104 of 114 people found the following review helpful
The Nobility of WAR HORSE,
This review is from: War Horse (DVD)The courage of a horse and its bond with a young man amid the horrors of war serves as the backdrop to a saga of loyalty and survival in Warhorse, Steven Spielberg's take on World War I and its effect on a British family. Adapted from a novel and inspired by the stage play of the same name, this is old fashioned filmmaking that could have easily been made 50 years ago back when epic war dramas like Lawrence of Arabia and Dr. Zhivago ruled the screens.
A teenage boy, Albert (Jeremy Irvine), and a colt, Joey, form a bond amid the English countryside. Albert's mother (Emily Watson) worries over the house being repossessed as his father (Peter Mullan), an alcoholic and war veteran, struggles to harvest crops from the harsh land. Threatened with eviction, Joey is sold to the army to assist in the fighting in Europe during World War I. Heartbroken, Albert vows to find Joey and be reunited. We can see early on that Joey is a special horse who is smart and brave whether he submits to being a plow horse, outracing a motor car, or lugging German war machines up a mountain. As the years pass from 1914-1918 and the war amasses its destructive toll on men and animals on both sides, Joey's ownership changes hands, but through it all, he finds a succession of kind souls to watch over him. When Albert joins the battle, an unlikely series of events will bring him closer to Joey.
Joey is an allegory to slavery as he is being sold as a commodity to hard labor and taken as property by either side in the war. The story is primarily told through his eyes, and each set of people Joey encounters has a personal story: the British officer who makes a promise to bring Joey back to his rightful owner, a young German soldier who dotes protectively over his brother, or a German farm girl who is cared for by her grandfather. In wartime, making friends and losing them is a way of life, and Joey is no different whether it is a human or fellow mare. Some common themes emerge from all these people, namely their affection for Joey and the toll that war exacts on loved ones.
Production values are superior especially the vivid cinematography by Janusz Kaminski who employs color schemes especially at the end that emulate the palettes of Gone with the Wind. Irvine is ideally cast as the son who refuses to give up on his horse and friend.
There are not a lot of the trademark Spielberg moments that you expect; Clint Eastwood could have been the director without much difference. There are memorable scenes that resonate including a tragic charge by British cavalry on a German position and an auction with an army `band of brothers' pitching in for a worthy cause. Then there is the harrowing, desperate escape by Joey that culminates in him getting tangled in barbed wire in No Man's Land and help coming from an unlikely source which results in a most unusual standoff. Such scenes may seem clichéd but register nonetheless.
The ending does have an emotional payoff, but there are some missed opportunities along the way. There are relationships that could have been developed more like Albert's father who is a one dimensional character but has suffered trauma from a previous war. The possibility of romance for Albert during a race between Joey and a car carrying a pretty girl never develops. Spielberg also meant this as an antiwar film as in the scenes of brutal trench warfare where Albert witnesses his own comrades die, but such scenes are relatively brief and do not linger like his World War II saga, Saving Private Ryan.
Warhorse is about the bringing together of a family torn apart by war. It's about the common humanity that unites strangers. It's also about a boy turned man and his love for his horse.
Sort: Oldest first | Newest first
Showing 1-6 of 6 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Mar 2, 2012 5:26:52 AM PST
Excellent review. Thank you.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 2, 2012 10:50:05 AM PST
I appreciate your thoughts. thanks.
Posted on Mar 18, 2012 5:33:02 AM PDT
Summer Paulus says:
Not to be rude or anything, but the little girl and her grandfather are French, not German. :)
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 18, 2012 2:31:19 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Mar 18, 2012 2:31:36 PM PDT
you are correct and I knew that. That's what I get for writing nine reviews in nine days. thanks
Posted on Mar 29, 2012 8:12:40 AM PDT
J. Walters says:
A well written review and I'm glad you liked the movie as I did. I do however disagree with your point that someone like Eastwood could've stepped in to direct this movie without much difference. An Eastwood War Horse would've been much slower paced with his own composed music that would've made me wanna wear ear plugs and I'm a fan of Clint. The movie was definitely different from what we've come to expect of Spielberg but for me this felt like a Spielberg move from beginning to end.
In reply to an earlier post on Mar 29, 2012 10:07:31 AM PDT
Your point is well made. Just an opinion and I love Clint too. Thanks for your feedback!
‹ Previous 1 Next ›