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War Horse
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on May 3, 2017
Originally saw this movie on the Christmas Day it was released (2011) and there was not a dry eye in the theater. Bought it this past Christmas to watch with my now teenage daughter and she loved it as well. The second time through still brought an occasional tear! The story line is exceptional, the acting is fabulous and Spielberg once again raises the bar for cinematic genius. I am not sure how many horses were used to play "Joey", but as horse people, it was fun for us to spot the "actor" changes. The story chronicles the life of Joey, not first person as Black Beauty did, but chapter by chapter throughout the course of World War I in England and Europe. Throughout the script, we see how many lives Joey touches, and the film also very thoughtfully, poignantly, and victoriously reveals the culture and mindset of the time. Well worth two hours on the sofa with a bowl of popcorn and a box of tissues!
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on October 23, 2016
Excellent book. I use it to teach kids how to read properly, and it works like a charm. The kids are into it big-time. I show them the movie at the same time, and that just enhances the learning process. I wouldn't recommend it for kids younger than 7, but all ages after that..definitely.

The story is about a young man who ends up with a colt he has to teach, so he can maintain his farm. Unfortunately, the horse is eventually thrust into a war and separated from the boy.

It's a very interestinh, yet heart-wrenching story that makes you realize what many had to go through during various wars, and it doesn't just grip you in the beginning. It holds your attention all the way to the the final pages, with a magnificent end. Truly, a tear-jerker, without being mushy. I highly recommend it for all ages.
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on February 8, 2015
Steven Spielberg has a certain type of film he makes really well, a sentimental one, and WAR HORSE is a perfect example of that for better or worse. The story follows a horse from birth, auction, and through WWI as he goes through a succession of owners. He might be the luckiest horse I've ever seen (or the unluckiest, depending on how you look at it). Through it all, he shows determination and manages to get through everything that life throws at him. Of course, this film suffers from what a lot of animal-centric films suffer from: the main character has a lack of agency in their own story. There is little reason to care about what happens to this horse beyond human compassion for animals. And since this film aims to be somewhat realistic, meaning no voices or internal monologue (like BLACK BEAUTY), you don't get a sense of what is going through its head outside of the physical performance. That leaves the character development to the human cast and, due to the nature of the story, we don't really get to spend that much time with any of them before they are jettisoned so that we can move on to the next chapter in the horse's life. There were several recognizable character actors (some distractingly so), but none of them are really given much to do. They take a backseat to the horse at the center of the story who, as I've previously mentioned, isn't too much of a character. Stuff happens to him, but that's it. The only two moments that brought genuine emotion out in me were a scene in which a horse is put down, and the scene in which Joey (the main horse) is reunited with his first owner. Everything else beyond that felt overly staged, contrived or there because of necessity to the plot. Outside of the story, though, everything else was spectacular. Reuniting with his cinematographer from SAVING PRIVATE RYAN, Steven Spielberg crafted some beautiful images staged some excellent battle sequences. Given the PG-13 rating, it's a bit toned down from what he did previously but nonetheless just as effective. And of course the acting was all very good, even if most of the cast were just playing filler characters. I even liked John Williams' score which complemented the film very nicely. Overall, I could take or leave the sappy nature of the story, but Steven Spielberg has made such a beautiful film that it is possible to overlook some of the other faults. It's not his greatest work, but it makes for a decent, non-challenging watch.
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on January 8, 2018
Jeremy Irvine, an actor from the UK. He starred in this "War Horse" movie. HE HAD NEVER RIDDEN a horse before. I bought "Beyond The Reach," that he also stars in. I want to see more and more and more of Jeremy. His body is also tops, Better than Tom Cruise or many other Hollywood actors. I am anxious to see him in other features. All the 50's stars are now dying off. Hollywood needs replacements. Yes, there are more coming up each year to try to replace our 50's heroes. Lucky for DVDs that we can still watch our favorite actors forever and ever. Wide flat screens now up to 82". Like a mini-theater watching our DVDs.I gave my DVD of "War Horse" to a friend. So, now I bought another copy for my collection.
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on August 31, 2015
I really love this film. Not only the part how this movie describes human condition but also the historical part of the movie. I highly recommend this stylistically well made movie because it is just so amazing when I see the horse jumping around the field and bring hopes to the people in the Great War.
The background of the movie happened during the World War I. The horse, named Joey, did not give up on his life during the Great War. Joey brought hopes to the devastated soldiers on both Allies and Germans. During World War I, millions of people died because the war was fought in a different way, as known as trench war. Generals make soldiers dig trenches to make defiance and it makes the offence become very hard, and even more, the troops are already using machine guns from the beginning of the war and millions of people will die under the machine guns. When Joey ran in to the field, there are wires and bodies everywhere. Suddenly, Joey was trapped in the wires and both Germans and British soldiers can’t believe what they are seeing – a living animal at the middle of the war zone. The appeared of Joey makes both German and British send a soldiers to help rescue him and that makes troops on both sides disengage for a while. After Joey was rescued, he was send back to the doctor for surgery and at the same place is where he met his original owner, Albert. After the war, Joey and Albert went back to home together and the movie end with a happy ending.
After watching the whole movie, I can feel the powerful vitality spreading from Joey, miracles happened on this creature. He makes me believe that I shouldn’t give up on anything. Really, everyone should go watch this movie. It definitely worth it.
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on February 19, 2012
I thoroughly enjoyed this film. After seeing it at the theater I came onto Amazon, as I often do, to add it to my wishlist. I then read the unexcited reviews that were found on the product page and thought I should write a review to posit a counter opinion. The other reviews posted didn't seem to have enjoyed the film, two major criticisms being that they found it melodramatic and heavy handed, comments like these make me wonder if audiences have become so cynical that they view any attempt at displaying open/honest emotion to be an attempt at manipulation. Everyone has differing opinions but I feel this film will appeal to anyone who enjoys stylistically well made films and/or anyone who enjoys stories about bonds/will being tested. In a general sense Spielberg uses the story of this horse to explore the human condition and explore some very well done set pieces/environments.

