Horse (2011)

War Horse (2011)
  • Time: 146 min
  • Genre: Drama | War
  • Director: Steven Spielberg
  • Cast: Jeremy Irvine, Emily Watson, David Thewlis


Dartmoor,1914: To his wife’s dismay farmer Narracott buys a thoroughbred horse rather than a plough animal, but when his teenaged son Albert trains the horse and calls him Joey, the two becoming inseparable. When his harvest fails, the farmer has to sell Joey to the British cavalry and he is shipped to France where, after a disastrous offensive he is captured by the Germans and changes hands twice more before he is found, caught in the barbed wire in No Man’s Land four years later and freed. He is returned behind British lines where Albert, now a private, has been temporarily blinded by gas, but still recognizes his beloved Joey. However, as the Armistice is declared Joey is set to be auctioned off. After all they have been through will Albert and Joey return home together?


  • “We’ll be alright Joey. We’re the lucky ones, you and me. Lucky since the day I met you.”

    This is a pleasant family film in which every member of the family will find a piece they’ll love most. The kids can dream about the adventurous part and the bond of friendship between a person and an animal. The women will be sobbing with all the sentimental and gooey stuff in this film while their handkerchief will get moister as the end nears. The tougher men of the family can set up for some authentic WWI footage.

    The look and feel of this movie took me back to movies like “Old Yeller”. It looks sometimes like a painting. I had the feeling that it wasn’t always filmed outside. The storyline is much like “Forrest Gump”, only that this time a horse is the subject that runs through history and all sorts of situations. A comparison with Lassie is obvious cause Joey behaves like a trained collie. At one moment i expected him to go sit on his butt like a real dog.

    The characters have a wide spectrum of feelings and personality. Joey is obviously highly intelligent an extremely loyal. Everyone would love to have such a horse hopping around in the garden. Not only does he express infinite love for Albert, but he’s also that strong to plow an entire field full of stumps and boulders in one night. Albert is the lucky boy to have this wonder horse as a friend. It is a simple, extremely boring and never aging man. For his age, I think he has an unhealthy interest in horses. Instead of chasing girls and hang out with friends, he only talks and thinks about his horse. Like someone noticed on IMDb : “I guess one day he would like to settle down with Joey the Horse, get married with Joey the Horse and have kids with Joey the Horse. His character is so utterly one dimensional and bland.”. Peter Mullan I thought was brilliant again in his role as the hardworking farmer who bought Joey on an auction right under the nose of his landowner. I think Mullan is one hell of an actor since I’ve seen him in “Tyrannosaur”. Emily Watson played convincingly the bossy wife and David Thewlis played an unkind version of a harsh landowner and I often hoped that he would be trampled under the feet of Joey .

    As mentioned earlier, the film shows the adventurous life of Joey. From the pasture where he was born, to the farm where he needs to work hard, into the British army who loses Joey in a failed attack and he falls in the hands of the Germans. Then he ends up with a French girl and her grandfather (peak of dullness in the whole movie). Then again back in the hands of the Germans and eventually he gets tangled in barbed wire right in the middle of the battlefield. The end is so incredibly predictable with the obligatory moment when Albert and Joey meet again and return home to embrace his mother and eventually the father.

    Terribly corny and sentimental film material in a heap, but filmed in a masterful way. The symbolic nature of the film is not hard to guess. The beauty of a deep-rooted friendship in contrast with the horrible hateful war in the background. This WWI was realistically portrayed on screen even though it seemed like a fairly clean war here. No blood spattered around, not even a drop. No ripped bodies. No hideous looking casualties caused by the gas attacks. In reality it was not a pretty picture. But all in all I thought it was pretty entertaining to watch and not boring at all. Although the moment when Joey got entangled in barbed wire was too ridiculous for words. I rather think that they would have used him as a practice target. For me, the moment when five cutters flew through the air to make him loose was a humorous slapstick moment .

    Conclusion :
    A Walt Disney fairy tale with many war sentiment and heartbreaking melodramatic, but picturesquely portrayed. Not the best of Spielberg, but it certainly was not that bad and awful.

  • I say with some sadness in my eyes that Steven Spielberg and John Williams are old men now. Time is not on their side, but their ingenious talents remain, and their fruitful collaboration on film over nearly four decades remains unsurpassed.

    War Horse, one of the best films of 2011, is a testament to that collaboration. Both are back in fine form with a film and score reminiscent of their earlier works. Drawing heavy influences from E.T. The Extra Terrestrial (1982), War Horse is a film as musically rich and beautifully shot as any in the Spielberg canon of great films.

    The film begins in 1912 in Dartmoor, England, with Albert (Jeremy Irvine), whose drunkard of a father foolishly bids for an inexperienced and seemingly weak horse at the local auction. Albert trains the horse that he calls Joey to plow the fields.

    But a chronic lack of money to pay for their rent leads Albert’s father to sell Joey to the cavalry, who are preparing for war with the Germans in what is now known as World War I. Albert and Joey are separated. Years later, Albert enlists to fight in the war in the hope that he will see Joey again.

    Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo, War Horse is a story tailor-made for Spielberg, who with Williams, work our tear ducts with aplomb in this highly sentimental tale of loss and reunion, and the suffering and hardship in between as the result of the great war.

    Spielberg is the undisputed master of emotional manipulation, and I say that as a compliment because he manipulates us with a childlike innocence rarely seen in Hollywood cinema. He knows why we go to the movies, and why we continue to watch his films. He occasionally disappoints with the odd dud, but War Horse is no doubt excellent.

    This simple yet touching tale of a boy and his horse features more than decent performances from the supporting cast and Irvine, who makes his screen debut. Much is said about Irvine’s flat acting, but I beg to differ. His chemistry with Joey, while not entirely outstanding, is enough to be convincing, and more importantly, naturalistic.

    The film’s episodic nature, as Joey falls under the hands of British and German soldiers, and in a quiet, lovely sequence, finding itself with a little French girl and her protective grandfather, prolongs the film’s runtime. But while the film feels lengthy, it never feels too long because, like E.T., we want to be with Joey as long as we can.

    Amid the misty eyes and soulful glances, War Horse is also a staggering technical feat as Spielberg recreates trench warfare of WWI, with homage to classics such as All Quiet on the Western Front (1930) and Kubrick’s Paths of Glory (1957), while drawing some of his experiences from shooting Saving Private Ryan (1998).

    Eschewing the documentary, hand-held camera look of the latter, the battles in War Horse are largely visualized with wide, panning and tracking shots from a stable camera, yet remain ultra-realistic because of its sound mixing and editing. However, rest assured this is not a violent film, and is perfectly comfortable for family viewing.

    Speaking of homages, the master director fittingly concludes his film with a heartfelt tribute to the classic American Western, a cinematic love letter to John Ford. In the entirely silent epilogue, accompanied by Williams’ heart-tugging score, we struggle to hold back our tears as we believe, not for the first time, in the magic of Steven Spielberg.

    GRADE: A

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