The War Horse Is An Epic Steven Spielberg Film
Based on the book War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, first published in 1982...
This is such a beautiful and moving story of love that transcends the horrors inherent in war. Set during the days of World War I, the movie starts when a young boy, Albert (played by a fairly new actor, Jeremy Irvine), is watching a beautiful young colt being born. He watches from a distance and is enchanted by how close this little colt is to his Mother. They are inseparable, until the day that this colt is old enough and he is sold at auction.
The boy's father, a man who was injured in the war and still walks with a limp, named Ted Narracott, (played brilliantly by Peter Mullan), has memories of war that cause him to drink in an attempt to forget past war horrors. He decides that he wants to purchase this horse and he knows instinctively that there is something very special about this horse. He ends up spending more than he intended to spend to get the horse, but is happy that he won the auction.
The horse is brought to the farm where he, his wife, (played beautifully by Emily Watson), and their son, Albert, are tenant farmers. The man who owns the farm, (played by David Thewlis) demands that they pay what they owe, but they're unable to do that. The boy's father tells the owner of the farm that the horse will plow a field that looks impossible to plow and that they will plant crops on it. By the fall, they will have enough money to pay what they owe.
There is just one problem with this plan, the horse is wild and seems as if he will be difficult to tame. The boy, Albert, takes it upon himself to help the family by training the horse not only to have a harness put on him, but to pull a plow. This is such a touching and moving story of a very close friendship that happens between this young boy and his horse. The horse comes to trust him implicitly, and eventually learns to listen to him and follow his commands. The boy has a special way to command the horse to come to him, and it's important to remember that for later in the film. Towards the end of the film, if you're anything like me, you'll get goosebumps when he uses this to call the horse to him.
The young boy, Albert, has named his horse "Joey" and they become fast, close friends. He trains him to the point where he will wear a harness, and he does begin to plow the "un-plowable" field. Once the field is plowed, vegetables are planted there for a harvest that is meant to get the family out of debt once it is harvested.
Due to terrible luck unfortunately experienced by farmers, they are unable to harvest the crop. Then the father, Ted, is forced to take the horse to auction to get enough money to pay the debt they owe. The horse, Joey, is brought to an auction where horses are being bought to be used in the upcoming war. A young man buys him, and promises Albert that he will care for the horse the best that he can.
There begins the adventure Joey embarks on as a War Horse. He is taken across the English Channel to the battlefields. Throughout the movie, he befriends not only people, but a pretty black horse as well. After the death of the young man who bought him at auction, he comes to be owned by two young German soldiers. After yet another tragic battle, he later finds some refuge temporarily with an old but friendly farmer, (played by Niels Arestrup) and his young grand-daughter, (played by Celine Buckens) in France.
The young girl had lost her parents, and was staying with her Grandfather. She was the light in her grandfather's world and she meant everything to him. She falls in love with the horse, Joey, and takes excellent care of him, until their home is attacked and everything is taken from them, including Joey. Showing very stunningly how brutal war truly is, this film is very moving. Steven Spielberg is a brilliant storyteller, and this movie highlights how effectively he can tell a story.
It is an incredibly moving account of Joey's journey through the terrors of war and back, and eventually he is found again by Albert, the young boy who raised and trained him. Albert has grown old enough to join the army, and he is determined to find his horse. The road he takes to find him is amazing. Both of them, Albert and the War Horse Joey are survivors. I have to say that the young actor who played Albert, Jeremy Irvine, did an outstanding job in his role, and I would even venture to say that he should have a very bright future ahead of him as an actor. Wonderful job on his part, in a very difficult role!
There is such a beautiful and touching ending to the movie, I don't want to spoil it for anyone who wants to see the movie. It is a triumphant tale of the resiliency of the human spirit, and the spirit of an amazing and beautiful animal. A story for most ages, although young children would find the scenes of war to be too intense and scary for them, which is the reason for the PG-13 rating.
A truly great family movie to see over any season. It is especially a great movie to see at family gatherings and is perfect for nearly all ages. This movie has also been chosen as the critic's pick by the NY Times film reviewers. I highly recommend it, it's a story you won't soon forget.