As I saw it, the horse is a metaphor for hope and how it can be shared and spread, how it can inspire and endure. I don't mean this in an over sentimental way but just in a very real way. We are all hopeful for different things, big and small, and this film is about how under the right conditions and with the right persistence that hope can avoid being snuffed out or lost.

The film, based on a play I have not seen and cannot compare it to, is episodic as the horse goes from owner to owner during the years of World War 1. The fact that the film was episodic didn't make it feel chopped up or give it the feel of a broken narrative. I felt the through line of the film was the human condition and the traveling horse facilitated the telling of several viewpoints while exploring the excellent recreation of a time period. The acting was top notch by everyone seen on screen. To counter another criticism, the main human character, a boy named Albert, does show strong affection for the horse, a character in the film quips "come on now boy, it's not as if he were a dog". I didn't find this relationship to be strange, the horse simply becomes very important to Albert because as we see he doesn't have much to his life and the horse is something he gets that then works to make his life better. Perhaps I also never found it strange as I always found the horse to be representative of hope rather than as just some random animal.

The writing in terms of dialogue flowed and felt incredibly natural, as it does in most Spielberg films. John Williams score, while clearly a John Williams score, is the perfect mix of innocence, action/adventure and drama as the story calls for it. I would strongly compare the pacing and acting to Catch Me if You Can, as that film also had several major settings that shifted as the film progressed. I found War Horse to actually be better paced as it has a few more settings (about 5, possibly 6 in total?) and each one is shorter than the ones in the aforementioned film. Best of all the film actually ends when it ends, the story concludes and there are no tacked on or forced endings for the sake of pandering or over explaining as many recent films have had.

As far as the directing, I don't know if one can compare anything to the seeming effortless magic he created in his early films or certain efforts from the 90's but this would be Spielberg above his recent best and closer to those older films in quality. Everything unfolds visually in such an easy to follow an familiar way while still being unique and involving. There are some masterful shots that recall the opening of Saving Private Ryan but in an artistically different way. This is unquestionably due in part to the fact that this film has been made family friendly, while that could serve as a criticism I didn't find the film to be aimed specifically at families, though it has been made to facilitate viewing by younger children. Rather than illustrating the pure violence of battle as he did in SPR, Spielberg spends his time in this film showing the brutality of war in a creative fashion that suggests the horror more than displaying it. There is one such scene in particular where mounted soldiers ride into battle and on the other end of the shot their empty horses emerge without many of the riders they once carried.

In a sea of films about special effects, high concept stories or big names here is a film that is a complete film on its own without any gimmicks, as fun as gimmicks can be (Mi4 for example). This film is an actual experience for those who are open to it. Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was an excellently crafted film that pushed the dark and grittiness, War Horse is a excellently crafted film that pushes the lighter elements but both are equally enjoyable and excellently made. Watching a good Spielberg film is like watching the epitome of what film is. It's like more recently watching Christopher Nolan's films, there are always flaws in any film but films such as theirs are so carefully and purposefully made as films that they are engaging and fully engrossing.

One potential weakness I will admit, though I feel a reviewing of the film would diminish it, is that the film doesn't have as strong an arc as most films. The characters change but so much of it is internal here. The horse's first owner does change but he is absent through the middle of the film, the various other owners also change in varying ways but all during their own vignettes. The horse itself has changed in much the same way as his owner as suggested by the final shot of the film, but perhaps critical audience members won't pick up on this. That said, one could (and I would say should) view this subtlety as purposeful. The film isn't as much about how the boy or the horse has changed but how despite all they've been through they managed to stay so much the same, they maintain what could easily have been lost.

I dunno, I personally love it (5 Stars) but for objectivity I'll give it 4/5 for general audiences, I think most everyone I described at the beginning of this review will like this film if they view it. For those who feel it is heavy handed and melodramatic go and watch Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, its also an excellent film but there is no overt display of emotion to be found there. Thanks for your time
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on January 21, 2012
Steven Spielberg is a grade above most contemporary directors because he keeps his priorities right, on the story and relationships. I hardly ever see movies in theaters today because most of them are crass and confusingly edited. This movie's cinematography (by Janusz Kaminski) is rich and creative, and close-ups are used effectively to help you bond with the characters. John Williams' music is once again enriching. It is a movie about the adventures of a horse in World War I, but it's even more about the struggle to adapt and maintain stable relationships in war. The horse is, for some of the characters, their closest companion. Kind of like "Sarah, Plain and Tall: Winter's End", War Horse's theme is about the need to build relationships as the fragility of life is impressed upon us. In fact, at one point, the horse brings together the opposing sides in friendship in the "no man's land" between the trenches, reminiscent of the widespread real-life Christmas Truce which occurred in 1914. Another thing that impresses me is the way it shows violence. There's no blood on the whole movie that I saw, and powerful emotions of fear and relief are created through making you feel attached to the characters, not through graphic violence. As a John Ford aficionado, I could see Ford's influence in Spielberg's storytelling, with the camera angle and position sometimes depicting an emotional closeness with the land and an ending told without words, like the end of Ford's movie The Searchers. It left me with a wonderful feeling at the end of satisfaction and peace. Way to go, Steven Spielberg!
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on June 27, 2014
Growing up in the 90s, maybe it was just for me, but being a history buff, I've lately felt like I needed to do my own research to learn more about WW1. All I had growing up from history books, to movies, to even video games, are just images of Europe burning, tanks on the autobahn, WW2 air planes, bombs, visions of Normandy, and Nazi parades, a mustached tyrant that when it comes to WW1 I only know that some Franz Ferdinand got shot so the world goes to war in trenches?

As I've done my own research I've been somewhat cued in and introduced into the intricacies and the world of WW1, yet we all seem to be ushered in to the world WW2 more-so.

I enjoyed War Horse because it gave a look at some other aspects of WW1 that we all don't know about... it showed us the world of that time, and one horse and kid's journey through the war. With Spielberg directing, you know it can't go wrong. It's been a few years since its release, but I was hoping hollywood would carry the mantle of re-introducing us to WW1 through film a hundred years after its occurence..
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on May 25, 2013
I can't believe I waited almost a year to see this. I was unexpectedly surprised and very satisfied with Spielberg's latest film (his best since Catch Me If You Can a decade ago), based on the critically-acclaimed play of the same name.

It has a charming enough beginning and premise: a young man takes in an injured horse and trains him to plow, hoping to raise enough money to save his family's farm. As World War I breaks out, however, the family is forced to sell the horse and the movie truly begins.

While I expected a standard narrative, the film functioned in a much more interesting way: the horse passed between different parties, British and German soldiers, a young French girl, and others throughout the course of the war. I won't give any spoilers but the ending is incredibly moving and satisfying.

The movie seems to drag on during the second hour (clocks in at almost 150 minutes), but the payoff is well worth it. The wide variety of characters are able to come together in a believable scenario, illustrating how much the horse and the war has changed all of them.

It is in this last ten minutes or so that the film truly blew me away; the characters gave incredibly stirring speeches, evoking themes of sacrifice, loss, and redemption.

In addition to the wonderful emotional power of this film, it is also very well shot and produced. The stunning imagery is often reminiscent of Gone With the Wind, of characters in desperate situations silhouetted against a fiery orange sky. Their identities aren't what matters; it is the extraordinary circumstances they face and how they meet those circumstances that make this a genuinely heartfelt and inspirational work.
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on January 3, 2014
I am from the ole school I guess...If I want a "message", I'll request one on e-mail, a letter, or read a book . My favorite movie entertainment is a film with wonderful scenes(camera work),action(not wild blasts and un-needed noises), acting that makes me forget they are acting, music of any kind that I may be humming days after, and a plot(story line ) that perhaps makes me wish I had been there at that time, but maybe not in all the scenes in this one. Now, anything Spielberg does is propbably pretty top stuff with all of these ingedients. That's WAR HORSE..!! I am not a horse lover. Although I love those western movies..especially those Republic and Columbia series cowboy westerns of 30's-40's. I like cats and dogs. Howeever, this movie may move me to visit my farmer friend who has riding horses that I have ignored. Surprise... WAR HORSE gives us many beliveable leading characters. Surprise ! WAR HORSE wss really 6 diffrent horses used. They were all GREAT! As was all of the other horses in the cast..!
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